Running a business in a coronavirus world; keep on keepin’ on
4th May 2020
Life in Covid-19 world can make you feel a little like swimming in the sea and against the tide. It’s hard to keep track of exactly where you’re going, and it’s bloody hard just to stay floating. This is even more difficult when you are managing a team or running a company through the chaos. It’s a fine balance between managing your own levels of stress whilst helping others to do the same and, without flinching, maintain productivity and morale.
I’m sorry to say: there is no handbook out there to help you. It’s a human reaction in a crisis to withdraw. Going radio silent on your team will turn your office into a very unsettled place — the opposite of what you’ve been trying to achieve. Agreed, you can’t share every detail of what’s happening, but providing your team with some up-to-date information on a regular basis and in an honest way can reduce speculation and fear. You can allow people to ask questions and share their concerns with you. If things are changing quickly, the one thing that can help maintain a sense of control is information. We have been welfare-checking our team daily, and holding a full team video conference weekly to share updates and hear concerns.
As a leader and the person closest to the key information, you walk the line between sharing too much and not enough. You can be honest and tell your team: “I don’t know that right now.” Hopefully they will appreciate that honesty much more than you stretching the truth or avoiding the conversation all together As I said, we are all human and in times like this it’s bound to affect your usual routine and behaviour.
However, maintaining a consistent, calm demeanour cannot be underestimated. Would you trust the pilot of a plane who sounded freaked out when he made announcements to the cabin? Guess what? I bet you now have a whole new set of responsibilities on your plate and your stress levels will have multiplied. Do everything you can to stay productive and organised during this time — not only to stay afloat, but to help your team see the situation is under control. The calmer you are, the calmer they are – and remember that panic spreads faster than Covid-19. No-one could have predicted this situation three months ago but it’s here; deal with it. Now is the time to show your worth to your team.
Looking back, no matter how much you may want to pull your hair out now, if you get through it then it will have been an incredible way to learn. Covid-19 will give you the tools needed to resolve intense situations, but above all it will show your team you can lead them when they needed you the most.