Managing employees through a corporate crisis is one of the biggest career challenges you can face. Sudden change, uncertainty, and anxiety about the future can take a toll on productivity and morale. It’s your job as a manager to do the best you can to prevent this from happening.
Keeping your team motivated during tough times isn’t easy. However, strong leadership, good communication, and empathy can make all the difference. Let’s look at a few strategies for helping your team navigate a crisis.
1. Lead by example. Your team will follow your cues, so remain calm and upbeat. Encourage employees to continue to do their best work. Stick to your usual routine and schedule. If your department normally meets for a status review on Tuesday mornings, keep that date and time on the calendar.
2. Communicate. Your managerial communication skills are of utmost importance during difficult times. Explain the circumstances to the best of your knowledge. Be honest and forthright and share what you know. This will show employees you are sensitive to their need for information and have their best interests at heart. Address issues as they arise, and update your staff regularly as new developments occur. This is a situation where keeping employees well informed is of utmost importance.
3. Listen. There’s an old adage that states, “talking is silver and listening is gold.” Keep in mind that being a good listener is every bit as important as sharing information. Employees need to feel that they are being “heard,” especially in times of crisis, so sharpen your active listening skills. Give your undivided attention to any employee coming to speak with you. Try to understand his or her perspective. Maintain an open-door policy that lets your team know you’re approachable. Consider holding town hall-style meetings that allow management to address and hear from all employees at once. This way, no one feels left in the dark. Acting on questions raised in these meetings will let employees know they’re still valued, and that their concerns matter.
4. Ask employees for help. Encourage teams to brainstorm solutions to different problems. The collaboration will engage employees at a time when their bonds to the organization may be strained. Plus, your employees might save the day with innovative ideas that management hasn’t considered.
5. Acknowledge hard work and jobs well done. Employees who go above and beyond during times of adversity should be publicly recognized and rewarded (monetarily, if possible). Even token gifts have proven to be a powerful motivator and morale booster.
Setbacks and corporate crises are an unfortunate part of the business landscape. They are unpredictable and certainly not pleasant. You may not be able to control the ultimate outcome of the situation. But these strategies can help your organization move forward during difficult times.