The pace of change was already at top speed – we were always running to keep up. Now Coronavirus has given us all a level of change that we’ve never experienced before. We’re feeling scared, confused and uncertain, and we’re working as fast as we can to mitigate the damage caused and to find new opportunities as the crisis passes.
It’s highly likely that your teams are feeling the same way as you. They’re worried for their livelihoods and fearing the worst. It’s your job as a leader to make sure they know how much they’re valued and understand what’s in store for them. This blog post looks at different ways you can be a better leader through this period of major change.
By keeping your team informed about the importance of the work they’re doing, the security of their roles and the timing of future updates, you can help them to stay with you through these tough times. Even if your team members have been furloughed, you can keep them up to date about what’s happening at work and when you can expect the furlough period to come to an end.
People who have been furloughed are worried that their jobs aren’t needed and fear redundancy in the near future. Those who have been kept at work can be feeling resentful if others are being paid 80% to stay at home. You need to find ways to communicate openly with all groups of staff, to keep them motivated and positive about your business.
Even if you don’t know what’s going to happen and you can’t give exact timescales, you could share a dependent timeline. Just like Boris Johnson’s roadmap to easing the lockdown, use a critical path to show your thinking around timescales. This could even be linked to the key stages in the Government’s roadmap. For example, when non-essential retailers can open, potentially on a set date, it may be possible for employees to return to the office for two days each week. Once you have an outline timeline, put together a plan and encourage employees to contribute. Asking people to give their ideas will help them to feel empowered and valued.
During times of significant change, people can be worried about asking questions. They may worry that they come across as too needy or difficult or may not want to be perceived as lacking understanding. Many people wait until they’re told, and if they’re not told by an official source, they rely on rumours and hearsay from people who aren’t authorised to share news on your behalf. Look what happened with the 5G conspiracy on social media.
Leave your door open for questions and concerns, and reassure team members that you are keen to help them and answer their queries as best you can, with the caveat that you may not have all the answers yourself. Allocate set times for questions, especially when you have made any announcement or shared any news. This will help employees to feel that they can trust you and show them that you are being honest and helpful.
Expect some conflict
If the current scale of crisis means you must make difficult decisions and pivot your business in a new direction, you can expect conflict to occur. People can feel competitive, aggressive and territorial if they feel their role or work area is at risk. As a great leader, your job is to resolve any conflict positively. You can begin this process by negating any miscommunication, encouraging constructive feedback and by acting as openly and fairly as possible.
Be sure to focus on people rather than processes, use real figures to show key performance indicators such as profit, sales and customer sentiment. Good leaders coach and mentor their teams, giving them confidence to share their feelings, ideas and frustrations. By listening to concerns, asking questions, and engaging in solutions, you can help to dissolve conflict and spread positivity.
Get the latest insights
If you’d like to talk about the next steps for your own business in the brave world, I’d love to chat. At this difficult time I’m setting aside part of my day to offer free mini Executive Coaching and Mentoring to people who would value some help in adopting a new way of working, exploring the impact of change on their business or to think through how they can best manage change. Get in touch if you’d like to talk.