The current situation calls for great flexibility on the part of organizations and their leaders. The way you engage with your teams today will impact how your business will look in the future.
The surprise may have worn off, but it’s important to stay vigilant, prepare for various scenarios and make informed decisions as the situation evolves, making sure to take your workforce—the key to your company’s success—into account.
Human leadership in the face of uncertainty
In times of crisis, employees need to understand the situation and the decisions being made. The leader’s role is to put their ego aside to provide clarity, guidance and reassurance amid the chaos.
There is no “playbook” for leaders. They have to adjust to fluctuating dynamics and tailor their approach to each team and employee’s needs. This is what we call situational leadership.
Good leaders listen to employees and pay attention to their strengths and weaknesses, leveraging each individual’s skills to build a winning team. They know it’s not about them, but about the team, and about engaging each member in the pursuit of a common goal to drive collective action. This is known as transformational leadership.
It’s in tough times that leaders reveal themselves. They are quick to recover and able to make brave and ethical decisions. They humanize the workplace and become culture champions. This crisis is an opportunity to identify those leaders on your team.
There is no place for unempathetic and overly prescriptive leaders. Although employees need strong leadership to guide them through the storm, compassion and understanding are more important now than ever.
Supporting the management team
Not all good managers have extensive leadership experience. In such stressful times, there is a lot of pressure on managers, and some may feel anxious and lose confidence in their abilities. You can help by giving them the leeway they need while reaffirming your support.
Remind them that active communication requires them to be authentic and listen without judgment. Solutions need to come from the group, not a single individual. The best way to engage with your staff is to ask questions. By actively involving each employee, you will mobilize your teams and are more likely to find solutions you wouldn’t have thought of.
One of the methods used in continuous improvement is the “5 whys,” which consists in getting to the root of a problem by exploring underlying cause-and-effect relationships.
How to be a best-in-class employer
Great companies are values-driven and people-oriented. They don’t base decisions solely on short-term profitability. They understand that individuals are the essence of the organization. You need your workers, and if you don’t want them to join your competitors, you have to think about their well-being now.
As part of your post-crisis retention strategy, ask yourself how you can be a best-in-class employer. You should already start assessing the situation and considering what positive changes you can maintain when things go back to normal. Agree with your teams on positive practices that should be sustained and eliminate those that are no longer appropriate or conducive to employee productivity and well-being.
Take advantage of this period of change to encourage initiatives. An example might be to create virtual work groups to brainstorm ideas and refine them until they are ready for implementation.
Of course, as an employer, you should also start planning the company’s return to normal operations and implementing special hygiene and safety measures. If your company has a return-to-work policy, read through it and plan your reopening with your management team and the union if applicable. Review work organization and go over different possible scenarios, incorporating ideas raised during brainstorming workshops with your employees.
Your management of the current situation is an investment in the company’s future. Find ways for your company to stay attractive to employees. Good leaders know how to balance company goals and employee well-being. Being a great place to work means providing a great employee experience, even during periods of uncertainty.