The mark of a great leader isn’t how they lead their team when things are good, but rather how they guide their team when times are tough. Every business will have to weather a rough patch at some point. This means managers will be faced with a challenging task: making tough decisions while also paying attention to team morale. When companies are faced with trials, employees often find themselves juggling personal demands while also trying to keep up with the stress of their work. It is during these uncertain times that employees look to their manager for support and strong leadership. While it is no easy task, here are some helpful tips for how managers can guide their teams and keep them motivated through rough times.
1. Communicate Transparently
During times of crisis, communication is vital. A manager’s instincts may be to shield their employees from any bad news but this can be a critical move. It is much more important to be open, honest, and transparent about what is really going on. Employees deserve to know the truth and they should hear it from their manager. The news is going to get out eventually so it’s best for managers to be up front and honest with their team. When employees receive accurate information from their manager, especially in challenging situations, it will build their trust in their leader.
2. Remain Positive
If employees see their manager panicking, they’ll think it’s time to panic as well. On the flip side, if they see their manager showing strength and hope, they will feel more confident in their manager’s ability to make the right decisions for them. Rather than solely focusing on the negatives, it’s important to maintain a positive attitude during trying times. Managers should express a commitment to developing a solution to the problem so that employees can have “real” hope that things will be ok.
3. Show Empathy
Leaders who demonstrate empathy tend to foster greater engagement and commitment from their team members. There is no better time to be empathetic than when things are difficult. Listen to your employees and hear their concerns. Validate their feelings and then help them re-prioritize to stay focused on long-term goals. Share any past experiences that might help your team navigate the current situation and emphasize the importance of resilience. No matter how you do it, empathy is critical to supporting people through tough times.
4. Check In with Your Team Regularly
During this period of uncertainty, employees may feel isolated, afraid, or extremely stressed. Make every effort to check in with your team members on a regular basis to evaluate their mental health, acknowledge concerns, and provide reassurance. This can be an informal check-in such as an impromptu meeting or even a virtual meeting. The point is simply to connect with your team and remind them of your support.
5. Encourage Flexibility
Crisis rarely resolves itself quickly but leaders who demonstrate a willingness to be flexible and chart a new course of action will likely make it through to see the other side. Teach your employees that sometimes they have to be flexible and make the best of the situation in order to push forward. At the same time, remember that each team member may have their own approach to dealing with the situation so support them in finding a solution that allows them to operate at their best.