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Coaching Employees Through The Coronavirus

 March 19, 2020   By Nancy Lewis

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Coaching Employees Through The Coronavirus

One thing I know for sure is that you all have been inundated with scientific evidence and perhaps far too many messages of fear, controversy and chaos in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic.  

The state of our nation and our world is filled with uncertainty and we are all operating in uncharted territory.

This crisis calls for leadership.

Your role as a leader and coach is more important now than ever.

Your people need you!

It is predictable and inevitable that this time of change and uncertainty is met with fear, shock, anger, feelings of loss and confusion. Our ability as leaders to help our teams navigate these tumultuous times requires change management talent and expertise.  While we are faced with the same confusion and uncertainty as our teams, it’s our responsibility to help coach them and provide unprecedented leadership support.

This chart offers some quick tips and reminders for providing support to the common emotional responses that employees may have when facing the changes and uncertainty brought on by this global crisis.

Remember, in all cases, LEAD WITH EMPATHY!  Show care and concern for the feelings of others while demonstrating emotional self-control.

 Predictable Emotional Reactions in times of uncertainty and change

Ways to Support

ANGER

“Why did this get so out of control!”

“They don’t know what they’re doing!”

“This will never work!”

 

  • Remain calm
  • Encourage employees to share their concerns
  • Listen

SADNESS

“Why is this happening to me?”

“Why can’t things stay the same?”

 

  • Show support
  • Encourage employees to talk about their feelings of sadness
  • Ask “how can I help you right now?”

FEAR

“This will not be good for me.”

“What if we can’t survive this?”

 

 

 

  • Learn what concerns the employee the most right now
  • Provide as much information as you can, as often as you can
  • When you don’t know something, try to find the answer

SELF-DOUBT

“What is going to happen to me?”

“What if my future falls apart”

“I can’t do this.”

 

  • Provide reassurance
  • Share your vision for the future state
  • Be accessible

 

What else can you do to provide effective leadership through this Coronavirus crisis?

  1. Conduct virtual team meetings once a day, at the same time and ask:
  • How is each person feeling?
  • What has each person been working on in the past 24 hours?
  • What questions does each person have?
  • What will each person be working on for the next 24 hours?
  1. Provide information
  • Stay abreast of credible news and share it with your team
  • Communicate clearly, concisely and consistently
  • Provide information that offers glimmers of hope
  • Ask team members to share helpful information they have found with other team members
  1. Be present and manage your own emotions
  • Your emotional state will send messages of calm or chaos
  • Your ability to manage the stress of this complex crisis sets the tone and example for others
  • Find one or two strategies that will help you remain calm – breathing, reading, reflecting, exercise
  • Find a person (not a direct team member) who you can access for support
  1. Involve the team in decision making
  • Include others in customer interactions
  • Have the team help establish project priorities
  • Let the team contribute ideas for survival and success
  1. Conduct individual coaching conversations in which you ask questions like:
  • How are you doing right now?
  • What are you most concerned about?
  • What are 1-2 strategies you are using to help yourself and others?
  • What can I do right now to help you?
  • What information can I offer to help offset your concerns?

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, 
nor the most intelligent that survives. 
It is the one that is most adaptable to change.


– Leon C. Megginson

At Living As A Leader, we offer a Leadership Development Series designed to produce leaders that can positively shape the cultural environment, reduce turnover and achieve crucial business initiatives. We do this by providing training, coaching and consulting with a focus on pragmatic communication tools for leaders at all levels of your organization.

For more information, contact Steph Kotlarek at skotlarek@livingasaleader.com

About the Author


Nancy Lewis

Principal and Co-Founder, Living As A Leader®

Nancy Lewis is an expert leadership development facilitator, coach and consultant. One of her greatest talents is designing and executing customized solutions to complex leadership challenges. With nearly 30 years in the field, Nancy is highly sought after as a versatile provider to many companies within a variety of industries.

Email Nancy Nancy's Bio

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