When I speak to people working at start-ups and large companies, one thing is becoming clear in this crisis. Everyone is completely focused on “how does this impact me”.
It’s a question most of us as leaders and managers forget to address. And its one that can make all the difference to engagement, productivity and brand.
Here is a “back to basics” guide to engage teams through these uncertain times
Talk to your teams!
More often than not, we choose to ignore a situation than take it head on. We think that no news is better than bad news. But guess what? No news is also seen as bad news! The easier way is not avoiding difficult discussions! The reality is that situations become easier to handle when information is shared and issues are discussed with honesty. Talk to your teams!
Specific vs Generic
Each of us deals with uncertainty differently. Reactions and fears will be different. As managers talk to each team member 1:1, individual concerns become clear and easier to address. Painting the big picture will give them a broad idea of what will happen in the long term. But also remember to discuss and clarify what will happen in the short term. Talk about what it means to the person (& not just to the team and company)
Be visible and accessible
We all hate to be directly linked to bad news. So, in times of uncertainty, many leaders and managers tend to “hide” behind company-wide mails and group mails. But now more than ever it is important for leaders and managers to be visible and accessible. Run virtual AMA (ask me anything) sessions and create “virtual open office hours” where people can set up time to talk 1:1 with you. Be reachable! Be responsive! Be compassionate!
Some years ago, at a company I worked for, we had to layoff some people because of a business downturn. The situation was traumatic as we had never done layoffs before. But the leadership was very clear right from the start – that we must ensure that people are treated well through this process. And we did. Over a period of time, how we handled this became company legend and helped us build a reputation for fairness and compassion!
We judge our managers and leaders by how they deal with a crisis. How they treat us when things go wrong. We give our trust, loyalty and our best work only when our leaders and managers show that they care about us.