Supporting Your Team Through Coronavirus

Kyla Holcombe, Ph.D., Insights Consultant & Organizational PsychologistLeadership, Strategic ListeningLeave a Comment

The world is still working to understand the coronavirus and COVID-19, but you and your team are likely already feeling its impact. The latest reports according to NBC News reports, World Health Organization, state government leaders and health officials show people in more than 90 countries, including the U.S, have been infected.

Many people are alarmed and wondering what it means for their lives and their work. Managers are left wondering how to support their teams, provide clear expectations, and move business initiatives forward in the best way possible.

In an environment of uncertainty, concern about safety, and confusion about what is acceptable or not, now is a perfect time to focus on two-way communication with your team – listening to employees, providing support, and helping navigate a complex and stressful time.

As a supervisor, here are few ways critical ways you can support your team through a time like coronavirus:

Communicate as Much and Quickly as Possible

As the situation and impact of coronavirus is rapidly changing, intentional and frequent communication should be goal #1. Keeping people in the know will help build confidence that actions are being taken in the best interest of people and the business. Be accessible to your team, make a point to reach out, and let everyone know you have an open-door (with a Cloroxed knob, of course!). Your team likely has a lot of questions: What is the attendance policy and are there new expectations in response to coronavirus? Can people take time off and what is the appropriate way to do so? Are there new or additional opportunities for flex time and/or work from home?

Answer questions as best you can, point people to Human Resources partners or other sources of information, and share updates as quickly as possible. If you don’t have all the information, that’s okay. Let people know you will get more information and will share it as soon as you can. You are only one person and a lot is falling on you right now, not to mention dealing with your own reaction to the state of the world. But now is a time to stay focused on what you can provide your team – you are a primary gateway to information about processes, policies, and company updates. Assure people that you want to help get them answers, while also reminding them of other available channels to express their concerns and get questions answered.

Provide Support, Address Barriers  

In times of crisis or when people feel flooded, it can be difficult to focus or get anything done. You can help your team by discussing what’s on their plates, determining possible solutions, and creating some focus amidst the chaos. In a time of crisis, paying attention to what’s immediately at hand or coming up in the next day or two can make stress more manageable. You can help your team by outlining what’s most important, what is achievable, and where to start (sometimes that’s the toughest decision!). Small wins are important when lots of factors feel out of our control, so it is also important to recognize your team’s hard work – celebrating and sharing in success creates much needed positive energy to carry people through stressful times.

Address This as a Human Issue

Remember this is a human issue and is likely leaving your team feeling afraid, uncertain, and anxious. When we see the impact in operational numbers and dollars, it’s easy to forget how all of this is making people feel. Supervisors can have a big impact on easing people anxiety or escalating it, so give your team tools and empower them to be a source of strength and support for each other. It will make a huge difference to your team to feel heard and see you care about them.  

Additional Resources

With the situation and information changing so rapidly, coronavirus presents a complex challenge for people and businesses. We may not get it all right or respond in all the right ways. We can take each day as an opportunity to communicate openly, foster feelings of safety and trust, and show up to support the people in our lives.

For the latest updates and information about places affected by coronavirus check out these resources: