For most of us, we are living in one of the most unique times of our lives. The past 30 days have felt more like a couple of months as we strive to incorporate terms like “social distancing” and “flattening the curve” into lives where kids are being homeschooled and parents are working from home. The fear from a global health pandemic combined with the uncertainty that results from an economic crisis is having a significant effect on individuals, families, and organizations of all sizes. I believe that being able to weather the current environment and successfully emerge on the other side requires dynamic leadership. Below are 7 tips for staying productive during a pandemic:
- Be Honest and Open. People don’t know what the future holds for their families or their careers. Leaders need to be up-front with their organization and embrace the uncertainty. It is important for leaders to admit that these are challenging times and that while you don’t know exactly how things will shake out, you have a plan to move forward and that action is being taken to position the organization for success. Be positive and optimistic, but don’t sugarcoat the fact that working through this will be tough.
- Be Present. When things get tough, leaders can’t go into hiding. This is the time when those in your organization will be looking to you for direction, optimism, hope, and reassurance. Make sure your people see that you are on the front lines leading the charge. This includes being accessible and letting those who follow you express emotions, share ideas, and convey concerns.
- Stay Connected. This is especially true in the current work-from-home environment. Now, more than ever, we have the tools to collaborate remotely using virtual meeting platforms and cloud-based file storage. Staying connected keeps people accountable to their roles and responsibilities and helps ensure that productivity continues to move forward. During times of crisis, staying connected becomes increasingly important for investors and customers. Leaders need to be sure not to go radio silent, as investors and customers assume the worst in the absence of updates and communication. While it seems counterintuitive, a crisis actually presents an opportunity for organizations to build increasedtrust with investors and customers. Consistent communications that provide updates will breed confidence and likely result in the organization emerging from the crisis with a stronger reputation than it had prior.
- Provide Opportunities for People to Step Up. New leaders, who may not have otherwise gotten the opportunity, emerge in times of need. As an example, during the current COVID-19 pandemic, PEG has been acutely focused on reaching out to lenders in order to request concessions and figuring out the CARES Act (federal stimulus program). These specific responsibilities have been assigned to individuals or small teams with the charge to own it. These individuals and teams have risen to the occasion and provided a significant amount of value in a short period of time.
- Be Decisive. During times of crisis, things are changing very rapidly, and decisions often have to be made in real time. Leaders need to stay well-informed and ready to make difficult choices, as delays in making decisions can result in missed opportunities or negative affects to the organization. In situations of crisis, doing nothing is generally not the right answer. Leaders need to be ready to quickly evaluate information and make definitive decisions, often at a moment’s notice.
- Create Normalcy. Everyone’s world has been turned upside down, both at home and at work. Leaders endeavor to incorporate some degree of the normal routine. At work, this may include holding regularly scheduled meetings or acknowledging major milestones/events in people’s lives (i.e. birthdays, work anniversaries, etc.). At home, families may try to hold family dinner at their normal time and avoid staying up late every night and sleeping in every morning. People are creatures of habit and typically thrive when adhering to some level of a routine.
- Stay Strong. Leaders will likely have to make difficult decisions (i.e. layoffs, pay cuts, halting projects, etc.) which will result in varying levels of emotion within an organization. This emotion, combined with the increased stress of working through a crisis, will likely result in an environment with increased anxiety from everyone. Leaders need to maintain an outward presence of strength and confidence, even though he or she may be worried and scared on the inside.
No one would ever choose to go through challenging times; however, when faced with these situations, dynamic leaders should recognize them as an opportunity for growth. By using these best practices to mitigate uncertainty, unify employees, and ultimately build investor confidence, industry leaders like PEG will undoubtedly come out ahead.