By Lisa Horn, Manager CliftonLarsonAllen Appleton – Email T. 920.996.1468
- Many business owners are juggling the need to keep their business running with the need to protect their team members.
- These leaders may need to make decisions that challenge their integrity and values.
- During times of uncertainty and confusion, be transparent with your team to build trust, which is critical to having an engaged workforce.
COVID-19 has placed many business owners in an uncomfortable position. These leaders are navigating a high-stakes balancing act as they try to keep their business running while maintaining a safe and engaged workforce — and a misstep could directly impact their credibility. When it feels like business rules and standards are changing daily, leaders are faced with difficult decisions. How do you maintain your values and integrity in the process?
Many business owners are finding this balance is top of mind. Business leaders who feel they’re doing the right thing by telling team members to stay home if they experience coronavirus symptoms may still wonder and worry about what might happen to the business. Will people come to work? If not, how will the business exist?
Other businesses are having difficulty securing the masks their team members wear routinely. Perhaps team members were taught to wear masks once, but now, due to a shortage, they’re asked to wear the mask multiple times. What will team members think about how the company values their health and safety? Will the company be perceived to be putting team members at risk?
These are all tough decisions with high stakes. However, by taking the time to think through your COVID-19 responses, you have the opportunity to help keep your team members safe and engaged. Here are three things you can do to help maintain trust during the pandemic.
1. Be thoughtful about your behaviors and messages
As a leader, how you act and the messages you share are critical to maintaining trust among your team members. People want to feel valued and actively cared for. Demonstrate that you genuinely care about their safety and well-being through your actions. Reacting and getting frustrated with team members’ concerns — or suggesting that this crisis is not as bad as everyone is saying — is not helpful in showing that you care and are sincerely concerned for them.
2. Assign a point person to stay up to date on the changes
Staying up to date on federal, state, and local legislative changes is imperative — and may be one of the biggest challenges. Should my team wear masks? If so, what kind? Do we need to be taking temperatures? How close together can two people work? How do I start bringing my team back to work? All of these questions have different answers, depending on where you live and who governs you.
Assign a team or a key person to keep a pulse on the latest news. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have shared guidance related to COVID-19. States and counties are also sharing information regularly, as is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
By staying informed, you can effectively build a rolling entry back to normal conditions — or even create a safe work playbook.
3. Communicate, communicate, and communicate more
Build a predictable cadence of communication, which helps maintain trust with your team. Consider choosing a regular time every day or week to share information about what is new or what they can expect.
Your leadership soft skills are more important now than ever. Consider important soft skills such as your communication style, effective collaboration, and showing empathy. How well do you do these? Think about these skills the next time you are talking to your team, and continue to fine-tune your approach.