We all have gone through a crisis before, but nothing like the coronavirus pandemic. This one differs in many ways from other crisis – it is a global crisis, with long-term and multifaceted repercussions. The pandemic has already disrupted financial markets, brought to a halt the movement of people and goods around the world, canceled sports seasons and restricted international flights. It is dominating both private discourse and public policy, and the virus still continues to spread with no solution in sight. The COVID-19 is definitely a unique type of crisis. So, how can we thrive as leaders and human beings during these times?
Managing uncertainty in COVID times
- Consider the situation from all perspectives
COVID-19 has affected all aspects of business operations. Leaders have the responsibility to help their teams understand how factors changed so that the company can respond more efficiently. Part of this responsibility is to review the company’s processes with self-criticism and exemption. Adapting to the new corporate management guidelines involves change of plans, modernization and often, digitalization of the means to access and share information.
- Communicate constantly
During COVID-19, communications should be frequent to keep a clear and effective channel in the entire organization. This allows for collaboration and flexibility as events unfold, making sure people have access to relevant and respectable information sources. A constant flow of communication in your organization helps establishing protocols on who communicates what and by what channels, and also with balancing the need for transparency with the prevention of litigation risks.
- Meet each group of stakeholders
In crisis, employees need to feel secure about their jobs. Customers want to be sure about the safety of goods and services. Suppliers want to know if they will be paid and the prospect of future orders. Investors want to follow financial trends and patterns closely. With the uncertainty and the situation rapidly changing, companies must monitor how stakeholder sentiment is evolving. Consider how the communication is going and adapt the message if needed. Among tactics and stakeholders, is it essential to communicate in a way that shows empathy and leadership.
- Act quickly, effectively and empathetically
In such a critical and complex situation as the COVID-19 pandemic, it is easy to feel challenged to determine the right path to follow.A crisis response plan may already be in place for a cyber breach, natural disaster or accident at work, so leaders may be more ready than they think. As the pandemic continues to occur, the most important thing is to keep the situation at the forefront and lead in a timely, thoughtful and empathetic manner. In the words of Betsy Atkins: “What people will remember is how you behave in a crisis”.
By Patricia Sobue