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Leading Through a Crisis

Brink's Money

02 Nov 2020

"In times of uncertainty, whether during the COVID-19 pandemic or not, we can’t be too sure about how events will unfold and this can be the source of great concern. Learning to lead through a crisis will not only require you to be more hands on but also serve as a guide during these unsettling times.

Putting aside those feelings of fear and being discouraged is more important than ever. It’s these situations that force you to evaluate current needs all while considering what actions you need to take. Try to keep the situation as far from noisy as possible and that means acknowledging the problems at hand and uniting your workforce in a common effort to get through these times together. This is not the time to retreat or hide but time to lead.

It’s important to make it a priority to showcase effective leadership and meet your company’s goals. There’s a few steps you can take to make sure you are supporting your employees and being proactive during these times.

Be Authentic When Connecting with Another Human Being


In a crisis it’s only natural to attend to your own concerns about the situation but there are other people that have concerns too and it’s vital to respect others’ feelings of fear. Any organization should encourage prioritizing mental health and checking in on employees’ well being.

Attending to others’ well being can also be seen through actively listening to understand what is important to them and how to cater to those certain issues. By acknowledging your personal story and feelings about current events and sharing that with your workforce can help establish a sense of trust. If employees feel heard and understood, it makes for a better work environment, relationships, and desire to support the organization.

Stay on Top of Information and Communicate Openly and with Honesty


Through every crisis, you have an overload of information coming your way. This can be overwhelming for anyone but just as you’re handling this wave of information, your employees need to be informed. Establishing communication guidelines is essential in this step.

We suggest:

  • Make sure any information that you do disclose with employees is credible
  • Set up the right channels to communicate information
  • Urge employees to abstain from sharing crisis news to avoid escalating panic
With communicating openly and truthfully it is important to keep in mind that as a leader you might not have all the answers to any questions or concerns employees may have. Nonetheless, if you do happen to acquire new information, do not sit on it. You should communicate openly and try to bridge the gap between what the current situation is and how it will impact your company and employees’ futures.

Emphasize Preparedness


Crises occur at the most unexpected times, but when that time does come leaders can properly prepare everyone on how to deal with it by not only acknowledging the situation but also by expressing the problems and sharing a plan on how to handle the situation. A big part of portraying preparedness is not avoiding the tough talk and second guessing what may happen or what actions you are planning to take.

Demonstrating your employees that you are prepared to take on the crisis at hand means that you know how to prioritize and allocate your time properly. Prioritizing is about thinking about long term outcomes but planning to address current issues. In tough times, business and work must continue so although there are a multitude of responsibilities that require your attention, remember to think about what’s more dire at the moment so you can plan accordingly. To lead efficiently through this situation, prioritize a few issues at a time and focus on what is important.

Make Yourself Available and Be Flexible


A difficult situation can be changing at a faster pace than you think you can handle and therefore it becomes easy to forget to take a moment to stop and evaluate what matters. Making yourself available during a crisis is a vital way to look out for your employees and act as a pillar of hope during unusual circumstances.

Giving an employee your full attention when having a one-on-one conversation is a good start but it’s more about being a visible presence in their work day. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they see you in the kitchen during a lunch break but giving them access to you as a resource when they need it. A suggestion for making yourself available is to hold office hours in which you set aside time to answer questions from your employees and attend to any concerns they express. This shows your staff that you are there to help them succeed in their position at the company and reinforce the importance of their help to see the company succeed.

Flexibility is an especially important trait during a crisis. Flexible leaders can modify their business approaches in unpredictable circumstances and adapt to changes as they arise.

As a business manager who is seeking to become more flexible here are a few key things to consider:

  • Revising plans to incorporate new innovations and overcome challenges
  • Implementing new behaviors into existing situations
  • Expressing creativity and finding new solutions to problems
  • Willing to try new behaviors
  • Thinking about was has worked in the past and what techniques are unnecessary now
In troubling times, your employees and staff will turn to you for guidance and reassurance. Just as a crisis can be unexpected, you can unexpectedly have to rethink your approach of being an effective leader. It’s important to remember that they are human beings going through the same distress as you and need honest communication while feeling cared for. Being a flexible and prepared leader can help ensure that you and your staff are on a united front to get through this situation together.

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