Whether it be your family or your team, you need to take a ‘leaders role’ in helping to reassure them that the world is inherently full of good, generous and compassionate people.
If you’re driving your business towards some stormy, challenging times where the future appears too cloudy and hazy to see, your team will be looking to you to lead them through it.
As a business owner and entrepreneur, you will experience leading your team in good times and bad. The bad times are when you prove your leadership skills.
In business it’s about re-confirming your vision and purpose, or your ‘WHY’ for doing what you do, finding out what their concerns are, acknowledging them and providing reassurance on how the business intends to proceed.
This can be done over a morning coffee break huddle or in an informal meeting if you have a large team.
The key to successfully delivering a positive impression is to have a checklist to follow:
- Prepare. In times of trouble and uncertainty, you’ve actually got to be preparing twice as hard [for a speech or presentation] as you might do when things are going well.”
- Be consistent. Before you chat with your team, sit down with your senior team members and agree on what you are going to say because the message has to be consistent.
- Communicate in person. Particularly in bad times, it is important to talk to people face to face. Don’t just issue an email.
- Show empathy. Don’t instruct team members not to worry. It provides no meaningful reassurance. Good leaders display empathy. They will acknowledge those worries and point out that they share them. That will often do a lot to reassure team members that ‘we are all in this together’.
- Be honest. Lay your cards on the table. Tell them what you do and don’t know. If there are variables or unknowns, you should acknowledge those. Chances are the team will know they are there anyway, but it’s good to hear them mentioned by you.
- Don’t make promises you can’t keep. It is important to acknowledge new information that comes to light in a developing situation, but don’t make promises you don’t know you’ll be able to keep. If a promise falls through, it really undermines you as a leader.
- Draw on past experience. Back up your statements with as much evidence as you can. Draw on past experience to highlight how you have previously dealt with similar challenges, or talk about the lessons you have learned from the way the situation has played out elsewhere, or for other businesses. Don’t just say what you think your team want to hear. You have to be honest with them, even if it’s something they don’t want to hear or that doesn’t fully answer their question.
- Keep communicating. The more people are kept informed, the less space there is for a rumour, gossip, and scaremongering. Communication has to be a continuous process. Update team members as often as you can, whenever there is news.
- Convey bad news in simple terms. If you have to convey bad news, keep it simple and straightforward. Use plain English so there is as little room for misunderstanding as possible, and make sure there’s no jargon in there.
There is really no better way to dealing with bad times but to meet them head on, review your purpose, communicate honestly with your team and work out together on how you will move forward.
Your team will be looking to you for reassurance, peace of mind and direction.