3 Tips for Leading Your Company Forward Through the COVID-19 Crisis

/ Christine Andrukonis

Last week in the US, leaders of organizations of all sizes began to create a “new normal,” as they made unprecedented, company-wide shifts overnight in response to the COVID-19 threat.

We’ve been impressed at how our clients from across a range of industries have found a way to:

  • make quick, potentially life-saving policy decisions,
  • rapidly adapt their technology/infrastructure, and
  • disseminate critical information to their teams in a consistent and timely way.

Although there’s still much work to be done, many organizations have successfully begun to address this crisis by mitigating immediate risks and challenges. However, leaders and employees are still adjusting to their ‘new normal,’ which requires even more speed and agility than we’ve become accustomed to in 2020. The reality of this indefinite period of extreme change is just starting to set in – at work and at home.

Now that leaders have gotten through the initial responses addressing basic operations, health and safety concerns, they must turn their attention to what the pandemic might mean for their companies, and for each of us, in the short and long term.

Here are three things that companies absolutely must do immediately to help their people find their footing:

1. Be clear about your ‘new normal’ – what COVID-19 means for your organization. Yes there’s uncertainty and ambiguity, and yes, your executive team is rightfully focused on some immediate urgent priorities, but you must begin to tell your COVID-19 story. You must quickly clarify what COVID-19 may mean for your company and industry, the challenges and opportunities it presents, your plan of action, how you’re supporting people in this difficult time, and what they can expect moving forward.

2. Establish a consistent interactive dialogue – Your executive team, department heads and direct supervisors must all establish a cadence of 2-way communications with their people now (virtual for now!). This is the only way to ensure your people can stay clear and focused during this time of uncertainty, and frankly it’s a best practice ongoing:

  • Company wide meetings – monthly or quarterly
  • Department staff meetings – bi-weekly or monthly
  • Manager-employee 1-1’s – weekly or bi-weekly
  • Other interaction opportunities – to be determined, by company

3. Equip your people to communicate, collaborate and connect – Leaders and employees are facing significant VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) and they need support to be successful. You must equip them with practical, hands-on coaching, tips and tools to help them:

  • Manage the stress and uncertainty they are facing on the job and at home
  • Maintain thoughtfulness and composure in their actions
  • Empathize with others as they address immediate challenges
  • Inspire people to make progress with a tangible path forward