Managing During a Crisis Thumbnail Image

Of the many things the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, one thing is for sure: each of us is living through history. We are witness to a 24/7 calamity that at least for now, seems to have no expiration date. Speculation abounds on how long it will last and what our “new normal” will look like. These stresses affect not only the workplace, but ripple home to employee’s families, friends, and community.

With this in mind, it’s important for managers to know that open and honest business communications which build trust were never more important. Crises like COVID-19 require managers to calmly lead with respectful compassion that can elevate staff and keep good work working.

With or without COVID-19, we know crises are a part of life and it is important that managers have the leadership skills to deal with tough situations. To help lead you through adversities, COVID and beyond, here’s five tips from our own Lewis leaders that will help.

“People notice how one acts during times of stress and chaos. Keeping calm and assuring team members we are in this together is extremely beneficial. Providing assurances where one can, is vital to establishing confidence & staying connected as a team.”

– Annie Melzer, Regional Director – Lewis Apartment Communities

When a team is tense and feeling insecure, this can quickly turn into decreased performance and negativity. Maintaining a confident attitude and calm demeanor will help promote stability. Make time to meet with your team–together and one-on-one. Face time, recognition and quick check-ins can go a long way when seas are rough.
“I learned quickly to rely upon collaboration, flexibility, change management and resilience. They’ve been key for us navigating the waters of an unexpected pandemic. It’s forged a new way of doing business with both internal and external customers for Lewis.”

– Doug Oyler, Senior Regional Director – Lewis Apartment Communities

Not many problems get solved in a silo. Collaboration with employees, other leaders and different departments is important. It fosters new ideas and different approaches to solving problems. So, get out of your rowboat and sail together. The agility of good teamwork is a key ingredient to managing any crisis
“Keep in regular touch with your team. Don’t let them hang out there by themselves.”

– Scott Crawford, VP Land Development Operations

It’s a simple concept, but consistent and open communication in the workplace is sometimes overlooked. It’s easy to assume everyone knows what you know. Right? Wrong. Good communication inspires confidence and trust and eliminates assumptions and perceptions.
“Plan and work continuously to prevent crises.”

– Chris Engquist, Vice President Chief Financial Officer

While no one could have completely prevented the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s not the case for most big problems. In fact, step one of crisis management is having a pre-crisis plan that identifies types of potential crises, their impacts on business and then develops a plan to meet each challenge. Remember, whether it’s a power outage or you’re out of coffee, preparation is key.
“The most important thing to remember when managing through a crisis is that everyone responds to difficult situations differently and we need to respect that. One size doesn’t fit all.”

– Michelle Esser, Vice President Human Resources

The COVID-19 pandemic is a global tragedy that has disrupted millions of lives. There is no one-size-fits-all to this crisis, or any crisis for that matter. Each employee will react and process adversity differently and as a leader you can be the lighthouse to help guide them.

Good management during a crisis–worldwide, companywide or just in your department–is important for business leaders and managers. It is during times of crisis and uncertainty, that employees will look to you to stay informed, feel secure, and remain focused. You may not wear a cape or receive a medal, but your team will respect you for your leadership and in return, have your back when you need them. Stay well everyone.