We’ve all been a part of fire drills meant to prepare employees, in case of an emergency. But nothing could have prepared us for a pandemic like this! When the World Health Organization made the announcement, the initial response was widespread nervousness and fear. Companies that had never imagined teams working remotely possible, begun opting to work from home, rather than risking the lives of their people.
With everyone in apprehension on how to handle things, the first person that employees look up to is their leader.
But what can a leader really do to maintain equilibrium during a global crisis?
Leadership demands transparency and communication
A leader is one who walks the talk to show the way. While one of your major tasks is to provide assurance, during a time where information is uncertain and answers are few, a leader’s words can make a huge difference. Before there arises an opportunity for an internal grapevine to grow, ensure that all decisions by the management are consistently, and clearly communicated to the teams, in the most possible transparent manner.
Start chalking out a ‘post lockdown’ business strategy and make provisions to align stakeholders as well as the employees to the company’s vision. An optimistic foresight will not only inspire the team but also provide them with a sense of reassurance, that their company has got their back.
Empower with a sense of purpose
While it's necessary to emphasize on the importance of staying safe, ensuring productivity as well as looking out for employees’ holistic well-being, is also a leader’s responsibility. As the days go by, exhaustion and mental fatigue can seep in, hindering everyday activities. Engaging the teams with motivational videos could make a difference, but not sustain their interests for long.
Thus, simple initiatives not only lighten up the mood but also reinvokes the sense of belonging. Always appreciate your pillars of strength and reward teams for their good as well as hard work. Disseminating interactive online quizzes, rolling out dipstick surveys, or making an announcement of the next fiscal’s biggest milestone – There always is something to look forward to.
Invest in digital learning
No matter how unpleasant the current situation might be, the learning must never stop! Right now, a lot of companies are delaying salary increments and postponing appraisals due to an estimated cash crunch. It’s either that or asking people to leave and eventually declaring bankruptcy if they dig into their cash reserves.
In times like these, fake promises may buy you time, but honesty will buy you respect. Instead, engage your team members by encouraging them to upskill. Udemy, LinkedIn Pulse, Coursera, Harvard University, a lot of platforms have been offering free short duration courses. Motivate your team members to learn something new. This will also help channelize their current skills into something constructive.
Sharing ‘relevant information'
Social media has become the new in-shorts today and news on Twitter spreads like wildfire. The amount of fake news doing the rounds is equally on the rise and the number of people being duped in the name of ‘donation/funds/saving lives’ is simply insane! As a leader, you would have access to some premium information, be it reports on trends, data analytics on market research, exclusive invites to online webinars, corporate social responsibility huddles, etc. Ensure that you share snippets and excerpts with your teams to help them stay at par with the industry as well.
Instead of solely focusing on the future of work, this is the perfect time to bring in the best practice of Employee Assistance Programs and focus on listening to people’s ideas, feedback, as well as their concerns, and anxieties.
Be patient and lead with empathy. Because a leader is only as good as their team.