Be Steady

My nephew Charlie is 28, smart as a whip and autistic.  He lives with his brother James.  When life throws him a curve-ball and his schedule is disrupted, he becomes agitated, out of sorts and hard to communicate with.  Last week, the family returned from a long-anticipated vacation.  They have had to self-quarantine.  Charlie is consumed with worry about the situation.  James is good at reading Charlie and during these times he calmly and quietly tells him, “Charlie, be steady.”  While things still may not be right in his world, Charlie trusts that James will explain what he cannot understand.

The Coronavirus pandemic is throwing business a curveball.  Employees are being laid off; businesses are closing; some may never re-open.  Orders are being pushed out and some canceled.  Businesses are waiting for shipments that might or might not show up.  People are getting sick and some are dying.  Can life get much more disrupted than this?

There is an adage: “Manage the crisis or it will manage you.”  As much as we try to prepare for life’s curveballs, it’s impossible to plan for all the contingencies that could strike.  In the midst of this situation, the best plan is to communicate often.  Be visible to your team.  Talk to them; listen to and address their fears.

Know who your crisis leaders are.  Every company has them – the ones who cope well under pressure: the ones you trust to steady the troops.  Communicate thoroughly and frequently.  Share as much as you can about how the situation is affecting your company.  Reassure if possible, but be truthful; chances are, your employees already know if bad news is coming.

Finally, speak to your people’s hearts.  How are their families faring during these tumultuous times?  Do they need more flexibility in their schedules?  What creative alternatives can your company come up with to cope?  Are there resources outside your company that may help them?

Staying steady is difficult, especially when turmoil and uncertainty surround you.  But this is exactly the time to breathe, slow down and quell your emotions.

Life can be an unexpected ride through a jungle in a beat-up jeep with random stops along the way.  There may be long stretches of beauty and others of utter terror as you make your way out of a ditch.  Don’t over-steer, don’t slam on the brakes, don’t despair.  Be steady and you’ll weather this storm as you have other storms.

The road is easier together,

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