In these uncertain times, how you treat your employees will be remembered for years to come. How you respond as an employer will have a lasting impact on employee behavior including, engagement, productivity and loyalty.
Here are things you can do as a leader to help your team adjust to the ‘new normal’.
1. Shift your leadership style
If you are usually a decisive, authoritative leader, crises like the coronavirus outbreak will be where you come into your own, but it is not always the right approach especially when it comes to employee well-being. Good leaders must be able to judge what tone best suits each occasion. Take on a more open and adaptable leadership style.
2. Relax the rules
This is not a case of ‘business as usual’…but at home. Any leader who fails to acknowledge the psychological impact of being in lockdown or quarantined at home, will be letting their team down. Employees’ needs, behaviors and attitudes to their work will change. Savvy leaders must be able to distinguish when behavior is born out of uncertainty or fear and support rather than chastise employees. In these times of crisis, “open door” policy has never made more sense. Leaders need to ensure they are accessible - probably more so than usual.
3. Have open and honest communication
Ask how your employees are doing on a personal level and be receptive to wherever that answer may lead. As a leader, you too may be struggling, and it is imperative that you both look after yourself, and be open about the reality of the situation for you. Role modelling healthy behaviours, having a positive outlook, and sharing how you are feeling can all help. Business leaders must be open to being vulnerable.
4. Welcome feedback.
Not everything will go perfectly. Some people will be critical. Solicit and welcome feedback. A critical component to engagement is employees feeling that they are heard. Soliciting feedback demonstrates your willingness to listen. Also, let employees know how you acted on their suggestions.
5. Trust employees to make decisions.
Our world is in flux. It will be impossible to control everything employees do. Give them as much direction as time and circumstance allow, welcome questions, then allow them to do their jobs. Let employees know you trust them. It will help you get through this and will carry over when the crisis subsides.
6. Stay connected
We all need to feel a human connection. Schedule social meet-ups with random team members over lunch breaks or after work. Spend this time catching up and talking about other things than work. Encourage your employees to do this too amongst themselves.
Collectively, these actions can go a long way to reinforce your employees’ trust for the organization and improve their impressions based on how you react in the face of crisis and uncertainty.