When the dust settles, it stands to reason that the coronavirus will have disrupted our professional and personal lives in ways that we just can’t understand at this point. And while we begin to examine life and work as the pandemic recedes, we still have to consider what this next phase looks like, and what it will require of us in order to keep our organizations positioned for success.
As we’ve no doubt grown accustomed to during the crisis, the time ahead will continue to demand precise planning, clear communication and genuine empathy. Not only has top- and bottom-line growth taken a hit, but our employees – whom we ultimately depend on to power growth and productivity – have been separated from many of the things that give their lives meaning: work, routine, camaraderie, and unfortunately in some cases, income. Forging ahead into this next “new normal” will fall largely on us; the decisions we make right now and moving forward will ripple through any post-corona recovery and success we hope to achieve.
Shape the clarity
It’s been said that two of the most important things a leader has in a crisis are information and understanding. The information we deliver should remain authoritative, transparent and reliable – identify the situation for what it was, what it is and what it’s going to be. In turn, the empathy should reveal a genuine concern for your people, and a willingness to do what needs to be done to relieve hardship and pain as much as possible.
And this isn’t a time for heroes. Instill in your team(s) a desire to pull up and out of this crisis together. Lead by example – which often means creating an environment open to collaboration and compassion. If they already haven’t, your workforce will put their trust in you, followed by their faith, as you continue to shape the clarity of the moment and advocate for a strength-in-numbers approach.
But it’s also easy in a crisis to overlook self-care. So, as you endeavor to pilot the new way forward, remember your own physical and mental health. Not only could you create a challenge within a challenge by buckling beneath too much responsibility, but your employees could potentially take your lead, and the results could replicate down through the company, resulting in a new, unnecessary, catastrophe.
Assortment of challenges
Another reality for many of us within the pandemic has been remote working. While some of us are used to it, or at least a version of it, many of our employees may not be. And so, as we likely have to face the prospect of a modified work environment for the weeks or months ahead, we need to recognize that virtual work comes with its own assortment of challenges to navigate.
An absence of colleagues can quickly create a loneliness within certain employees that affects both work and spirit. When members of a team are missing the team, performance can decrease, often collectively. All the more reason to facilitate facetime as much as possible – and keep communication lines consistent, open and thorough.
Additionally, technology, in all its grandeur, still might discourage certain workers – especially older employees. This is where we can, again, practice some understanding, and take the necessary steps to understand how our people can be at their most productive, and get them there.
Ultimately, an enduring crisis requires us to face hard truths while remaining agile and adaptive. And like our workforce, we’re learning along the way too. But success within, and beyond, this point will require connection, communication and an ability to appreciate and identify with certain members that might need a little more help. Like any crisis, this one has a beginning, middle and end, and how it affects our organizations all the way through that cycle depends on what types of leaders we choose to be within the moment.