Crisis has three main stages: what leads up to it, what it takes to go through it, and then what it takes to come back from it.
Cause, process, recovery.
At this point in time, we are starting to grapple with the realities of recovery.
While the idea is to return to life and business as normal; the fact is, things are very different than they were before the crisis. They always are. Crises change people and societies – in good ways and otherwise.
Many who are going back to work this week are finding it feels very different than it did before. There are new cultural norms, new “rules” for social interaction, and new methodologies for doing what, before, was so familiar.
This is the stage of change. And change requires resiliency.
It is essentially like a rubber band. You stretch to hold something together; but on release, you must be able to return to your normal pace, with certain stabilizing influences in place. This resets your ability to flex within a more normal range.
An article in HBR addresses the issue well. They noted one study where 75% of those who responded said “the biggest drain on their resilience reserves was managing difficult people or office politics at work. That was followed closely by stress brought on by overwork and by having to withstand personal criticism.”
In this particular time in history, one might also add “adaptation to change” as a pull on those reserves.
How do you practice being resilient?
Respond to change; don’t react to it.
Response means you have given thought before taking action. Take time to consider the change and its implications before formulating a spoken response or action. Take time to consider the big picture before implementing changes.
Engage with others.
This is especially true in a post-COVID world. There is a “pulling back” that has occurred socially – for many, a retreat within the confines of self and home. And while that has helped to flatten the curve; it is not a good habit to be withdrawn from society permanently. Relationships are key to health and sustainability. Personal and business relationships are the platform for success.
Stabilize what you can.
There are many unfamiliarities in today’s world and workplace. But there is solace in routines or what some call rituals or habits. Continue to do those things that contribute to good health, good relationships, and good management of home and business. Make daily contributions to each area of life – physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, social, financial, and vocational. Continuing to grow at a steady pace in each area provides a buffer when one or more areas are hit by outside forces. The stronger you are, the more resilient you can be.
Resiliency is all about adjustment. Change is easier for some than others. But everyone needs to develop the ability to improvise in the face of change. If you can’t do some facet of the work you used to do, what can you do instead? If your business doesn’t look the same as it did before, how you can you improvise to make it even better? The ability to improvise is a necessary part of leadership.
Look for lessons.
This is a great time to reflect with your team on lessons learned from the crisis. Are there new ways you can make the workplace healthier for your workforce? Did they gain a greater sense of individual core values? And how does this affect company operations? How can you translate those lessons into your business continuity plan? Did you even have one before?
Did the company learn new ways of doing things that will help improve operations going forward? One of the values of crisis is that it forces focus on the essentials. And when you can focus with clarity, you can find ways to improve processes, policies, and personnel experience. This would be a great time to meet with your team and capture those ideas for improvement.
Take time to evaluate the good and the bad. Were you as prepared as you thought you were for the crisis? Did you maintain contact with your employees? Was your communication carried through the crisis? What areas surfaced as needing attention? Crisis will reveal these types of things to those who pay attention.
When a ship is in distress, the captain will take the helm in order to steady the ship and keep it on course. He or she will issue the order to “batten down the hatches” to prevent internal damage. This is the work of a leader in crisis. Take the helm and steer the ship smoothly through the storm. Protect the crew and ship from the outside forces that will try to overwhelm. Your crew will appreciate your steadiness in times of crisis.
Thank your people.
This particular crisis has revealed an interesting facet that is often taken for granted: people want to work. They want to be contributing members of teams and society. If you are fortunate enough to have a team, be sure to express your gratitude. Notice the load they carry in support of the company and their contribution to your success as the leader.
“Resilient people and companies face reality with staunchness, make meaning of hardship instead of crying out in despair, and improvise solutions from thin air. Others do not.” – Diane Coutu, “How Resilience Works”
For more resources on learning, working, and communicating in your strengths zone and through crisis, click here to learn about the Maxwell Method of Communications Impact Report.
As the CEO of Strength Leader Development, Deb Ingino is a highly sought-after international executive mentor, coach, trainer and speaker. Deb is well versed in global business operations and helps business leaders and their teams to discover and leverage their strengths, so they can create highly collaborative teams that deliver great results. With a refreshingly direct style, Deb helps leaders and their teams to deliver profitable results. Connect with Deb to learn more about her mentorship and coaching programs to equip you with advanced strategies to elevate your results.