How to Handle the (Temporary) New Normal
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, organization leaders undoubtedly have their hands full. But there’s no question that these very people must remain front and center as much as possible, demonstrating competency, visibility and engagement in the midst of crisis. It’s easier said than done, which is why at MAP Consulting, we coach our clients on how to focus on what’s vital in leadership and management, in times of greater certainty and, as we’re experiencing today, in times of uncertainty. In the spirit of helping all leaders, we’re sharing some of what we know to be true, based on our consulting expertise that’s been ongoing since 1960. Since that time, we’ve helped tens of thousands of leaders and clients manage serious challenges and come out stronger. And this is true in spite of major external emergencies, everything from experiencing natural disasters to terrorist attacks, recessions and more.
1. Be a first-rate communicator. In verbal and nonverbal communications, state the purpose up front. Never assume people just know what you mean—choose the right words and use succinct messaging, speaking on their level, not using a bunch of legal jargon or high-level words. Also, acknowledge and connect around how people may be feeling to demonstrate both your humanity and understanding.
Be sensitive in your communication style, informing people around what’s positive and productive about the situation. Be real and truthful, but avoid doom and gloom, exaggeration and inciting fear. And make sure you’re using the right medium for the communication and perhaps even multiple communication channels…for example, announcing something via a Skype meeting to your management team, then following up with a clearly written email, reminder texts, website and intranet updates, etc. For customers/clients, consider multiple modes of communication if helpful, too. People like to receive information in different ways—so cover the gamut.
2. Re-evaluate your strategy and stick to it. We realize that your business (and life!) is changing daily, even hourly. It’s easy to go down the reactive rabbit hole….spending all your time putting out fires all day, every day. Re-evaluate your current strategy to align with the recent upheaval, and execute against your newly-formed strategy. Not only does this allow business to continue to move forward in this turbulent time, but it will also improve your psyche as a leader by forcing you to look forward toward recovery.
3. Stay the course. It’s going to be tempting to veer off your path and plans during a time of crisis. And you may need to make changes, adjusting “your sails” or your speed as circumstances shift quickly and various challenges surface. But don’t let rough waters or sudden strong winds create doubt about your actual direction. Hopefully, you’ve got an emergency contingency plan—use that. And if you don’t have one, concentrate on what you can control, staying as close to your course as possible. Focus on vital goals, managing resistance that could derail success and finding ways to delegate to others what you can so you don’t burn out in the midst of the storm.