7 Ways to Lead with Empathy during the Covid Crisis (4 Mins Read)
When a crisis hits a business, there are generally 2 kinds of responses. One is to respond with finding the scapegoats and working “hard” to solve the issue.However, the other and more sustainable way is to take collective responsibility and “solve” for the crisis which might not just mean increasing the number of work hours.
The Covid crisis has brought in significant challenges for businesses across the globe.But this is not a strict “business problem”. The challenge is far more deep rooted.Human lives, human emotions and a lot of psychological turmoil is at the heart of this crisis. Hence taking a pure “impersonal and business like approach” can only look to solve things optically in the short run.Whereas in the medium term future, it can spell doom for such companies.
Human behaviour is mostly based on emotions and there are scores of examples which tell you that good organizations have ways to touch the right emotions of it’s workforce. If there ever was a time to demonstrate to your people that you care about them beyond their productivity, now is that time.
Mistakes that leaders and organizations can make now in handling their teams which can result in a body blow.
- Deploying productivity trackers to snoop over team members- This can be hugely counter productive in this situation. Employees are going through a lot of personal turmoil and should be given space to manage their work. It might not be possible to clock regular hours in this crisis and some allowance should be made for that.
- Overdrive of Meetings and Reviews-While it is natural for leaders to get anxious about information but adding a barrage of meetings and reviews only gets the team to overwork and also lose focus of important tasks. It becomes all about satisfying the boss’ requirements.
- Giving tasks for the heck of it- As a leader it should be okay if your team has less work at times due to whatever reasons. Please don’t manufacture new tasks for them just because you want them to clock hours.
- Focusing on managing upwards- The challenge especially with middle managers in these situations is that they get focused more around managing their own perception rather than effectively leading the team and solving the business problems.These are the instances where one can separate the truly “inspiring” leaders from the “insecure” ones. As a team manager, this is your time to step up.If you do that effectively and consistently it will anyways improve your overall standing in the organization.
Things leaders should drive as management practices during these times :-
- Figure out ways to show you care for the “Human Being”- This is where your intent will matter, it doesn’t require a lot of money to be involved.You don’t have to send expensive gifts. Taking out a few minutes just to check on the well being of your team is all that it needs.
- Respect People’s Time- Start meetings on time, close them on time and don’t schedule stuff beyond work hours or on weekends.Stop sending a barrage of messages over Whastapp or Slack.
- Measure Outcomes not Inputs- Here is where you can be the change driver in how performance management can work in the future of workplace. Be the evangelist to measure your team’s performance basis outcomes and not just number of hours.We have already seen this changing immensely benefitted some of the top technology companies in the recent past.
- Pushback to Your Senior Leadership, if Required- This is where you would need to show some courage. At times you would need to stand your ground when it comes to driving a culture change. There might be some “control freak” leaders that you might be working with but now is the time to not suck up to such style of leadership. Doing that will sooner or later be detrimental for a large part of the organization and it can also impact your personal career too.
- Build a plan to have some team fun- Virtual coffee sessions where you don’t talk work at all is an easy one to do. Get families included, let the kid peep into the zoom call, let the pet come into the view.Make it a safe space, they are eventually in their houses and should be comfortable rather than uptight.
- Get Senior Leaders to also dedicate time and interact with the team- This goes a long long way in showing that leaders in the company care.
- Policy changes to suit the requirements- This is a slightly larger decision but being a middle manager you can share your views with the HR team to bring in some new policies to enable the workforce given the changes. E.g. some allowances to set up a home office, few additional re-imbursements for power bills. Wi-fi etc. Moving from a paper bills re-imbursement policy to a paperless one. Also have provisions for self declarative re-imbursements in the absence of bills/ receipts.
In summary, right now is the time to trust your team and to standby them.Your little gestures can touch the hearts of the “humans” who work with you. A human heart is of gold and it can turn your business into gold in many unimaginable ways. Keep nurturing the gold in the hearts of your teams.