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How to keep your staff engaged after a crisis

Hurricane Matthew has left our small country in a state of disrepair. Though we have reason to be grateful, there is much to do to bring restoration. As a business owner, manager or supervisor, how do you keep your team motivated and engaged to perform? Your business may be a victim of a challenged economy, or morale may be low. Or maybe you have received a surge in business due to the recent storm, which has placed a serious demand on your staff, some of whom are preoccupied with their own state of affairs.

How do you keep your team at peak performance when work may not be at the top of their priority list or they are experiencing major stress? You have a business to run. If your company is struggling to survive, you need a team that is engaged; if you are overwhelmed with work, focus and engagement is even more essential.

Here are five tips to help you to lead your team as we manage a national crisis:


Keep communication open

You should have an idea of what your team members are dealing with on an individual basis. Informal conversation will help you to appreciate their possible preoccupations and challenges. Many times management would prefer to keep their distance regarding the woes of their staff, for fear of getting sucked into making concessions for people’s personal problems. However, this will give you a chance to show you care about them as a person. The cliché “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” holds true. This is an opportunity to be empathetic and strengthen your rapport. So, be accessible and open.


Be empathetic, not sympathetic

What is the difference? If someone fell overboard and was drowning, a sympathetic person would feel so badly, they would jump in to try to save them, even though they know they can’t swim. An empathetic person would find a rope or pole to throw out to pull them in. Empathy in this situation means identifying with their concerns and helping them to get through it in a way that is fair and not detrimental to the business. There should be an understanding, if we shirk our responsibility and the business fails, everyone goes home and that doesn’t help anyone’s situation.


Strengthen your team

Use this crisis to bolster your team. Empower them to come up with ideas on how they can be flexible to help each other without compromising the needs of the business. As the one in charge, you can set the guidelines and let them brainstorm the strategies. You will get greater buy-in and you may be surprised at their creativity and ingenuity to ensure the business is covered. People deliver amazing results when they feel empowered.


Keep your words positive

No matter how grave the situation, always focus on the positive. As the leader, you must set the tone for your workplace. Avoid words like “can’t”, “don’t”, “won’t” and “no”. Use phrases like “what we can do”. When conversations begin to go south, look for the positive, “I’m sorry for your loss, but I am so glad your children weren’t hurt”. Lavish praise for the smallest contributions. Build morale. Do not voice your personal fears.


• Check our website for upcoming Lunch and Learn for Managers event, where you will learn communication essentials to move your team to peak performance.

Kim Welcome is the CEO of Influential Voice, a communication trainer and coach; she assists businesses and professionals to achieve their goals by helping them to develop deliberate, skillful, polished communication skills. Contact: [email protected] or call 242-225-9013.

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