Leading your team during rough times is not easy. Sales and revenue are falling short. Your company is facing the prospect of downsizing. Your best employee suddenly quits. No matter the circumstances, your team’s morale is at an all-time low, and it’s your job as their manager to lift their spirits and get them back on track.
This is no easy task. It can be hard to see the positive when everything seems to be falling apart. But every company goes through rough patches and growing pains, and it’s during these times that a team most needs a strong leader to help them weather the storm.
Communicate transparently about the situation
During times of crisis, communication – whether good or bad – plays a huge role in how a group reacts and moves forward. Your instinct might be to shield employees from what’s going on and not keep them informed. On the other end of the spectrum, making strong misleading statements that everything is great is just as harmful. Therefore, it’s critical to be as open, honest and transparent as you can be.
Communicate what is happening. Employees need to know, and they should hear it from the most senior leader. News is going to get out, so it’s better for leadership to consult with HR, the board, legal and/or PR as early in the process as possible to create a strong public statement.
As you’re communicating, try to exude confidence and a positive outlook on the situation. Never show your staff that you are panicking. Employees will feel confident if they see their leader showing strength. Show your team that you have the ability to solve problems.
Find the lessons to be learned
In the process of analyzing and evaluating mistakes, it’s important not to place blame and create animosity among your team, said Branch. You should also be open to thoughts and solutions from employees.
Never point fingers at any staff members; working as a team is key to getting through tough times. Always be open to new ideas and strategies from any staff member. You never know where the next big idea will come from. Read Leadership Tips for SME’s.
Share your vision for the future
Being clear and communicative about how the team and company plan to move forward will help part the storm clouds for your employees.
As a team leader, you need to know where you are going before you can get there. Great business leaders know how to paint a vivid picture of the future. Fueled by their passion to achieve their vision, they make it crystal clear what employees can do to get involved and emphasize how crucial each person’s role is.
For employees to truly hear and remember the message, they need to be exposed to it several times. Encourage your team by simply asking, “How are you doing, and how can I help?”
By asking how they can help, managers show their investment in that person’s success and their willingness to be a resource in some way to help them get there.
Once your team starts to bounce back, don’t lose the momentum you’ve created. Maintain your leadership strength when things are going well to make sure you’ve earned your team’s trust for the next low point.
It is important for leadership to be strong and solid all of the time. If leadership is not consistent with managers and staff during normal times, they will not receive the trust and hard work of their team when needed most.