First let us say that our thoughts are with everyone impacted by Russia’s appalling invasion of Ukraine. We hope your family, friends, and colleagues are safe.
In times of crisis, managers (and their employers) often have significant influence on the lives of their employees. When people need help the most, they remember those who went out of their way to aid them. If you’re a manager, you may have an opportunity right now to make a real difference.
So we wanted to collect some of the best advice that we’ve seen to help managers make that difference. These situations are far more complex than can be addressed in a blog post, and not all these suggestions will be applicable to all companies, but hopefully there’s points in here that will resonate and enable you to better support your people.
Here’s some ways you may be able to help.
If you want some more practical help communicating with your team, Lena Reinhard has an excellent framework, which we’ve just reprinted here in full.
She offers the following notes:
You should include:
What’s the situation?
Some notions about what’s been going on; acknowledge that you’re aware of the situation. Be honest and authentic, don’t sugar-coat over complex and difficult situations. Be cautious with your assessment of the gravity/severity of the situation (e.g.: The events preceding the 2020 BlackLivesMatter protests were initially labelled by white journalists as “surprising”, when for a lot of Black and BIPOC people, those were yet another instance in a very long history of violence).
What do we (not) know?
Share what you know and be explicit about what you don’t know. You likely won’t have all the answers. Be honest and embrace ambiguities.
What hasn’t changed
Share guideposts that you are using for orientation now, and that others can look to as well. This can be your company values, your commitment to your teams’ well-being, or team principles. These can serve as reminders of a) what guides decisions now and b) something to look to as a certain factor in times of change.
What are your priorities?
Your 3-4 most important priorities as a business and leader. This helps people understand what’s important for you.
What actions are you taking?
You may just have heard of it yourself and are still trying to understand what’s going on and how to respond with your organisation, or there may already be a plan in pace (or one in the making). Share what you know.
What resources are available to your team(s)?
Clarify what’s available for folks, from time off, mental health days, medical leave, to employee resources, or leave for participating in protests.
When messaging teams of managers, include resources for them on how to support their teams during this time and how you’re going to support them.
What can your team(s) do?
Many people want to either learn more information or help in any way, if possible. Share some resources like a trustworthy source of information on the situation, organisations to donate to. This may not be part of your first messages as it can take some time to research.
Where can your team(s) ask questions?
Are you setting up a special Slack/Teams channel or doc? There can be cases where different groups need different types of information; help people find the right place for them.
Where are updates going to land, and how often?
This part is important. Establish a communication cadence and stick with it. Avoid vague statements “we will let you know once we know more” and instead use something that adds predictability: “I will check in with you again [an appropriate time, depending on the event]”.
Add something that feels authentic to you and your team and your relationship with them. This can be a helpful way to e.g. remind people that you’re there for them if they need you, or just connect with them in a meaningful way.
She also offers some advice for before you hit send:
If you’d like to read further on leading in a crisis, we’d recommend:
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We’ve compiled a list of questions you can ask your managers and team members to identify the challenges they face, and help you pick the right solutions.