Leading Like a Boss requires the ability to Communicate Like a Boss. Now, more than ever, is the time for leaders to step up their communication skills and think carefully and thoughtfully as they talk about what is going on as we adjust to the new normal of COVID-19.
Business and work life as we know it is changing at warp-speed. Communicating effectively and constructively can be challenging in the best of times and becomes even more important in times like these when leaders are facing so many unknowns.
Here are 3 Success Factors to Communicate Like a Boss during crisis:
Everyone reacts to stress differently and you may not be experiencing the same circumstances as your team. In order to keep morale up, it’s critical that you put yourself in your team members shoes. For example, you may have team members who have to work from home while they are expected to suddenly homeschool their children because schools are closed. If you are not in the same position don’t, don’t minimize the extra stress that puts on those workers.
Saying things like ‘Just tell the kids not to disturb you when your office door is shut’ or ‘Tell them to watch a movie when you’re on a conference call’ isn’t helpful. Working parents are dealing not only with the stress of their jobs they are dealing with their kids’ stress too.
Lead Like a Boss pro tip: Check in with your team individually to ask how they’re doing. If they confess that they are struggling, try saying something like ‘That sounds really hard. How can I help?’
Everyone’s response will be different. Some employees will go with the flow and some will have a harder time dealing with this new reality. Please, please, please don’t hold it against the person who isn’t coping well right now. It will only result in decreased trust and motivation. You don’t know what they’re dealing with. Now is the time to give grace.
Everyone’s reality is different now. A month without pay may not affect you but it is certainly going to affect many members of your team. It’s great that the Federal government is considering financial assistance but let’s face it, $1000 a month is not going to make a dent in the budget of most Americans.
Don’t try to solicit sympathy from your team by telling them how hard this has been on you. They don’t care. By nature, most people are self-focused and they care about how the future will affect them. Keep your communication open and honest and focused on them.
Lead Like a Boss pro tip: Be honest with your team. Tell them what you know and tell them what you are doing about it in terms that matter to them. Don’t downplay the reality nor be an alarmist. If you think layoffs are eminent be honest about it so people have time to make adjustments. Don’t make any promises about the future, everything is changing day by day right now, but do let them know the options you’re considering. Keep the lines of communication open.
Set the Tone
In an effort to show solidarity, some leaders will share their own fears and negative feelings about the situation. This is not helpful. As the leader, your team is looking to you for comfort and hope. On the other hand, some leaders refuse to acknowledge anything negative and tell everyone to stay positive no matter what.
Glossing over the seriousness of the situation is just as bad as going off the deep end with them. It’s imperative to find the right balance.
Lead Like a Boss pro tip: Set the right tone by acknowledging that this is a difficult situation and that you have concerns too. Then tell them what constructive actions you are taking. Lead by example by acknowledging that this is a stressful time and set a positive tone by focusing on how best to move forward.
Leaders, as you navigate these unchartered territories, I encourage you to take this opportunity to Communicate Like a Boss which means thoughtfully and carefully and put the concerns of your team first.
What you do during times of crisis and how you communicate will make a tremendous impact on your reputation as a leader. So, fill up your Leadership SkillKit® with tools you can use so you can make a positive impact, get better results, and motivate your team to keep doing their best in these trying times.
Liz Uram is a nationally-recognized leadership expert who teaches managers and supervisors how to Lead Like a Boss… Without Being Bossy! ®