Managing a team of employees involves heavy focus and dedication at the best of times, let alone with the many unique challenges brought on by a global crisis. While you expect your employees to remain focused and productive, they now face the added weight of health concerns, job security and a changing social landscape.
Whether your team is 15 or 50, working from home or socially distancing in the office, they’ll be looking to you for support, guidance and direction in these uncertain times. Let’s look at four ways you can improve your leadership and keep your team performing, even in a remote working environment.
Before all else, it’s important to create strong communication channels for your team, especially if your office is working remotely. Be sure to provide them with all means necessary—whether it's an online chat platform like Slack or Microsoft Teams, conference calling through Zoom or Google Hangouts, or plain old-fashioned phone calls and emails.
Once you’ve chosen your communication channels, don’t be afraid to use them—and often. Your team deserves updates on the company, new projects, any updated provincial regulations, etc., and shouldn’t be left in the dark. Just as you expect your team members to check in frequently, you should be checking in with them regularly as well.
In the midst of the utter chaos that follows a crisis, be sure your staff remains focused on your organization’s overall vision. Employees may be struggling to adjust to a 'new normal’ in their own roles and lives and forget to take a step back to remember the very purpose of their work.
There is danger in ignoring the bigger picture—the strength of working as a team can be forgotten and the purpose of each mundane task might not feel clear or focused. It’s a good idea to reiterate your organization’s vision in a staff meeting or in an email. Chances are your staff could use a reminder on why the work they do is valuable and necessary, even (and especially) in times of crisis.
All of us are dealing with the same life-altering reality in these unprecedented times. However, the way we handle stress differs from individual to individual.
As a leader, it is not weak to show compassion and understanding for your team. In fact, it’s important to be extra sensitive as each person deals with his/her own trauma, health issues and a ‘new normal’ way of living.
Offer an open door if anyone on your team needs to talk, connect them with health services and encourage them to speak with HR if they are having additional problems. Allow adjustments and be flexible as you all navigate through the uncertain waters of the next few months. The time and energy you spend making sure your staff feel supported will be more than made up for in loyal, lasting employees and honest work.
It might seem silly to look farther than the next week, day or even hour while in such uncertain times, but as a leader you must be able to look past the now and onto the next. How will things look a year from now? Five years from now? More importantly, what does this mean for your employees? The company? How will things change and how will they stay the same?
Try to answer these questions for yourself, and keep your team in the loop whenever possible (of course, most of the time your answer will sound more like ‘it depends’, or ‘I just don’t have an answer for you yet.’) The way you grow and learn from a crisis is just as important as the way you react to one.