Ten weeks ago, we heard the first reports of the COVID 19 disease. Since then, it has arrived on our shores, but it has only been the last couple of days that most organizations have gotten serious about plans to deal with this pandemic.
The chances are good that you and your team have developed the basic plans for how your organization moves forward should cases be diagnosed in your community or even in your workplace.
As I’ve always told my managers, “We don’t get paid for the easy days, we get paid for the difficult days.”
Managers are going to earn their keep as they deal with COVID 19
But it is a time like this that we have to remember to be more than a manager taking care of the operational details of the crisis. We have to show leadership to our teams who may worry about their jobs or even their health.
As you make your plans, be a leader by following some simple steps:
Protecting your employees is the most important job you have. You want to make sure that your organization has policies in place to handle instances of illness, but you also need to deal with the emotional fears of your workers. Share information. Be respectful of their privacy, but show concern and your willingness to listen.
If you haven’t already, set up cross-functional teams to deal with the day-to-day tasks of your organization should someone or several become seriously ill
Test your emergency procedures. One of my favorite radio shows is OPEN SOURCE, produced by the BBC. This week the host was based on her kitchen table to test whether they had systems in place for her to do the show if they had to shut down their studios. She spoke with BBC correspondents around the world. What is your work from home plan?
Leaders need to review the financial situation of their organization. Do they have contingency funds in place for extraordinary expenses?
Ask yourself if you have the supplies you need to stay operational. Some vendors may shut down. Who can you rely on if you need additional services?
Let your stakeholders know what you are doing to sustain your operation.
Stay in touch with your governance leadership, whether it is your parent University or a board of directors. If your University is set to send everyone home, make sure that your important work is aligned, let’s say, with that of your campus police department. That department stays open no matter what.
Your obligation is to the public is to stay operational as long as is possible.
Keep informed of the latest developments and news.
And finally, leaders should use this time to demonstrate that they are doing whatever it takes to make sure the continuity of the organization will remain as “normal” as possible.
Reassure everyone that eventually things will return to normal. It may be a new normal, but we will survive this.