Effectively leading during uncertain times is a daunting task. Employees are scared and anxious. They're either working remotely amidst interruptions or putting themselves in harm's way on the frontline.
They might be adjusting to new strategic priorities, new processes and procedures, new managers and teammates, and new KPIs.
In spite of all this change and uncertainty, companies need to find ways to motivate and engage their employees -- while also ensuring their health and welfare. It's a tall order, but it is possible. A well-known Harvard Business Review study found that nine percent of companies actually flourished after a slowdown.
What do successful companies do that you can learn from? They adapt to changing circumstances. According to The Predictive Index's Surviving an Economic Downturn With Talent Optimization guide, aside from taking health precautions, the best way to take care of your people is to ensure your company is resilient.
"As you make drastic changes to position yourself for stability and eventual growth, have the confidence to tackle your challenges head-on," said Mike Zani, CEO of The Predictive Index. "Amidst all the uncertainty, at least I can say one thing's for sure: Those who come out of this downturn will come out stronger and better than ever before."
Here are four things to look for in resilient managers tackling major decisions daily:
1. Maintain frequent, transparent communication with employees
In times of crisis, the more you can communicate the why behind the changes you're making with as much transparency as possible, the more you can build trust. Having trust in the company's senior leaders is a primary driver of employee engagement.
Senior management should set up weekly all-company meetings where employees can get their questions answered. Additionally, managers should be checking in with their direct reports daily.
2. Dial-up the self-awareness and keep your behaviors in check
Under pressure, people's natural behaviors are amplifed. For example, if a leader is naturally dominant, they might become even more so. And if they're not letting others get a word in or share ideas during meetings, this can be a big problem.
Conversely, if a leader is highly detail-oriented, they could get bogged down in the details. The ability to make decisions and pivot rapidly is critical to crisis survival, so this tendency must be kept in check. That's why self-awareness and stretching beyond one's comfort zone is key.
3. Cultivate a psychologically safe environment
The manager role becomes more important than ever during times of uncertainty as they will be the first ones to spot any people issues.
Managers that have the right behavioral insights about each direct report allow conversations to be tailored and cultivate a psychologically safe environment. Those who take the time to understand their direct reports' needs and tendencies will find the resulting dialogue to be open, honest and productive.
"Make sure you take the time to connect with your direct-reports based on their unique behavioral drivers," said Zani. "For example, extraverts may be struggling with less face-to-face interactions so managers should take care to increase their check-ins."?
4. Measure and act on employee engagement data
To maintain productivity and workplace culture, take time to re-evaluate the employee experience. Noticeable changes in employee engagement may require the leadership team to allocate their attention towards culture, which plays a critical role in optimizing engagement.
Consider surveying your workforce to get the most pertinent data around where roles may have changed, which teams are feeling pressure, and where culture might be fraying. Once armed with that information, you can target the areas of the organization where paralysis or dysfunction are potentially highest.?
"Developing resilient leaders and employees will be the key to holding your business strategy together, even when times are tough," said Zani. During a crisis, the strength of even the most tenured company will be tested. Leaders that maintain transparent communication with their workforce and look inward to nurture their employees will find their businesses stand strong during periods of adversity.