Tips for Leading Your Team Through Uncertainty

COVID-19 makes leading a team challenging. As a leader, your job is to keep the business moving – but your team’s physical and mental health should be your first priority.

Step One - Preparation

  • Get talking early, so any information that circulates from the get-go is clear and concise, not gossip or ‘fake news’.
  • Make a place and a time to talk – even if that is in an online forum – when no-one is tired, stressed or rushed.
  • Expect some difficult questions – and give your team your full time and attention.
  • Use a calm, reassuring tone of voice – if you can’t, take a moment to catch your breath and calm down before talking to staff.

Step Two - ‘Meeting’ with your teams

  • Start with an open question, asking your team what they know and how they’re feeling.
  • Acknowledge fears and concerns.
  • Offer facts and be honest when you don’t know the answer. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
  • Talk plainly about any risks and use simple, factual information from legitimate sources.
  • Encourage self-care and self-belief: keep positive, talk about preparations and responses.
  • Let your team know that they can talk more later.
  • Have some fun – discuss what might happen in place of hongi or handshakes.

Step Three - Follow up

  • If a member of your team concerns you, talk one-on-one with them.
  • Always be honest with your team.

Lead with the right stuff

  • Focus on the situation or issue – clear-headed talk is what is needed right now. Act on facts not emotion.
  • Maintain self-confidence – people need to feel safe and accepted and able to say what they think/feel.
  • Maintain constructive relationships – managing teams from a distance and still getting things done requires cooperation among all colleagues.
  • Focus on what can be done – this will give people a feeling of control. Eg. wash hands, stay home if sick, practice social distancing.
  • Lead by example – model dealing with uncertainty and stress. Show that it is okay to have these feelings.
  • Think beyond the moment – make plans based on the impact of decisions on your team. Well-considered and considerate plans will foster trust.