Leadership During Covid-19: Be the Best Decision Your Employees Ever Made!
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Leadership During Covid-19: Be the Best Decision Your Employees Ever Made!

Leadership During Covid-19: Be the Best Decision Your Employees Ever Made!

Your company’s employee experience is on center stage. How we treat the human beings in our organization during this pandemic will be what they remember forever. Every employee is at their most vulnerable state. They need to know they made the best decision when they chose to work for you and your company. How they are treated now will determine that answer. Employees want something to brag about. Let them brag about how amazing their company is and was during these crazy times. 

Control the narrative

Be the only one to tell your story. Employees are hearing misinformation at an alarming rate from all directions, feeding their fear and anxiety and allowing them to imagine the worst. Employer-to-employee communication is the most credible source of information during times like this. The 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer showed employees trust their employer over media, government, and other sources – by a significant margin. 

To allow people to get their minds around what is happening and what needs to be done, you must control the narrative. People are overwhelmed by information overload. They need a voice of reason to crystallize the direction and vision moving forward. Create a definable enemy to galvanize and rally your team against.

Leaders find the truth, get to the brutal facts, and separate that from myths, hype, and compromised information – which is exactly what your strategy moving forward will be based on. Take action. People want to know what to do, they need a plan. Create a plan immediately, but keep it flexible. Employees want clarity on everything and expect frequent updates. Communicate both your short-term and long-term strategy: How we will recover as a company and team? How will we be better off as a result? How will we return to business? How will we be responsive to workplace safety and be agile to changes in workplace policies to ensure that both team members and customers feel safe?

Business leaders must avoid seeming cold or impersonal, or appearing that their focus is strictly on the bottom line. These unprecedented times call for us to stretch beyond our normal comfort zones and be even more vulnerable than usual. Six months from now, you’ll look back and be glad you did.

Be exceedingly human 

Demonstrate your concern for your employees, their very real fears and anxieties – not only professionally and economically, but socially and personally. Even though you don’t have definitive answers to all their questions, don’t let that keep you from listening to them and empathizing with their fears. They want to know that they can relate to you and that they are not alone in their concerns.

Be persistent

Track how often every employee is being virtually connected with by a leader from the company. No one should go more than two weeks. This is not a time to hold back. Send people updates and regular communication, even if there is not a lot of new information and the message is largely personal. No one will look back at this time and say, “My manager was so annoying with all those encouraging check-ins with me.” When people are isolated, over-communication is more important than ever.

Have regular videoconference meetings that allow employees to not only talk about work, but to share their experiences dealing with this situation. Crises provide an opportunity for people to come to know one another better, and establish bonds that will endure long after the crisis is over. 

Show what victory looks like

Show your employees where your strategic plan will take them, and what it will look like when they arrive. People gravitate toward a vision of victory. People are motivated by a promise and a finish line. Teams need a compass and specifics to earn that victory. For example, “Let’s go make some history – stuff they will talk about for decades to come, that may end up being written about in books, redefining the way things are currently being done.”

If you are confident your business will survive this crisis, communicate that with your employees. Tell them you got this, that you have their back, and that you won’t let anything happen to them. 

Besides laying out our own transformational strategy, and to further cement my employees’ confidence that they are in the right company, I shared two more things with them: 

1) I asked all my companies to set a date at the end of the year to celebrate our comeback victory. I told them to make the reservations at any restaurant of their choice for our victory dinner. 

2) I told them what our brands are doing to help other companies and people during these times. When you help employees see the future vividly, and that you are focused on helping others, their fears go down and confidence in their own future rises. 

John DiJulius III, author of The Customer Service Revolution, is President and Chief Revolution Officer of The DiJulius Group, a customer service consulting firm that works with companies including Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, Ritz-Carlton, Nestle, PwC, Lexus, and many more. Contact him at 216-839-1430 or info@thedijuliusgroup.com.

Published: June 5th, 2020

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