“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
― Charles Dickens. The opening lines of ‘A Tale of Two Cities’
We will call our current situation ‘testing times’. A two-word phrase that conveys the ultimate evaluation of self in a crisis. A time that many are calling – the ‘apocalypse’ i.e great destruction, change and the ultimate revelation. The COVID-19 crisis has revealed the massive gaps between rich and poor, the efficiency of our governments, our interconnection across the globe, the true advancement of our technology, the true scale of our humanity and true leadership. The kind of leadership that can save lives and livelihoods. The principles of leadership are universal and hold true for everyone in a position of guidance and authority- from business heads to heads of families. How do you stand to face this future and steer your team through this crisis while battling one on your own?
We’re sure we don’t need to tell you how to become a good leader. This post is merely a guide to help you manage your team, your customers, your family and yourself through this COVID crisis.
How to Become a Good Leader for Your Team during the COVID crisis:
If You Can Retain Your Employees/Can Pay Salaries:
Make a list of top priorities for your company:
- The safety of your team
- Responsibilities to your customers
- The financial and operational continuity of your business
Communicate this to your team.
- Be empathetic- Acknowledge the difficulties of the situation and understand how each person in your team is facing. Be sure to ask about their well-being and their families.
- Be open- Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable to your team. Admit that you are trying your best to deal with issues the company might be facing. Stick to the facts of the state of the crisis/the potential impact to your business, etc. Your team deserves the truth and will appreciate you for it.
- Check-in regularly- In these days of remote-working, check-in on your team through email, chat, audio/video calls as often as you can, if not daily. There are excellent collaboration tools available to help you continue working with your teams, remotely.
- Talk about your long-term goals- Take the stress off their minds (and yours) by discussing the long-term goals that you have set out for the business. Discuss how this might/might not change post the COVID crisis and ask for suggestions on how to tweak the plan.
- Be flexible with remote-working- If you are one of those companies that has never experimented with remote collaboration before, be sensitive to everyone as they navigate this new way of working. Consider the responsibilities some might have at home with children and old parents with no home care workers. Ask the team to tell you a schedule that works for them so that everyone is on the same page when you need to schedule meetings.
- Make time to hear your employees out: Schedule meetings with them to openly ask you questions. Be sure to encourage as many questions as possible.
If You Are Unable to Pay Salaries/Have to Let Employees Go-
Do something, if you can’t do everything:
If the financial outlook of your business looks bleak, consider taking a pay-cut first and communicate that to your team. If it is not enough, consider communicating to your team contingency plans for their salaries/benefits without terminating them. If you see no way out and you see salary cuts (or worse- suspension) as necessary, give your employees enough time to know, prepare their finances and start looking for jobs. Most importantly, be mindful of language used and ensure communication is done with compassion.
How to Be a Good Leader for Your Customers:
- Have upfront messaging- Keep updating your website and social media platforms with information on your business, how responsive you can/cannot continue to be to your customers, etc. Customers will visit your website and social media platforms to gauge the outlook of your business and to search for updates. Be sure to also sensitively continue your regular messaging and posts on social media.
- Address questions before they ask you– The same rules of openness should also apply to customers. Be open about your shift to remote working and that you are doing your best to ensure there they face no distress. Send out an email to your customers addressing any concerns they might have about the continuity of their business.
- Don’t sell, educate- This is not the time to pointedly sell to customers. Instead, do whatever you can to educate them with helpful topics, tips related to your products.
- Help- While you might feel flooded with COVID-related content, you could try to share content that is lighter and could distract them while also maintaining sensitivity to the situation.
- Give those key clients a call- Consider calling some of your clients to talk about how they’re doing and reassure them of your continued service.
TIP: Make use of this downtime (if your business is not under stress):
- Work on a list of things you never had the time to do for the business before such as new trainings for your employees, new marketing platforms to explore, creating unique content, etc
- Work on a future contingency plan for our post-COVID world eg- crisis management workflows and aligning budgets to this. You should also plan for future lockdowns and turmoil in case of a resurgence of this virus till a vaccine is found. Further, try and understand how your business model may change and how your customers’ buying habits may change.
- Refresh your business by broadening your product offering with new opportunities. Add related add-on/cross-sell services to your core offering such as productivity tools/kits such as G Suite (ResellerClub is running a special discount for Resellers during this period).
How to Be a Good Leader for Your Family and for Yourself:
These are tips to keep you healthy in your new office environment-
- Don’t let go of your routine. In fact, stick to it more than you normally would. You can’t deliver good leadership if you don’t take care of yourself.
- Admit the problems you’re going through with your family. They will be more understanding about times when you are down and can’t get out of that heavy feeling.
- At the same time, try your best to take care of your mental health–so as not to pass on or perpetuate the stress to your family at home
If you’re wondering why we think we can understand you, this blog comes to you with inputs from the events team at ResellerClub. We won’t tell you what you already know about what any industry (especially one that thrives on large gatherings of people) is facing in this crisis. Travel and events have taken one of the hardest hits. We have seen our work (with an unknownable end date) vanish in a few weeks. We first faced a terrible sense of dread for our future, the loss of a sense of purpose. Luckily, our management has been supportive and we are doing the best we can to move forward with online events. Knowing that our network and friends in related companies have not been so lucky has made us more grateful to the leadership we have received.
Good leadership counts for so much in these tough times. We urge you to do the best in your ability to help your team. Finally, like we do, we hope you keep reminding yourself that you are not alone in this fight. As our grandparents (and history) tells us, there have been worse times and we have come through with help from each other. At ResellerClub, our support teams and account managers are (as always) here to stand by our resellers and web pros if you need anything that we could help with in some way. Our leadership is to help you and your teams steer through this crisis.