Leading your team through a crisis
Since Covid-19 first arrived on our shores six months ago, we have seen he most extraordinary feats of performance under pressure.
We have seen nurses and doctors working around the clock under desperate conditions to keep their patients alive, risking themselves in the process. We have seen the Government introduce measures such as the Pandemic Unemployment Payment at a speed that was staggering. We have seen businesses adapt and survive by being more creative and innovative than they could have thought possible.
However, we can’t work under this kind of pressure forever, and we have to find a normality and balance in the crazy world we now live in.
We have to realise that the past six months have placed a huge amount of pressure on individuals, as well as organisations and businesses. While managers and senior executives have a role in ensuring the survival of their business, they also have to protect their employees and team members by leading them through.
Its important to remember that we are still in the middle of this crisis, and there is a long way to go. We have all been through a lot in the past six months, both personally and professionally. Many of us have been working longer and longer hours to save our jobs and businesses. Many of us have been afraid for their health, and the lives of their loved ones.
As managers and leaders, we must be ever mindful of the wellness of our team and remember that they too have been feeling the stresses and strains of the past few months and are worried about the months ahead.
An individual or team can function well under severe pressure and strain for a short period of time, but the finish line with the Covid Criss is nowhere in sight, and we must try to find new ways of working that adapt to the change in a way that works for the business, the employee and the team.
A happy team isn’t always a winning team, but an unhappy team is never a winning team. At this point in time, we have to ensure that the people in our team are happy and coping well with the stresses and strains for the pandemic.
As we reach the ‘mid-crisis’ and the start of a new phase in the battle against Covid-19, it’s a good time to pause, think clearly under pressure, and reset. Ignoring this vital checkpoint will have dire consequences. Employees will disengage, burn out, or worse, head elsewhere to avoid exactly that.
The first step is to recognise the problems. If we don’t look for the problems, we won’t find them. If we don’t find the problems, we can’t fix them.
An example of this is working from home, which many people still are. If you have employees working from home, do they have a proper desk? Do they have good enough upload speed for Zoom calls? There can be many small impediments to performance, and its important to ask the questions to ensure you can solve the problems.
Even small changes like getting them an extra screen or a proper desk can make a huge difference to an individual’s performance over time.
It’s a good time to check in with your team and talk with them to find out what’s working, what isn’t working and what could be changed to make things better. If your team is working from home, you don’t see them every day as usual and therefore you need to ensure that they still feel part of a working environment and a productive team.
We have to eliminate uncertainty where we can and describe the reality as you see it, in a way that each individual can process.
A crucial step in revitalising, replenishing and restoring the wellness of your team is ensuring the basics are covered. Are they getting enough sleep? Are they working too many hours? Are they in regular contact with other members of the team? Are they under too much pressure? When was the last time somebody took a few days off?
As WW International CEO Mindy Grossman said in a recent interview: “Being vulnerable and strong are not opposites, they are one and the same.’
There is no perfect way to handle the current situation, and six months ago there was no strategy or playbook that would have been able to tell you how to cope.
However, a good mantra that is heard often in our office is ‘’If there’s no playbook the current situation, write your own playbook,’’
It’s a good time to pause and reflect on where we are, how the strategy is going and how things can be improved. A mid-crisis reset will give a team the capability not only to endure or persevere, but even potentially to thrive in ongoing conditions of stress and uncertainty.