“Crisis does not build character, it reveals it.”
This old adage might be truer now than ever. It’s hard to imagine what the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will truly be on businesses and the economy until it’s over (which may be months longer than we originally thought). Let’s not think about the future for right now. Let’s think about the present. With changes happening every day because of the virus and new regulations, you must reinvent yourself as a leader constantly. What might work one day may not work the next day. Failure to adapt to the changes could cause you and your business to fail.
First and foremost, you need to learn how to protect yourself and your employees. Most individuals who are able to already work from home. They’ve reached the point where they may be feeling a bit stir-crazy. Find ways to support them and to stay connected. Conduct regular video meetings with the whole team and make sure you or direct supervisors are available to troubleshoot any problems that may arise with staff members. Try to make your staff feel safe, and keep them in the loop on any important decisions regarding their future employment.
With things changing so quickly, you may need to rely on a day-to-day, rather than week-by-week game plan. You may have lost some clients, so you need to make a plan to compensate for lost revenue. Brainstorm ways that you can still offer products and services. Make a plan A, B, C, and so on. Apply for forgivable small business loans offered by the government to help pay wages. You’ll also need to address workflow, which may have changed as well. Rely on your team for help. Ask them how they’re feeling and encourage them to assist with the plans moving forward.
Communication is key. During this time, there is no form of overcommunication. Pay close attention to how you and your team members communicate. You may be stressed and anxious during this time, but you still need to maintain positivity. Be available to your employees, and make sure that you are reiterating your points. No one will be able to pop their head into your office any longer, so now is the time for clarity and repetition. Be prepared for employees to come to you about personal concerns at this time. It’s your job to be realistic, yet kind and comforting.
Perhaps most important of all is that you take care of yourself. Your team is relying on you, so make sure you are doing what you can to address your own stress levels.