Stress Management For Leaders Through Pandemic

20 April 2020 - The Corona crisis is a huge and unique challenge for all of us. The health and safety of our employees, customers and partners are our top priority. Most of the companies are doing their utmost efforts to take care of their employees. In addition to the work we’ve been doing to support our own employees, we would like to share these best practices with other companies

Stress Management For Leaders Through Pandemic

In January 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak of a new coronavirus disease, COVID-19, to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. WHO stated that there is a high risk of COVID-19 spreading to other countries around the world.

Whether it’s social distancing, working from home, or having to teach children while they are home from school, most people are making sacrifices as the virus continues to spread. Employees are under tremendous stress, both personally and professionally.

What, then, can leaders do to help workers navigate this difficult time?

Supporting employees with mental health services is not only an ethical obligation for employers, it’s also a bottom-line issue. During uncertain and fluid times, the need for strong, calm, trustworthy leadership is more important than ever.

People look to leaders for guidance on what to do, what to expect and how to act. There are several ways that leaders can improve their communication skills to maximize trust and minimize stress and anxiety.

Psychologists’ research points to several ways that leaders — whether they are government officials, business managers, educators or parents — can improve their communication skills to maximize trust and minimize stress and anxiety.

Manage Stress

  • Be calm and deliberate in your decisions and actions
  • You can start by slowing down, taking stock of your stress and understanding what is causing an emotional reaction
  • Even in a high-profile crisis, you must take breaks to reset and refocus

Share Information with Empathy and Optimism

  • Recognize the anxiety people are experiencing when communicating decisions such as a business closure or a reduction of work hours
  • People who are anxious need their leaders to give them hope and a sense of control
  • Make it clear and provide specific steps that there is a path to a better future and let people know how they can contribute

Use Credibility to Build Trust

  • Demonstrate that you understand the risks of a situation to build trust
  • Don’t expect that you know all the answers. Defer to other experts — such as scientists or policymakers
  • Expert opinions differ on critical issues like optimal containment policies and economic impact. It’s good to consult multiple sources

Be Honest and Transparent

  • If there is a disappointing news, deliver in a straightforward way and avoid giving a false perception that everything is OK. Effective leaders don’t hide bad news, which rarely stays hidden
  • Leaders who don’t share the facts quickly become less credible, and this can lead to more panic

Provide Regular Communications

  • Establish a communication routine that people can look to with reliability. People are prone to imagine the worst when communication stops

Provide a Forum for Feedback

  • People will have questions and will want to offer suggestions. Make people feel involved and heard to gain trust. You can’t collect and respond to everyone’s feedback, but you can provide appropriate channels for questions

Be a Role Model

  • People look to leaders as role models when they aren’t sure how they should behave
  • Behave consistently with what you are asking others to do
  • Be the first to embrace new policies such as practicing social distancing. People will follow the example of leaders they respect

Source:  https://www.apa.org/news/apa/2020/03/covid-19-leadership

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