The COVID-19 pandemic is causing unprecedented disruption in our personal and professional lives.
As a leader, this moment requires you to think differently about how you are managing. It starts with an inventory of new realities that increase the risk at work.
You could have fewer people working. Your teams may be smaller, they may be doing more work, and they may be working longer. Some people can work remotely; maybe they are using more technology, which can be a new experience for many, and they may be following new working methods that require physical distance.
People are also distracted by the adjustments in their family life. Their children are home from school, or perhaps their spouse shares their home office.
With all these new realities in your hand, what else can you do as a leader? Here are seven things you can do right now to show your employees you have their backs and help protect them during this heightened time of anxiety.
- Check your employees frequently. Do it individually and in groups. Ask about their wellbeing, as well as that of their family, friends, and colleagues.
- Help them make better and safer decisions that protect themselves and others. For example, help them recognize opportunities when decision-making plays a role. If my regular team has four members and I now have only two, I might ask, “Can we stimulate the workload so that we don’t experience brain or muscle fatigue? Is it okay to slow down? Is it possible to exchange jobs more frequently? Can we take more ergonomic stretching breaks during the day? “
- Be more accessible. It may mean expanding your door of availability. Recognize that people are concerned and may need to speak to someone from management. This could mean checking them more often. It would help if you also made it easier for your team to get in touch with you. Please give them your cell phone number and answer them when they call. By being more accessible, you can guide them in the decisions they need to control their situations.
- Be empathetic. Look at things from their point of view and take a few steps in their shoes. This will help get a sense of what they are dealing with.
- Express your confidence and support. “We’ll get through this,” and “It’s okay to pause work for safety reasons while we try to figure things out.”
- Say “thank you” and recognize that what they do to help each other and their businesses are appreciated. Know that people manage interruptions in their personal lives and continue to do their jobs safely and correctly. Express your sincere gratitude for the professionalism and assistance that operators bring to their work every day. When people know you care, they are likely to do more for you and their coworkers. This is an excellent opportunity for you to show that your organization values humanity.
- Identify who your conversation partner is. Someone you can talk to, someone you can lean on for support. Burnout is a real threat to all leaders, and you must remember to take care of yourself so that you can take care of others. You cannot give what you do not have.
- It’s a moment that will determine your business’s future and your future as a leader. The ultimate financial consequences of this crisis are unknown, and we cannot control them. But what we can control is how we behave as leaders.
The best boss whoever taught me something essential decades ago, and it’s still true today. He told me, “It’s easy to be a good leader when the going is good, but your real test as a leader comes when the going gets tough.”
So how are you going to measure yourself?
Opinions expressed by CEO Weekly contributors are their own.