All politics aside, we need leadership now more than ever. In the age of COVID-19, uncertainty is running rampant in the workplace. Our staff, our customers, and our other stakeholders (shareholders for some) deserve leadership from us. Thoughtful leadership will help smooth the rough patches and keep people working with confidence that someone is looking out for them.
Uncertainty can result in people panicking. About the future of their job, the stability of the economy overall, and about their role in the organization. Level with them. Let people know what you can and cannot do, and what you are doing, to stabilize things. Don’t tell them everything will be fine. It may not be. But let them know what actions you and the organization are taking to ensure as much of the future as you can. If everyone is working from home, explain that it’s the healthiest way to keep operations running. Bringing people into the office or customer site? Let them know what steps you are taking to ensure social distance and protect their health.
As for economic uncertainty, the same rules apply. Level with people at an appropriate level. Don’t pretend you have all the answers. You don’t. But do tell people what you’re doing to protect their economic future. Let them know if you’ve talked to key customers to ensure an open pipeline for new work. Getting a PPP loan? Tell the staff and let them know it’s to help ensure stability, not a sign the end is near.
While it may not be a good idea to let them know just how much sleep you’ve lost, it wouldn’t hurt to let them know you are worried, too. Be in it with them. A little empathy goes a long way toward reassuring staff that the boss has their back.