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What employees expect from leaders during a crisis situation

Posted by Shivali Anand

October 11, 2021    |     3-minute read (570 words)

"Crisis is not a nine-to-five job ... Crisis happens when you least expect it," Judy A. Smith, CEO of crisis management firm Smith & Company, once said. Even the most capable leaders may be put to the test in a crisis such as the present coronavirus pandemic, which puts executives’ decision-making and strategic thinking capabilities to the test.

Leaders are trained to handle a variety of personnel and business events. Yet in the event of a business crisis, the standard approach for dealing with sudden changes may be insufficient. While a company may have a crisis management strategy in place, leaders may not have had the chance to actually apply it to the test.

To keep your employees involved in their jobs during times of fear and uncertainty, you must act with both fortitude and empathy. Here are five qualities that your colleagues want to see in you amid a crisis.

  1. Take initiative
Show self-assurance by taking command of the situation and by making informed judgments based on facts rather than emotion. To properly navigate a crisis, you must wear several hats. Prepare yourself, remain calm and involved, but also project confidence and decisiveness.

  1. Communication is key
Maintain continual contact with your audiences during a crisis, meaning internally with your workers, partners and board members and externally with investors, consumers and the media.

Never presume that others are aware of the decisions being made and why they are being made. Instead, disseminate information as soon as it becomes available, both during the crisis and after it has passed. Confidence is built through sharing facts.

It's important to remember that communication is a two-way street. You should listen to your employees' problems, anxieties, frustrations and other emotions, just as you should share information with them regularly. Employees wish to be seen and heard, and you must ensure this happens by keeping the lines of communication open.

  1. Be straightforward, honest and empathetic
Exemplary leaders tell the truth and explain things using facts and numbers. They also have no qualms about admitting when they don't know the answer to a question. Because your workers are devoting their time and efforts to achieving your company's objectives, communicating the current state of your plans and progress enables them to see their role more clearly. Staff members may lose trust in your leadership skills if you aren't clear about where the firm is at any given time, so communicate the information you have as regularly as feasible.

  1. Maintain a positive attitude
Staying optimistic and not allowing negativity to come in the way of doing the right thing is an important quality to possess, as simplistic as that may sound. Even if the situation appears out of control, you must maintain your composure until the worst of the crisis has passed. This is important because once insecurity enters people's mindsets, it may rapidly turn into self-doubt, which can be devastating.

  1. Make sure that your plans are clear
The best defense, as the adage goes, is a good offense. If crises have taught businesses anything, it is that they must always have crisis response teams on hand. This can include natural disasters, like hurricanes and tornadoes, as well as pandemics and even employee diseases. Now is the moment to assemble a crisis response team if you don't already have one. Even when there isn't a crisis, meet regularly to ensure that the team is stable and ready for anything.

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