Whether you are managing a small team, a large department, or an entire organization, leading others is not easy to do well. Leadership requires multiple and varied skills. Highly rated leaders are understanding, organized, and willing to make tough decisions. And they know the leadership mistakes to avoid after a crisis.
We know from our leadership simulation assessments that to effectively lead others, you need to be able to communicate with your team clearly and regularly while coaching them to ever high performance. You need to see into the future and to set goals for the team that are aspirational yet still attainable. And all this you must do when it’s business as usual.
But what happens when there has been a crisis at work? You need to bear down, practice the same skills even more effectively, but also adapt to the new situation.
A Road Map of the Top Leadership Mistakes to Avoid after a Crisis
Here is a guide of how to overcome the top leadership mistakes to avoid after a crisis. Based upon data from action learning leadership development workshops in the field, lower performing leaders and managers commonly fail to do the following well after a crisis:
- Clarify the Plan Going Forward
Without the emotional and intellectual toll of a crisis, our organizational alignment research found that strategic clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing teams. After a crisis, it is even more imperative that teams are clear about where they are headed, why, and how to get there.
The good news is that a crisis often decreases available options and clarifies what matters most. For example, many companies took immediate and meaningful employee engagement actions during the early stages of COVID because it was obvious that they needed to put the health and welfare of their people first.
If your leaders or managers are facing a crisis at work, ensure that they have the time, resources, and skills to create a clear, believable, and implementable 90-day plan that creates a clear line of sight for each and every team member to contribute.
- Communicate in a Way that Builds Trust
To be engaged, employees need to trust that they are getting the true story. Especially after a confidence-shattering crisis, leaders and managers need to heed the advice from management training program experts and increase both the quality and the quantity of their communication with the individuals on their team.
High performing leaders ensure a timely and transparent two-way flow of information to ensure that their teams have what they need to adapt to the new situation.
- Provide Effective Performance Feedback
New supervisor training participants typically learn that their direct reports desire frequent and effective feedback. After a crisis at work, the desire for people to know where they and the company stand only intensifies.
The best leaders recognize that performance transparency — in terms of both behavioral norms and performance results — matters. Ensure that your leaders and managers know how to identify, track, and communicate performance expectations that are perceived as clear, relevant, accurate, meaningful, fair, consistent, accurate, trusted, timely, transparent, and just possible.
Then ensure that your managers and leaders have the confidence and competence to encourage and guide the desired behaviors and attitudes that are critical to overcome the new challenges and navigate toward team success.
- Be Prepared for What Lies Ahead
Having survived a crisis should help leaders be more alert to what is happening currently, what is likely to happen next, and what needs to be done to adequately prepare for the future. There is no crystal ball, but there are indicators in the marketplace, emerging trends, and the arrival of new competitors.
Savvy leaders keep their eyes open for developing threats to their team’s success to help avoid or mitigate future risks.
- Adjust the Way Work Gets Done
To survive a crisis or disruption, the way work gets done often needs to adapt. Make sure that your leaders can analyze and adjust the key structures, processes, systems, behaviors, and skills required to thrive in the new reality.
Re-evaluate current work practices and co-design the new ways with your teams to increase commitment and alignment.
- Recognize and Reward What Matters Most
To keep employees engaged and performing at their peak, ensure that you align work, rewards, and recognition to intrinsically and extrinsically motivate people to perform at their peak while feeling valued for their contributions.
A little thought and caring goes a long way toward building team spirit and morale.
The Bottom Line
Following a crisis, leaders and managers need to work even harder at the basics to lead their teams out of crisis mode and onto a steady path toward success. Are you drilling down on what you know works to avoid the top manager mistakes?
To learn more about how to handle performance expectations after a crisis, download Leaders and Performance Pressure – The Science to Know Behind Performance Expectations