In these unprecedented times, the world is looking for stability. Just as the markets crave stability, so does your team. That’s because both are afraid of uncertainty. So in your workplace you can use your leadership to provide stability—and help combat fear in your team.
Right now everyone is trying to stop the spread of COVID-19, but no one knows if the resulting economic damage from the virus will be worse. And right now everyone on your team is wondering if they will lose their jobs later down the line. So all the fear of uncertainty is taking its toll on your team.
Even if you don’t have all the answers right now, here’s how you can provide some stability for your team and help them combat fear in this crisis.
Be the shepherd.
Your leadership is needed now more than ever. With all the uncertainty and fear swirling around them, your team is looking for comfort in the storm. They need you to be the shepherd for the team.
People can be a lot like sheep, especially when they are afraid. They are looking for reassurance. Your people may make decisions that are not normal because fear is taking its toll in their lives. Be patient; be understanding. You don’t have to lower your standards, but you do need to make allowances for people to process the change in their lives.
People need to know that you understand what they are going through because of COVID-19. As their employer, they need you to be a shepherd to comfort them.
It’s important to communicate fully what you know with your team. Don’t keep them guessing. Even if you don’t have all the information, it’s important for you to say that you don’t have all the information. The absence of clear information will create rumor mills. Don’t allow rumor mills to take over in your team or your organization.
If you do have to lay off some of your people, make sure you communicate that fully to your team. But do not have more than one round of layoffs. Do all the layoffs at once so that it is over and done with. You don’t want to prolong the fallout any more than you absolutely have to.
As you communicate with your team, remember why you communicate in the first place: the purpose of communication is not just to transmit information, it is to develop relationships. If you are to shepherd your people and help them combat fear, you want to communicate as much as you possibly can to provide them reassurance and develop those relationships. But be deliberate in what you share so that you are not inadvertently creating the rumor mills you are trying to avoid.
Keep your focus.
Be real with your team. Explain to your team that you are focused on shepherding them, but that you are also focused on shepherding the organization. Your team needs to be reminded that your first loyalty is to the organization and all its stakeholders. Not just shareholders, and not just employees. All the organization’s stakeholders.
While you are leading the organization, don’t lose sight of what’s happening to you during the crisis. It’s important for you to take care of you. Be focused on self-care so that you are there for your team and for the organization in the long haul. You won’t be able to help anybody if you run yourself down at this time.
Remind your team that you are leading the organization now in such a way as to secure the future of your organization. By focusing on the needs of all your stakeholders, you will be more prepared to shepherd your organization through the crisis.
As you provide stability for your organization, be aware that fear will take its toll not only on your team, but it can take its toll on you too. You have to combat the fear in your own life before you can help your team combat their fear. But remember that courage is merely acting in spite of fear. So be courageous as you provide stability in this crisis, so that your team will have the courage to move forward too.
Robert McFarland is the author of the bestsellers, Dear Boss: What Your Employees Wish You Knew and Dear Employee: What Your Boss Wishes You Knew. Robert is also President of Transformational Impact LLC, a leadership development consultancy helping companies make ideals actionable.
How are you responding to the current crisis? I counsel leaders how to lead themselves so they can lead their teams. I would be glad to help you navigate this crisis.