Maintaining Company Culture in Times of Crisis
In the past year, most companies faced crises like they had never imagined before. A global pandemic was not something most of predicted or planned for, and it left many scrambling to find ways to keep their organizations afloat and as efficient as possible. Some emerged relatively unscathed and found ways to adapt, while others struggled to acclimate and lead their teams with confidence. And most faced challenges and changes to their company cultures that they continue to grapple with today.
One of the keys to maintaining your company culture during times of crisis is having leaders at the helm who can push through setbacks and assure their employees that they can do the same. Leaders must be mature, courageous, and compassionate to pull their organizations through such difficult times. And, perhaps most importantly, leaders must have fantastic communication skills.
The past year saw millions of employees globally making the switch to remote work, many for the first time ever and without adequate notice and preparation. The key to keeping employees steady in times of crisis is being able to communicate on all fronts — listen to their struggles with genuine attention, being compassionate to what they’re going through, and communicating clearly about the changes being made throughout the company.
Change can have a positive or negative impact on an organization’s culture, but often, it is the leader who decides the tone of such transitions. If you are clearly communicating to your employees what they can expect in a time of crisis and being transparent about what you know, you’re showing that you are doing your best to make your employees comfortable, and you are building trust as you navigate troubled waters. Trust is crucial during difficult times, and may be the difference between employees looking for other more secure opportunities.
It’s also important to note that in times of crisis, human-centric leadership is particularly important. Your employees will need extra attention and assurances from you as a leader. Emotions are heightened, and, in the case of the global pandemic, people are worried about many things beyond their jobs. Allow space for that, and be a leader that is compassionate, rather than one who is cold and removed from the needs of their employees.
An organizational crisis can make or break a leader and the culture they are working to create or maintain. If you are deliberate in the way you communicate and act toward your employees, you can carry the team through the calamity and one day emerge stronger than ever.
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