3 Reliable and Proven Strategies a Manager in a Crisis Must Know (Part 1 of 3)

Updated: Apr 21, 2020

Doing and Being

In today’s uncertain and turbulent environment, many of us are grappling with a roller coaster of emotions and an extraordinary level of stress.

The stressors can take many forms, from working from home (WFH) and adjusting to all the changes, e.g., caring for little ones without outside help, managing your children's schoolwork, to being quarantined with family 24X7 in a small space. Add to that the fear of contracting the virus; caring for ill family members; grieving family or friends impacted; dealing with personal health-related issues; feeling isolated or displaced.

I could list a dozen other types of stressors and complexities based on conversations with clients and people in my personal and professional networks.

It's likely that a combination of these stressful scenarios is plaguing you and your talent, employees, managers, and leaders at all levels of your organization.

In this article series, I lean on my thirty-year career and over twenty years of leadership experience in Financial Services and Technology to share and remind you of three valuable strategies.

My intention is to serve you to the best of my ability. And to help you to self-care, stay motivated, and get through this in the best way possible—we are going to get to the other side! What’s helping me cope is being compassionate with myself and where I am and taking constructive action while we deal with this global crisis.

The techniques I’m sharing will help you as a Manager, or someone in another leadership role, to improve the side effects of imminent stressors, and to care for and enhance the well-being of your most valuable asset, your people.

These time-tested strategies work as well now as they do during times of relative certainty in the socio-economic landscape. One could argue that for many, the “normal” work environment experiences significant internal and external changes, often with impactful and far-reaching repercussions to the organization and the livelihood of employees, e.g., M&As, restructuring, layoffs, etc.

So, regardless of the source of the turbulence, in the "new normal," practicing these time-tested tactics will help you engage with your talent, enhancing their overall experience, and helping them find meaning in their work. You will be supporting them to perform at their best and deliver results while enhancing your company's brand and your personal brand by gaining their loyalty.

As an employee, learning about what your Manager could be doing is insightful. As you learn these best practices, from a team member's perspective, you will also learn how to influence your team culture positively and how to keep up or improve your performance during times of change and in environments of high complexity.

Steer the Ship: Communicate Clearly

Across the spectrum of situations, poor Managers are ambiguous, don't have a precise measure for successful completion of projects, are unrealistic in their expectations, and are apathetic to obstacles that may cause delays.

Instead of inciting chaos, confusion, and at best mediocre results, I invite you to apply the concept of SMART goals when allocating work to team members. In other words, whenever possible, based on the nature of the deliverable, give them assignments and projects that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timebound.

The goal is to remove ambiguity and increase their level of certainty and competence, which takes me to the next point.

When assigning projects and deliverables, consider the team members’ talents and strengths.

According to a study reported on the Harvard Business Review, to get the best from your workforce, ensure employees are using their gifts to perform work tasks.