Sticky solutions to your everyday business challenges
Question: I manage a team of 35 people in the construction industry in California. For the first two months of the Covid-19 crisis, we rallied. Everyone was given access to our system through secure laptops. We developed protocols to manage essential customer needs safely. Our team meetings shifted to an online platform to keep the lines of communication open. Last week, though, I sensed a decrease in the energy of my team. As we move into a phased re-opening, what can I do to make sure my team has the energy they need to pivot again without losing momentum?
Answer: You’re not alone. The decrease in energy that you’re sensing is a natural pattern of crisis management. In the first stage, leaders are hyper-focused on knocking out critical projects. Things move faster, priorities become crystal clear, and people unite to pull through the crisis together.
But, over time, the adrenaline-fueled pace of the initial urgency begins to wane. The reserve energy tank is depleted, and the second stage – regression – begins. People start slower, tire more easily, and have shorter emotional fuses. Regression is a natural outcome of war room fatigue and is an unavoidable consequence of crisis management.
Your challenge is to pull your team through this phase in a constructive way to lead them to the recovery stage to rebuild, reopen, and prepare for the future. You can do this by refocusing them on a rallying cry that will cut through the fog and help the focus on what’s next.
A good place to start is to re-engage them emotionally. Start talking about why your business is necessary to help the community repair. How is your company not a victim or a survivor, but an essential part of a vibrant community? This helps reorient the team toward the recovery phase. Change the question from, “How can we handle the crisis?” to, “How can we move out of the crisis?”