Before now, most workers in managerial roles have been preoccupied with driving innovations and increasing revenue and growth. The current COVID-19 crisis has, however, changed the roles and priorities of these managers.
Nowadays, the immediate challenges range from managing teams working remotely, ensuring business continuity, maintaining liquidity, and controlling costs. More managers now have to deal with supply chain issues, operational challenges, team shortages, and other unforeseen challenges by-effects of this current crisis.
Learning to lead through a crisis
Even with this drastic change in the scope of their roles, leaders still have to manage work from home (WFH) employees, navigate workplace health and safety concerns, while still supporting their families in these uncertain times.
Many managers will be tested in areas where they’re not fully experienced.
Crises like this cause sudden and uneasy transitions. For these managers, success will depend on extensive coaching and training to help them perfect certain key leadership and managerial skills. Here are a few areas and aspects of leadership that may need improvement;
Managers need a high level of emotional intelligence to avoid tricky situations or even turn these into opportunities. The problem is that crises may even negatively affect one’s emotional intelligence as a leader. Emotional intelligence is the ability to manage your emotions as well as others’ emotions without allowing these to get the better of you. This involves;
Emotional awareness: a state of self-consciousness and an awareness of one’s own feelings
Harnessing emotions to solve problems in applicable situations, and
Managing emotions, by putting your emotions in check, when necessary
Team managers now have to manage workers working remotely. Managers, alongside team members, may also have to deal with health and safety concerns in the workplace, for a crisis like the current COVID-19 pandemic. Besides these, they’ll still have to support their families as well. The entirety of these could be very stressful and can take an emotional toll on both employees and managers.
For leaders, emotional intelligence means being able to see things from the perspective of others. It means expressing empathy for team members and showing a decent understanding of the situation at hand. To perfect this skill, managers will need to become better listeners and show more empathy to employees.
Proper mental readiness
Managers have to be well-versed in traditional change management strategies.
They also have to be able to tackle changes with grace and agility. But more importantly, they have to be adequately prepared, especially, on a mental level. This is needed to be able to contain panic quickly as panic can lead to bad decision-making, paralysis by analysis, and reactivity. An understanding of this will also be needed to help devise ways to help employees stay motivated and engaged.
Good decision making and analytical skills
Team managers will often face information overload in times of crisis.
Worse still, the majority of this information will be inaccurate, speculative, as well as conflicting. Leaders will need proper analytical skills to make sense of this noise to make informed-decisions. Identifying what is true and what is not will also require decent organizational and decision-making skills.
Relationship building and communication skills
Effective communication is another crucial skill that managers need to master and effectively leverage as this will impact how well information is shared within the teams. Effective communication, as well as relationship building, is a building block for success.
For managers, this could include taking actions to improve your interpersonal skills, listening habits, mastering non-verbal communication. All of these skills are important for open and honest communication, as well as, building great working relationships.
These, as well as establishing support and amity will prove vital for successful team management during and after a crisis. For most managers, it’s no doubt a steep learning curve, but with proper coaching and training, success is easily attainable.