Leaders lead during times of uncertainty—and we’re now facing uncertainty like never before. The COVID-19 pandemic has shuttered many businesses, abruptly halted projects, made a shambles of business development and marketing plans, and plunged people all over the world into profound anxiety over their well-being and economic security.
This is your time to step up. You must be the solid, steady pillar your team members can rely on. Be consistent in all you say and do, proactive in your communications and compassionate in addressing your team members’ needs. By doing so, you’ll build trust and engagement.
The following are six tactics you can use to keep your employees engaged and informed during this crisis:
- Communicate consistently, openly, honestly and frequently: It’s important to establish a cadence—keep communication with your team as constant and routine as you can. If you haven’t already, set up weekly check-ins or meetings via video chats or phone calls. This will keep you up-to-date not only on any projects team members are working on, but also on their potential struggles adjusting to the current events. Be transparent and open with your employees. By building an honest rapport and trust between you and your team, you’re building a solid foundation for a strong work ethic and willingness to work through tough times.
- Be as present as possible: Most people are working from home for the time being, so it’s more important than ever that you remain present. Be available to your employees in any way you can—keep your chats open on whatever platform you and your teams use, but also be available to video-chat or hop on a phone call, even if it’s just for a short one-on-one. Your employees will appreciate the extra level of support or just knowing you’re there.
- Don’t overpromise — say only what you know: In times like these, leaders want to assure employees that everything will be okay and there’s no need to worry. While this may be true for some companies, don’t promise a sense of security that won’t hold up. Make sure everyone knows what you know—things are changing, and that might mean changes for them in the near future.
- Give your team members multiple opportunities to ask questions: While you may not have all of the answers at the moment, everyone is going to have a million and one questions. You want them to be able to bring those questions and concerns to you as conveniently as possible. And you need to respond quickly—this goes hand in hand with being present. Depending on the size of your team/company, you can set up a Google Form that your employees can access to submit questions to you. Make it a goal to answer everyone’s questions by the end of each week. Or, have an open channel of communication through which they can always reach you with questions—email, chat room, phone call, etc. If the same question comes up repeatedly or is particularly relevant to the situation, feel free to put your answer out to your entire team or company through a memo or video.
- Ask about their families: It’s important to be there for your employees in a professional capacity during a crisis, but don’t forget that you can reach out to them personally as well. Ask how their families are doing, if they need anything and if there’s any way you can help. Sometimes just offering support is enough, and it reinforces that you care!
- Be understanding, approachable and personable: Being understanding can go a long way. These are difficult times for every family and every person in different ways, and we’re all forced to make big adjustments. Working from home is just one such adjustment, and people may be experiencing different setbacks. Recognizing that people are having a hard time, and that they might need to take time for themselves sometimes to help them cope, is another meaningful way to support your team.
As a leader, you need to show your employees that you support them and that you’re staying strong in these uncertain, upsetting times. Everyone is going through a difficult adjustment, and your job is to be there for them, show them you understand what they’re going through, and encourage and maintain open, honest communications.