COVID has tested even the most well-prepared companies’ contingency plans. With any transition, there is an adjustment period. Right now we’re making all types of adjustments to our personal lives and the way we conduct business - all at once. As you navigate this new, seemingly never-ending, unchartered territory there are a few things that can help you effectively lead your team and keep your overwhelm at bay.
Strong leadership is crucial, now more than ever. Same with employee engagement. You know that. However, you probably didn’t expect your personal, financial, emotional, and professional life to be up-ended all at the same time while being called to lead in a manner you haven’t prepared for.
You may be facing staffing challenges - deciding whether to cut staff to save margins or reduce hours across the board to save talent. These are hard decisions that often don’t have one right or wrong answer.
It’s completely understandable if you are feeling nervous or vulnerable about your own position within the company or how this might affect your next step up the corporate ladder or the next expansion for your own business. Right now it feels as if nothing is guaranteed. How are you supposed to lead others and ensure you're doing all you can for employee engagement when you’re uncertain about where you yourself stand? The thing to remember is - you can only control your own actions. However unfair or uneasy may make you feel.
What you can do is continue to lead your team with clarity and drive. If you are feeling uneasy, you can only assume some of your team is as well. Acknowledging that things are different and changes need to be made is critical. This isn’t the time to pretend it’s business as usual, because it isn’t. Many teams are working remotely, trying to navigate working from home, perhaps with children, and to expect things to carry on as they did before is a recipe for disaster, tone-deaf, and frankly isn’t going to be tolerated. Adjust your expectations for yourself and your employees and be prepared to make changes on the fly.
It may be true that there are some large hurdles in front of your business right now. Problems that seem extremely overwhelming to solve in the best interest of your clients and employees. To battle overwhelm break your goals down into small, bite-sized chunks that will give you motivation as you complete them. Choose a few very easy tasks to complete first and go from there. Sometimes getting a few small wins and some momentum is all you need to get the ball rolling.
Take time to refuel. Now more than ever self-care is essential. Be sure to get enough rest, enough downtime, eat well. It is vital you take care of your physical and mental health daily. This will help you to have enough energy and positivity to lead by example for your team.
While it’s important to be a strong leader, it’s also important that you’re honest with your team. As you know, employee engagement needs to be authentic. Don’t fake answers you are unsure of or make promises you may be unable to hold up.
Know that this situation won’t last forever. While the business may not go back to exactly how it was before, everything is adaptable. Stay focused, keep your team on task, and know that flexibility is a strength. Be willing to roll with the punches. This is an entirely new world we’re dealing with, no one is expecting people to have all the answers. The best we can do is assess the current situation and make a plan. If things change, don’t get discouraged. Reassess and move on. Dwelling on a situation that is no longer relevant isn’t going to help anyone.
Times like this call for a rise in leadership. Lean into your strengths. In testing times, greatness can emerge if it’s nourished well. Don’t shy away from the challenge and remember to refuel.
Michele Bailey is president and CEO of Blazing Agency and My Big Idea®. These two lines of business work congruently to support her clients’ success.