Leading Employees Through a Pandemic

Steven Fisackerly says Compassion and Composure Wins the Day 

COVID-19 has changed everything. It has re-defined how we communicate, associate, and interact with everyday people and places. Steven Fisackerly, Chief Operating Officer at Skilled Trade Investments, said that when the virus became a pandemic of global significance, one of the first acts business leaders took was to protect the hundreds of thousands of employees by initiating a “work from home” policy. Many companies didn’t even have such a plan and were forced, literally overnight, to create and implement one across its entire workforce.

These are the moments that define authentic leadership. It is incumbent upon leaders to devise a plan, put it in place, and adapt to each daily situation. Employees, teams, managers, directors are all looking for leadership to guide them through these uncertain times, and if you have a solid footing in the ability to lead, then step up and lead.

As a leader, the most critical asset is the workforce. Fisackerly says that no matter the size of your business or company, human recourses are the most valuable asset, so taking care of the body of people on the front and backlines of the team is job number one. Fisackerly points out that leadership is about responsibility, compassion, flexibility, and being the voice of calm in a sea of chaos. These attributes are the essential qualities needed during this unprecedented time.

Staff is reading headlines, watching 401K account drop, and worried about their jobs and the safety of their families. Each has a story. Some are single parents; some take care of elderly parents; some are alone. The voice of a leader has to speak to each person with equal care and concern. Let them know you are all in this together and that nobody is alone. Assure them that you will get through this as a company, a community, and as a society. What you communicate with them will resonant in every aspect of their lives.

Fisackerly says that now is a great time to set goals and put the process of reaching those goals into action. Build a plan for each division and team. Set clear goals and structure those goals in a feasible way based on the new workforce structure of remote work. It would also be a good idea to set one or two short-term “achievement goals” that will help the workforce settle into their new routines and give them a confidence boost. This will pay dividends down the road.

Lastly, but equally important is to keep the lines of communication open and send regular all-staff updates. Be open and honest about the current state of affairs, and make sure you create a channel for staff to voice concerns, ask questions, or offer suggestions. This will give your workforce clarity and empowerment to contribute positively to solving the issues you all face together. And, you just might find a new rising star through this process.

Remember that this pandemic will hopefully be gone, but how you handled and presented your leadership to your workforce will be remembered. Focus on the business but remember it’s the people that turn the wheels toward progress and success.