What does it mean for managers to lead their teams in crisis mode? In times of corona, the situation is made more difficult by the fact that everything that is helpful in crises, the establishment of closeness, the personal questioning or addressing of conflicts is only possible online. An enormous challenge that you have to master – mostly on top to secure the business, if not the existence. Being worried when confronted with this enormous task is an understandable reaction.
To avoid this, an organization in crisis mode is at best extremely structured. Solid crisis teams meet for daily morning routines. Everybody keeps it short and does not get lost in sideshows. The focus on the customer is sharply defined. Correspondingly stable structures are now also important in team leadership. The team sticks to routines when everything around the company becomes unstable.
In a positive sense, you get into a flow with your team – you are carried from one task to the next. However, there is a great danger that the perspective narrows and you as a manager take a tunnel vision. Perhaps you will succeed in setting your radar wide open and now perceive more consciously what is going on in your team. In times of crisis, the call for strong leadership often becomes louder again. In view of the increasing loss of control, your team needs a personality to orientate itself, to provide security or at least to show a perspective. On the other hand, it is precisely now that solution patterns that lead to a stronger self-organisation of the team members prove their worth. You should weigh up for yourself how much balance is good for your team and enter into dialogue about it. As in every crisis, the same applies here: Invest much more time in communication and coordination than in normal operations.
Managers with a clear attitude are easier to deal with in a crisis. Even more than usual, it is necessary to show face – which should not be confused with control frenzy and micromanagement. Communicate regularly what you know and what you don’t know at this point in time. You will gain credibility in your team if you find your own language, put the situation into context and emphasize the meaning for your team. Do not gloss over or dramatize anything.
In any case, a crisis without end is not conceivable. Give your employees planning security by indicating a possible date. Communicate in time if this date is overturned. As a manager, despite all the short-term planning and step-by-step approach, remind them that there is a time after the crisis. A return to normality. Even if it is difficult to ask this question in view of the prevailing chaos: what can we learn from the current crisis for quiet times? How has our team structure changed, our cooperation? Which behaviors can we preserve for the time after the crisis?
You will emerge stronger from the crisis if you do not immediately abandon the newly developed solution patterns and leave employees in their newly won responsibility after Corona. Particularly in the case of heavy wave movements, it becomes apparent who, in calm waters, has firstly stabilised his team to such an extent that it does not tip over so quickly out of the boat, and secondly has also set up his team so flexibly that it can develop new strategies and solutions in the shortest possible time and everyone can temporarily take on a new role.