Three ways to lead during a crisis
The daily life of a supervisor or manager can be tricky enough.
It’s like herding cats sometimes!
Leading the team to their position. Answering enquiries. Handling complaints. Managing tough situations.
Then along comes a crisis and that can throw people out of whack.
People look to their leaders for help and guidance.
What happens when you’re also affected by the same crisis?
How do you manage others when you have to cope yourself?
Be as upfront and honest as you can about the situation.
Acknowledge that it is ok to be scared and worried about the potential impacts.
Let employees know you are also affected. Not all the personal stuff, but, if it is impacting you then it is ok to say so.
The idea here is to dispel rumours and fearmongering. If the team don’t get official word, then they will often make up their own and often on ill-informed information.
Be honest about what you know and what you don’t. Clarity is important when communicating during a crisis. Try to keep it simple.
Try: Share information as it comes to light, being careful with any sensitive material. Not getting any? Ask!
2. Be present
Be open and available to your team during the tough time.
The team will appreciate having their welfare checked.
When you are present and available, it can give the team a sense of reassurance that you are there with them and there to help see it through, especially when going through the same thing.
It also allows them to address issues or concerns with you personally, and often you will be able to dispel some of the fear and rumours that start when information is lacking.
Try: Get around your team on the daily and say ‘hello’. This simple act can change their mindset.
3. Manage emotions
This is tricky because so many people, and maybe even you, may be impacted.
Keeping everyone’s emotions in check allows you to stay on task and purpose, both of which are important in a crisis, as a sense of normality will help people cope.
Take time out for yourself to make sure you are ok. Get a handle on your thoughts and feelings.
Check in on the team and offer support where you can.
It may be that your employee assistance program can be engaged, or, get people to talk to their doctor or a helpline if they need it.
In the workplace, work will still need to be done. We need to be sensitive to the emotions of our team, but they must be managed.
If someone is struggling, then reach out and check if they’re ok.
If the issues continue then they may start to become a performance management issue.
You want to have offered as much support as possible.
Try: Have some numbers of local helplines available or encourage the team to talk to each other for support. If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed, make sure to take some time for yourself, too.
Need to talk? Call Lifeline on 13 11 14, or see your GP.