Leading Your Team Through Turbulent Times
When the world seems to go sideways, both on the job and outside of work, you as a leader have an extremely important role to play. In times of uncertainty, morale can plummet, and your team may be struggling to keep moving toward success. But you can help your team focus, communicate, be calm, and be creative. Here are five tips that can help you and your team to get through these turbulent times.
#1 – Stay within your circle of influence and help your team to do the same. We all know that any leader should step up during a crisis. However, leaders aren’t exempt from feeling down, stressed, worried, or (insert your own feeling here), while navigating themselves and their team through a crisis. When this happens, I find that a useful technique is to ask yourself what are the things that you can focus on that are really within your control? How can you help yourself and your team not spend time and energy on the things that you can’t affect? You need to determine the difference between what you can control and what might be slightly out of your reach. Choose to focus on those things that are really within your control. (See the 30th anniversary edition of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey, featuring new insights from son, Sean Covey, which launches on May 19 for more on the Circle of Influence.)
#2 – Communicate more, not less. In a time of uncertainty, our natural reaction is to communicate less, especially if we don’t have all the answers to everything that is occurring. In fact, you will want to communicate more and even amplify your communication to really make sure that you and your team are on board with all of the many things that are happening. Many of us are now working remotely, which means that we have also lost our normal “watercooler conversations.” As a leader, you want to be proactive and set up channels of communication. Schedule 1-on-1s with your team members. Leave time on the agenda for questions and answers. Communicate what it is that you know. And be open in sharing that which you don’t know.
#3 – Encourage Team Spirit. As you and your team may be working remotely or much differently than you were before, think through what you can do to keep the team spirit intact. Keep team meetings going. Invite each team member to be on camera, so you can see each other’s facial expressions. Why not add a virtual Friday afternoon coffee break, to get everyone engaged and sharing with each other? On my team, we’ve added some fun aspects, such as having different dress codes on our weekly meeting. My teenage daughters were very surprised to see me in a gala outfit for one meeting and then in their fisherman hat from IKEA the week after. Another idea is to encourage peer coaching and connection. Pair team members with each other, so they can check in and give encouragement, when it is needed.
#4 – Create Calm. When things are stressful, people might feel a certain level of anxiety, including you. As a leader, when you are interacting with your team, create a space that is calm. You may even want to suggest to your team that they participate in simple things, like breathing techniques and focusing on what matters most. Employees working from home tend to work, on average, seven hours more than their peers in an office. Additionally, many are also juggling other roles at home, and this can add additional stress. Check in on the tone and energy that you inspire when in meetings. And for yourself, identify what brings you energy and focus. And what drains your energy. Maybe commit to yourself that you will only check the news three times a day, so you can be in the “now.”
#5 – Encourage creativity. Finally, this could be a brilliant moment to look for new opportunities and possibly even find your best idea ever because when everything is upside down, you are looking at it from a different perspective. You might just get an idea that makes a huge difference to your team and to your business. Look around for those ideas and encourage your team to be creative in this time of change. Create space for yourself and your team to be creative, to think out of the box, to see things from a new perspective.
These five, simple tips can really help you and your team to make sense out of all of this uncertainty and will help you to continue to be successful!
Authored by Victoria Roos-Olsson, FranklinCovey Senior Leadership Consultant and co-author of The Wall Street Journal Bestseller, Everyone Deserves a Great Manager: The 6 Critical Practices For Leading A Team(www.EDAGM.com) and host of the Roos&Shine podcast https://www.roosandshine.com/listen-podcasts/.