When I hear about organizations going through a crisis, I normally think of layoffs, litigation, and other scenarios that can impact morale and affect the quality and quantity of work. However, I think it’s fair to say that we are in anything but a “normal” situation right now. Working (and living) through the COVID19 pandemic seems like uncharted territory in so many ways. I want to offer a few suggestions, based on my experience working at organizations when they were facing massive challenges.
Acknowledge that these are tough times: Managing other employees can be really difficult right now. Even though we may be leaders in an organization, we are not immune from feeling stressed and anxious. The additional managerial responsibilities we have can definitely exacerbate tensions, I’ve found.
Be Transparent: It is understandable for organizational leaders to devote a lot of time to discuss with each other how to adapt to the rapid and extreme changes in the workplace caused by the pandemic. However, failing to communicate with employees and/or withholding salient information from them can destroy company morale. Management should be providing accurate information in a timely manner. I also recommend seeking feedback and input from your employees. Providing an opportunity to ask questions and voice concerns is another method of fostering the great communication skills that are always critical components to resolving crisis situations.
At the Same Time, Be Cautious About Disclosing All Information: Being open and transparent does not mean that leaders need to disclose every piece of information they receive. Organizations need to be cognizant of privacy issues and other legal and practical concerns. Distinguishing between the types of information that should be disclosed and the types that should not be disclosed can help contain things during a crisis.
Stay Organized: Chaos does not help a crisis. Managers should try to be as organized as possible so that the work environment is calm and controlled.