Supporting Your Team During Challenging Times
There is no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 will go down in history, and everyone will have their own unique story to tell about how they survived quarantine. And while everyone is literally in this together, so to speak, some are waging this war with ease, and others who are filled with tremendous fear and anxiety. These polar opposite emotions and all the ones in between are an accurate representation that not everyone deals with stress the same way. As a leader, what should you do? Because whether it's a world pandemic, a recession, or loss and suffering for an individual, what your team goes through will not only affect you, it affects the business as a whole.
Sometimes the easiest thing to do during hard times is to do nothing and see how it pans out. However, a leader must always keep their teams engaged and motivated, showing that no matter what the circumstances are, there is a silver lining and a future that still needs to be nurtured in the present moment. The first thing that is fundamental in supporting someone is for them, and you, to know and understand that challenges and struggles can turn into the most incredible learning moments that make one stronger and more resilient. But for this triumph to come to fruition, one must take steps forward.
You cannot become stronger and resilient just by sitting idling waiting for the storm to pass. To put it in an analogy of sorts, if you knew a hurricane was coming, you would board your windows, get necessary supplies, and go through a checklist of things that need to be done before the impending storm. And when the storm is over, you have to go outside, assess the damage, and begin the work of cleanup. The same sort of processes must happen in times of hardships. Instead of sitting and suffering in stillness, create a list of what needs to happen to prepare, or what needs to happen to clean up the mess, while also having the mentality that there is a way out of the challenge; there are solutions to the problems and there is always a silver lining.
As the leader of your team, you must keep a focused and positive mindset, not letting outside forces dictate your purpose of keeping your teams engaged and motivated. Even if you feel like the world around you is doom and gloom, it would not be fair to cast that shadow upon your team, because it is your duty as a leader to raise them.
The following are a few tips as to how you can do this, regardless of how you feel. And if you feel anything other than motivated and in high spirits, then it is your responsibility to look and find things or people that can uplift you and fill up your cup; this way you have a full cup to fill up others.
Reach out and ask others how they are doing – We've become accustomed to seeing how people are doing through social media, however, when you reach out to someone it is much more personal and you will get the reality of their lives, not the life they portray on social media. This simple task of asking others how they are doing creates a feeling of comfort and care for the receiver. It tells the person that you care and that you are present in their lives.
Create a group chat with your team – while some people don't like the constant interruption of dozens of messages in a group chat, it's a great way to keep a large group engaged - doing fun things like sharing pictures of food, workouts, and even education. People like to feel like they are a part of something bigger, and having a safe place to connect is a great way to create a positive working culture.
Eat together – Food is universal and is the Great Connector for family, friends, strangers, and even the world that is obsessed with food videos! But eating together creates bonding time where you can get to know people on a deeper level. Whether it's a pizza party, a potluck, or a casual lunch, having these types of social gatherings around food (even on a video call) will create incredible bonds with your teams.
What is fundamentally important in supporting your teams during challenging times is to stay consistent with engagement. Keep yourself at the forefront of their minds with high levels of support. This doesn't mean that you're constantly bugging them with phone calls and text messages, it just means that you have to stay present in their lives. Don't let too much time go by where you don't speak to them, and when you do chat, let it be supportive and casual. While leadership tends to take place inside of the workplace, leadership is a hat that never really comes off. It becomes a part of you, a part of how you conduct your daily life, and it becomes a lifelong responsibility that must be taken care of. Note most importantly, take care of yourself first before taking care of others, and always take time to rejuvenate your spirit and fill up your cup.