While we are in the middle of a holiday season, we are hearing story after story after story of disillusionment. People, our friends, being laid off from their dream jobs.
As leaders, we want to hold the responsibility that leads our teams to success and conversely to care for them during the “down times.” It’s easier through those times of happiness, but the challenge lies in those times of conflict or now during an economic downturn.
How do you show leadership when you yourself might be worried, scared and yes, possibly depressed as changes in the economy threaten your livelihood and your own job security?
5 Ways to Lead your Team During an Economic Downturn as a Grateful Leader!
Read. Learn. Implement!
1 Be Candid and Transparent with your Team
Be transparent and give people the ‘why’ when changes are coming to your company and your team. Tough news is somewhat easier to digest when you explain the ‘why’ behind budget cuts, team reorganization and possible layoffs. By speaking the hard truths, you can avoid pretending everything is fine one day, knowing massive changes are approaching. Being candid helps to reduce discontent and helps your leadership credibility.
2 Encourage Conversations
During an economic downturn people are scared of the unknown and uncertainty. It’s normal for your team to be scared. They are worried about job security, which translates into worries about their future, perhaps being able to provide for a family. One way to find out what your team is thinking and worrying about it to encourage conversations.
Expect these conversations to be about their personal life and worries, but also about the team. Team dynamics might shift as company wide reorganizations might be in the works. Talk about what this might mean for your team, and share how you’ll be present through all of it.
Ways to encourage more candid conversations:
- Don’t skip meeting check-ins
- Make it okay to hold ad hoc meetings specific to a situation
- Dare to dialogue
3 Listen to your Team
As much as you can encourage conversation among your team members, be sure to listen as well. Listen with intent for what their immediate concerns are and if you can, provide space for candid results. Offer reassurances if they are available. Be willing to say “I don’t know…” and then find the answer.. Listen for potential roadblocks down the road, for grievances, and for conflict.
Ways to listen to your team:
- Stay neutral in time of conflict
- Stand in the storm when things are tough
- Bystand in those high-stakes situations
4 Prioritize Resources: Products and People
As a leader, the distribution of resources is your responsibility. Prioritizing your products, services and people to get the most out of everything and everyone can be an exhausting task when resources have become scarce. Be prepared to shift when needed. If you have to move things around, go back to number 1, transparency. Tell your team what is happening and why.
Ways to prioritize resources:
- Agile mindset
- Avoid over-allocating
- Find the BLUF and speak to it
5 Uphold your Company Strategy
Your company’s strategy should not change at the tip of a hat. A strategy is the long game. What can and should change, in times of economic downturn, are tactics. Tightening the belt might mean less marketing, less outreach, smaller projects, putting projects on hold. However, cutting all marketing, all outreach and all projects will not uphold your strategy if these are your main points of sales and revenue.
As a grateful leader, it is up to you to dive deep and come up with ways to uphold the strategy laid out previously, and take care of the budget, productivity and people all at the same time.
The Grateful Leader Leads by Example
Leaders lead by example, in good times and bad times.
Those who depend on you for leadership will be worried and scared in times of economic downturn. Your team needs your empathy, your listening ears, your attention and your devotion to them to be clear and present.
Let me end this with this beautiful quote: “When we focus on our gratitude, the tide of disappointment goes out and the tide of love rushes in.” ~ Kristin Armstrong