In the face of the COVID-19 crisis, businesses have taken a hit amidst the “new normal.” With no sure answers regarding how to cure the virus, how long must the austere safety measures continue, and what the possible treatments are, there is much uncertainty that companies and employees face.
Part of business survival in this trying times relies on how managers can lead during a crisis. Employees are looking to their leaders to acknowledge the situation, win their trust, and guide them and the company through the circumstances until it's over. Here are strategies that CEOs and top managers can adopt to lead effectively, even outside of the office.
1. Stay informed
The first step to being a capable leader during times of crisis is to arm yourself with facts. It is crucial to keep a close eye on the latest information across all aspects of the business—general situation, the status of suppliers, client base, financial status and cash flow, etc.
Updating yourself with multiple expert opinions and vetting the accuracy of information is also a must. This allows you to have a data-driven perspective that is credible and reliable in rapidly-changing circumstances.
2. Communicate openly
Informing yourself and your crisis response team is essential, but so is informing your stakeholders. Provide relevant updates to your employees in a concise, timely, and organized manner to better frame the situation and give context to the management's decisions.
Create a thoughtfully-worded statement for clients, suppliers, other stakeholders, and the general public. You may also monitor social media, email, and SMS metrics to ensure maximum dissemination.
These forms of communication should not only disclose any changes happening in the company but also foster trust with these groups and reassure them of the company's continued dedication and service.
3. Be adaptable
The “new normal” means that companies need to change the way they run their operations in order to weather through the crisis. Consider adjusting and adapting measures for work from home policies, project management, task and time monitoring, leave applications, and employee benefits.
Ideally, the plan moving forward should enable operations during these uncertain times but put the well-being and safety of your employees first. Depending on the nature of your industry, you may need to pace these changes more frequently to keep up with the developments.
4. Have a plan
Aside from having a day-to-day plan, a business continuity plan (BCP) should also be in your line-up. A BCP is a comprehensive plan that safeguards operations during a crisis and thoroughly details steps that the company must take during those times. When BCPs are effective, adapting to various circumstances will be smoother and more efficient.
Creating a BCP allows you to anticipate and respond better to problems. Aside from this, it offers an opportunity to ground these protocols in the learnings, changes, and circumstances the company has to navigate.
5. Keep calm
Company heads represent the company and its values, making it all the more critical that these leaders respond correctly to this ongoing crisis. The best recourse is to remain calm and collected—it can be easy to slip into fear and anxiety, but leading by example can make all the difference for the company's morale.
In your communications, make sure to use words that are firm yet warm. Your stakeholders will look at you to be decisive and keep everyone's spirits up in the face of these challenges. Additionally, highlighting what can be done now and what steps are in place for the future helps allay any possible worry from these groups.
6. Foster community
With the public mandates to avoid unnecessary public gatherings and self-quarantine, your people may be struggling to motivate themselves or focus on work. Let your employees know that they are not alone in their worries by creating channels of communication where they can air their grievances, provide feedback, and ask questions.
It is also vital to give your employees space to strengthen their camaraderie and connections with one another. Your company culture may have been dependent on the office space and environment, but sharing that on a digital platform can help give a sense of normalcy and stability to them.
Leading effectively during this crisis can have a tremendous impact on your company once the worst is over. Your employees will remember the way their leaders responded to the situation—what was done, how they were treated, and how their needs were met. With the right strategies, you may come out of this situation with a stronger company with employees who will stick by you through thick and thin.
Lou Zandrian Lobrin is Marketing & Sustainability Manager of Esquire Financing, a lending firm offering non-collateral business loans to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). He enjoys traveling, cultural immersion and meeting new people outside work.