In times of a pandemic, fear and panic are prevalent.
It's a very natural and human response. As a leader, how you respond to such events can make or break your team and organization's ability to come together. The two most critical skills to hone during these times of crisis are emotional management and well-thought-out preparation. Yes, we need to move swiftly. At the same time, we need to be intentional in our strategy and communication while honoring the human side of business.
It's during times of crisis that a true leader shines through. Let this be the time you lead your team into calm while handling the concerns and reality of a new normal for the next quarter and possibly beyond.
To help you move through this smoother, here are some tools and resources you can put to use immediately with your teams. The first set of tools focus on your people. The second set on the environment.
Your People & Emotional Management
As leaders, how can we foster an open environment for sharing without moving into panic and pandemonium?
Share the Facts - Information is king. People panic and get concerned when they don’t have the full picture. This is a critical time to share resources your employees can reference regarding their own health and the health of their families. Equip your teams with the knowledge and then provide an open forum for them to share.
These two resources provide scientific facts about the virus and the status of treatments and vaccines you can share with your team:
1. Infographics about coronavirus as it relates to other virus’ - Infographic about the virus
2. Status of treatments & vaccines - Status of treatments and vaccines
Create an Open Forum for Sharing - Hold closed-door forums where people can share openly about how they are feeling and what they are struggling with. Let them know in advance that what they share is held in confidence. Set the sole purpose of the session to acknowledge what is there and to name it. Keep in mind that the first session may open the dialogue to uncover concerns and gather needs but there will need to be more sharing as people experience a new way of working. Hold follow-up forums to keep the dialogue open.
By holding these open forums, you not only build greater trust among your team members, but you also give them an outlet to get things off their chest so they can get back to doing their best work. It’s the first step in shifting fear into transformation. Ensure everyone’s voice counts. Here are questions to help kickstart the conversation:
- What has been taking up mind-space and weighing you down since the outbreak of the coronavirus?
- What are you afraid will happen?
- What’s the thing that’s hard to be with?
- What would best support you during this time?
- What do you most need to stay focused and clear during your workday?
- What are other companies putting in place to support their staff that might work here? (E.g. Apple offering unlimited sick days - Sick days at Apple)
Shifting to a Virtual Environment
Working virtually is not new to business. Virtual workers have been around for decades, but it’s times like these that put virtual working to the test. Here are some questions to keep in mind as you prepare for a virtual work environment:
- How can our project work and meetings be done in a virtual setting?
- What needs to be in place for that to happen?
- What team norms need to be discussed in advance for working virtually?
- What web conferencing tools do we already have in-house to work virtually? (Zoom is one of the best I recommend as you can easily hold breakout sessions among the group and come back together to share findings. I use Zoom for all my virtual trainings with my clients and it works great. Google and Microsoft are offering free virtual work platforms for a period of time: Check out the info here: Offer from Google and Microsoft)
Bottom line: As leaders, we need to address both the emotional side and environment side of the equation. One without the other will not suffice. Keep the dialogue going, keep your doors open, and seek support when necessary.
You don't have to go it alone! If you’d like a sounding board to get feedback on your approach or new ideas, feel free to set up a brainstorm session. Call me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org email
If you are looking to improve the performance of your virtual teams, I have been providing 2 hr. virtual training programs in the last decade to address the following:
- How to Coach Your Virtual Team to Success
- Communication and Teamwork that Works Across Time Zones
- Mastering Confrontation and Difficult Behavior on a Virtual Team
- Running Virtual Meetings that Lead to Results
- Time Management Strategies that Keep Virtual Teams on Track
- Managing Work/Life Balance in a Virtual Work Environment
More details on these programs found under the section “Programs to Improve Virtual Team Performance” at https://www.workshopuniversity.com/book-jean/corporate-training-speaking/