It is so important to confront your own fears, anxieties and frustrations. When we are thrust into a crisis situation, it’s only natural for that to cause inner strife. When you start by working through your own struggles, you can get yourself to a place where you’re able to respond – rather than react – to the people and situations around you. You’re able to deal with what comes your way with a clear mind, adapt more smoothly to changing circumstances, seize opportunities for personal growth.
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How to Create New Levels of Engagement in a Time of Crisis
Coaching can help you and your teams cope with fear, anxiety and uncertainty and establish new habits that empower you to connect, engage, inspire and lead with courage and compassion.
Getting to this place requires 3 main areas of focus:
We have this incredible opportunity to help the people we lead with their own personal growth. But we can’t do that if we don’t embrace the full depth of true personal growth, and understand how to create safe spaces for people to take these critical steps.
Our need to connect… for community… for leadership…
Ask yourself these questions:
- What scares me right now?
- What angers me right now?
- How am I showing up for others right now?
Then ask yourself:
- What do I currently know as fact?
- What impact do I want to have?
- What do I know about others’ situations right now?
- How do I want to show up for myself and others?
Where we would once bump into each other in the hallways, at the water cooler, getting a cup of coffee… crisis situations often strip that away. That informal, but deeply impactful daily connection goes missing at a time when we need connection more than ever.
Here are a few ideas for creating connection:
- A daily call for team members to share personal struggles (work related or not – remember, everything is directly impacting everything else)
- A daily “get up a stretch together” video conference
- Fun challenges or theme weeks like pictures of your pets, embarrassing things your kids have done on conference calls, etc.
- Regular one-on-one calls with individual team members to check in and see how they’re doing (you might also want to ask if there’s anyone on the team they’re worried about)
- Acknowledge recent media updates or rumours right off the bat – if you know something’s going around, get on a group call and bring it out into the open – don’t let it fester
As the leader, you might have to set the example and be the first to get vulnerable. Share your fears, struggles and how you’re trying to deal with them. When you take the first step, you create a safe space for others.
Your outward mindset is so important during a crisis. Before you act, spend a moment to consider the impact and outcome intended. When connecting with your team, ask yourself:
- How can I help them feel more appreciated?
- Did I contribute to them feeling unappreciated?
- What tone am I setting for my team?
- Who am I not hearing from? (Time to reach out!)
How you show up tells others how they are allowed to show up. If you’re dropping the “work mode” mask and being human, it gives your team permission to do the same.
When emotions run high, it takes a lot of energy to mask them. Let your team be real. Let them drop that extra load. They’ll not only feel more appreciated, relaxed and engaged, they’ll also have more energy to put into both their work and home life.
Expectations around getting things done have to change if people are going to be successful. What each person is capable of will depend on their unique situation, as well as on how things continue to evolve as you move forward.
Here are some tips for setting reasonable expectations that empower, not overwhelm, your team:
- Ask people what they feel they can give
- Ask, “What can I do to make things better for you?”
- Reach out after only a few days to see how it’s working and modify expectations, if needed
- Start every day with the question, “Has anyone’s situation changed?”
- Pay attention to the unspoken – tone of voice, energy, body language over video, a change in email or IM responses, etc – ask about any changes one-on-one and without judgement
- Talk openly about your expectations of yourself and how/if they change
Now is the time to embrace flexibility, compassion and your own vulnerability.
Working together helps us connect. Since a crisis situation can stop us from stopping by each other’s desks, we need to be more intentional in getting people to collaborate.
Here are some ideas to try:
- Break people into small groups of 2 or 3 to solve a problem or brainstorm ideas
- Create a list of tasks that require 2 or more people and let people “sign up” for them
- Design virtual team building exercises
- Create projects with short deadlines – Deadlines push people to get to work, but when you don’t know what things will look like down the road, keep your deadlines as short as possible
What are you all working towards together, in the moment? That answer might change weekly or even daily, but it always matters because it’s what binds your work together and helps people understand their contribution within the big picture.
Here are a few tips to create this:
- Determine a mission statement for the team (it can be about your goals, something like “We’ll get through this together”, or something silly or based off an inside joke)
- Start each meeting saying your mission statement together (this will feel ridiculous, but it will also feel good)
- Talk often about your team’s role in the organization and what’s happening because of the team’s contribution
- Share what it means to you to be able to rely on the team at this time and encourage others to share how the team positively impacts them
- Talk about the future – Talk about how you see the team evolving post-crisis and discuss how the steps you’re taking now are helping set the stage for later success
The Crisis is Temporary – The Impact is Not
Crisis is a scary time, but it is also a temporary time. Not knowing when it will end is difficult, but it’s so important to remember that it will end.
However, how you choose to show up now will have enduring impacts beyond the crisis at hand. Don’t let your team fall apart. Actively create new pathways of engagement and connection and pay attention to the culture you’re creating. The result will be a whole new way of approaching leadership that will empower you and your teams to thrive in times of stress, and continue to take you all to greater heights when this difficult time ends.
Whether you need guidance to navigate and thrive through a current crisis, or want to prepare your organization, teams or leadership for any potential crisis down the road, please connect with me to discuss your needs.