Leadership in a time of crisis and uncertainty: How to motivate your employees

What would you like to call yourself? A manager or a leader? What do you think is your best scenario in a time of crisis? 

For some people the answer is obvious but for some others is a new challenge. In a time of crisis, business executives or managers find themselves in a position where they need to respond to a complex and difficult situation. And it’s not easy to do so.


Leadership NOT Management

What business executives or managers must have in mind is that by hyper-focusing on managing the present, they might lose focus on the long-term vision. And a business without a clear vision can’t succeed or stand out! This doesn’t mean that you underestimate the importance of the current situation. On the contrary, you take all the necessary steps to adapt to the new environment and help your business confront the crisis. But at the same time, you need to be able to determine what might come next and what opportunities might be there. A time of crisis might be your opportunity to delegate work to your people, something that will allow you to step back and see the bigger picture. 

Besides, a leader must be able to resist the temptation of taking over a situation and support his people to make the right decisions.


Focus on what matters most in your business

During a time of crisis, you need to concentrate on what’s more important in your organization. Undoubtedly, in such times many things are going on but you need to figure out what has the most value in your organization. Is it the completion of an important project? Is it a new product you want to launch in the market? Or is it the high-level service you want to offer to your customers? When you are facing an unprecedented situation, you might need to change course or adjust your goals to find a balance between ‘’business as usual’’ and ‘’business unusual’’. 

But you must never forget the human factor! 


Communicate effectively with your employees

Your employees are also affected by the crisis thus, they might be overwhelmed by uncertainty and worry. Whatever your top priorities are, make sure that you communicate them effectively to your employees. For example, if you have new goals (it happens in time of crisis!) or if you have paused OKRs (objectives and key results) or other initiatives that can wait for later, let them know. This will help your employees to adjust to the new conditions and put their effort into accomplishing the right goals. 

Sometimes, business executives or managers forget to observe and listen. You shouldn’t! It’s not enough to speak and say what you have to say, you must also be able to observe what’s happening in your organization on a human level and actively listen to your employees. You might be surprised by how many things you might learn about your organization if you spend some time observing and listening. And even better, if you evaluate your findings, you will be able to take appropriate actions within your organization.


Motivate your employees

What’s coming next? Motivation! In times of crisis, change is part of the game. In most cases though, people are resistant to change and this makes things difficult for an organization. What you need to do is to explain ‘’Why’’ you’ll proceed with changes or adjustments. For you, the answer might be self-evident but not for your people. Give them facts and information that will convince and motivate them to be part of the change. Otherwise, your employees will be reluctant to follow your instructions or if they do (because they have to) you won’t get the expected results. And while explaining the ‘’Why’’, ask your employees to express their thoughts or ideas. Make them feel that you value their opinion and that you are not You against them but You by their side.


Concluding, we would like to use the words of Simon Sinek: ‘’Only when the WHY is clear and people believe what you believe can a true loyal relationship develop.’’