The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many to experience anxiety and distress, particularly in regards to how the situation may affect their financial and professional lives. That’s why it’s very important right now for leaders to step up and inspire hope. Although you may understandably be struggling with your own difficult feelings, it’s your responsibility to help your employees feel more confident. You can do so in the following key ways:
Research and Communication
The phrase “knowledge is power” may be a cliche, but that’s only because it’s true. Leaders who’ve successfully navigated the pandemic are typically those willing to learn about their options. For instance, if you research the topic of assistance for small business owners, you might know about the CARES act small business loan, along with other relief options that could help you stay afloat financially.
Don’t focus on negativity and despair right now. Instead, look into all the positive ways your organization may continue to thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic.
That said, it’s equally important to communicate what you learn to your team. They need someone to offer them hope. By researching your options and discussing them with employees, you’ll help them better understand why there’s good reason to continue feeling optimistic. Just make sure you’re also being transparent when you have bad news to share.
Keep in mind that communication during the pandemic may not happen as naturally or as often as usual if your team has shifted to a remote work model. You need to be particularly vigilant about making sure that lack of frequent communication doesn’t become a major problem.
Again, even if you don’t necessarily feel calm all the time these days, you need to at least appear calm. Your team needs to feel they can count on you to guide the way. On top of that, research shows that pretending to feel a certain way, whether it’s calm, confident, or even happy, can actually make you develop those genuine feelings.
Along with being calm, you should also make a point of being compassionate. Don’t let your workers get away with too much slacking, but remember that they’re anxious right now, and may not always perform as strongly as they did in the past.
Recognizing Unhealthy Approaches
Not all team members will perform below their abilities or take more time off in a crisis. Some people find they can more easily manage their anxiety (at first) by throwing themselves into work.
To some degree, this is acceptable, but as a leader, you shouldn’t overlook when someone is working too hard in order to mask anxiety. This could lead to burnout in the long run. In the short term, when that energy may still be yielding results, it also simply isn’t ethical to take advantage of someone’s unhealthy way of coping with stress.
Yes, the COVID-19 pandemic is an inherently bad situation for everyone. That said, as a leader, you can see it as an opportunity to prove yourself to your team. Now is when it’s most important to show them you have what it takes to guide them to success.
Guest post courtesy of Luke Hayward