As is the case for most managers and supervisors during the COVID 19 crisis when your team is forced to deal with tough realities or constantly shifting circumstances, your leadership skills immediately take center stage. After all, the group may succeed or fail based on your handling of the situation.
So when work becomes difficult, demanding, or stressful, try to keep the following tips to in mind to help you and your staff remain positive and productive in challenging times.
1. Be both optimistic and realistic. Provide factual information and answer questions accurately, but avoid "gloom and doom” scenarios. As the leader, you set the emotional tone for your group, so do your best to keep their spirits up.
2. Point out the greater purpose. Look for any upside and share that perspective. Is this work helping others? Preventing future problems? Saving the business? Making the world a better place?
Don't be annoyingly cheerful, but do help employees see the value in their efforts, especially as they maybe the only ones still working in their personal environment.
3. Recognize your role as a role model. People automatically take their cues from the leader, so you must model the behavior you expect. If your staff is working long hours, pitch in and help out. If you expect them to meet tight deadlines, be sure you do the same. And to minimize griping, don't be a complainer yourself.
4. Stay flexible. Challenging circumstances often require us to modify our ways of working and that is especially true during this unexpected period of physical separation. If employees are being asked to make disruptive changes, try to flex as much as possible to accommodate their needs. And when that can't be done, explain why.
5. Establish clear expectations. When circumstances change radically, people need a thorough understanding of the new requirements. Specifically, describe objectives to be met and actions to be taken. Answer questions quickly and provide frequent updates.
6. Create consistent communication routines. During difficult times like these, regular interaction becomes more important than ever. Predictable communication practices will help to boost morale, prevent missed deadlines, and avoid unexpected outcomes.
7. Show appreciation. When people do good work, applaud those achievements! And if circumstances put extra pressure on employees, express appreciation for a positive response. If you never say "thanks”, people may soon stop going the extra mile.
8. Make timely decisions. When people are constantly stressed or frustrated, they don't need the extra irritation of waiting for you to make up your mind. So do not procrastinate – if you have a tendency to delay decision-making, it's time to break that habit!
9. Involve employees when you can. Whenever possible, include employees in the decisions that affect them. Ask for their opinion, listen to what they say, and incorporate any appropriate ideas. But when a decision is firm and final, make that clear.
10. Take a break together, virtually. When the pressure is on, finding time to recharge as a group is even more important. Despite the fact that you can't congregate physically right now, make use of the many online connection options.
Celebrate accomplishments, provide updates, share appropriate personal stories, and simply enjoy each other's company for a while, even if it is at a distance.