People everywhere are experiencing unprecedented times. While the COVID-19 crisis has ravaged the globe in recent months, its impact on the workplace has been historic as well.
Take the massive shift away from employees gathering in offices and working at home instead. According to a report, employees are overwhelmingly leaning on online learning to figure out how to be effective at the now remote jobs. There has been an immense surge in enrollments in courses related to Telecommuting (21,598% increase) and Virtual Teams (1,523% increase), as well as Decision Making (277% increase), Self Discipline (237% increase), and Stress Management (235% increase).
Navigating through massive change: A blueprint
With the stakes higher than ever, and as businesses face their most formidable challenges in recent history, executives must ask themselves a straightforward question.
“How can I navigate my company through a historic storm with no compass and shoreline in sight?”
As business leaders set sail through unchartered waters in 2020, there is a set of leadership principles to apply as that journey picks up steam. For the best business outcomes, managers need to drill down to the essence of leadership to complete that journey and steer everyone on board to safer shores.
Make “calm” a leadership priority
A global pandemic is a time when panic can and does take hold. But that can’t happen in the executive suite. Job one for any corporate decision-maker leading a company through turbulent times is to exude calm, even if the temptation is to give into infinite stress.
It’s no secret that staffers look to management for signals on how to act themselves. In a global health crisis, that scenario grows exponentially, from employee to employee. By exhibiting calm and establishing it as company sentiment, C-level managers can generate confidence in the company’s operations and its mission. It’s the single most important leadership trait that team members will absorb.
In that respect, demonstrating calm at the company helm is no luxury – it’s a necessity.
Keep it real
While calm is the watchword for management during a crisis, company leaders need to also live in reality during the pandemic.
That means communicating authentically with employees. If a manager isn’t transparent and straightforward throughout a crisis and opts to keep a lid on critical company information, that manager risks losing credibility at a time when credibility is what’s needed most.
Instead, be candid with employees about current company decisions and strategies, even as you’re making those decisions on the fly during the pandemic.
Employees will appreciate honesty – even if that honesty needs to be communicated in a highly disbursed remote work environment.
Leverage a “crisis team” to ensure further stability
Employees and customers are a company’s most valuable assets, and protecting their health should be a top management priority.
That’s why it’s a wise idea to build a solid “crisis response team” comprised of critical company stakeholders. As the COVID-19 crisis is highly dynamic in nature, so too are the strategies companies need to deploy to keep up with current events.
By assembling a crisis management team of various department heads and skilled company communicators, corporate leaders have a key leadership group in place that manages several key functions.
First and foremost, the team can monitor and process developing news generated by the crisis. It can also respond to shifting local health and safety regulations, thus providing more safety to staffers and customers. Finally, it can establish a blueprint in advance of the “all clear” message from government leaders that opens up the company for more face-to-face interactions inside the company.
After all, every crisis requires a strategy, and forging a team of skilled problem-solvers to help steer the company to calmer waters is a big company asset.
That’s especially the case when the storm clouds clear and life goes back to normal – and when a stable and secure port of call will finally be in sight.