Entrepreneurs always say that every business has to go through a real crisis before becoming a real business. Every big business we know has had a few big crises in their lifetime, and they’re still in the game. There are many crisis management studies on the web, but none tell us how to run a business in times of war.
Our company had never experienced a real crisis before February 2022. Yet, even before us, I always told my team: “Every company has its time in the sun and a time of crisis.
When the Russian-Ukrainian war broke out on February 24, all Ukrainian businesses faced a crisis. I’ll use our example to explain how we handled it.
Here are six tips for effectively managing a team during a war.
Establish an emergency communication channel
In these times of upheaval, people will need lots of up-to-date information about what is happening. When people don’t know what’s going on, a vacuum is created that can be filled with rumors or distorted news.
To avoid this, you need to establish a special communication channel that is active 24 hours a day. Slack notifications, for example, can be automatically disabled outside of working hours, so make sure you’re using a channel that your team uses. more often so she’s less likely to miss important notifications.
This might seem like an easy and fairly obvious step, but it’s the most effective way to help your team when they’re feeling lost or disoriented, which is only natural when a war is raging around them. .
Communicate twice as often with your team
Training in stress, anxiety and personal finance management will help your employees acquire the necessary knowledge and react to difficult situations.
Great leaders communicate with their people, and we all need to remember that “overcommunication is good communication.”
For us, this saying has never been so true. Communicate as often as there are updates on the issue, but no less than twice a day. Also, follow your usual team communication rules: Be honest, empathetic, and human.
Finally, in the event of a severe crisis, most people’s ability to think critically can be hampered. In such situations, you may have to explain things too much to your team more than usual. Do not shirk this responsibility. If your team needs a hand, be there to hold it. This will pay off in the long run and help you stay in control from the early days of the crisis until things calm down.
Stop investing in R&D and get people back to work ASAP
As a leader, you have to save your business because it’s something people rely on in times of uncertainty. The first thing to do here is to save as much money as possible in order to stay in business for as long as possible. This often means cutting non-essential expenses. It can be a tough decision, but it’s a sacrifice you may have to make.
Once our team found themselves in safe places, the best way forward was to get them back to work and help them calm down. It sounds strange, but it’s the best way to direct the anxieties and nervous energy of war. At work, where everything is known, prescribed and simple, people find calm and a continuous sense of purpose.
In my experience, the first wave of crisis is the most difficult due to high levels of uncertainty. However, once you get past this phase, there will be fewer variables, that is, when you return to investing activities if they are still feasible.
Use your standard remote work policy
When the war broke out, it was very difficult to manage the team and restore our business processes. So we waited to do so after our team had been evacuated and safely relocated.
Proven remote policies have been a lifesaver when our employees were not in their usual environment. No one overlooks the value of teamwork, so invest more in it, because people will need each other’s support to a much greater degree during times of great conflict. Among online team building activities, augmented reality activities have proven to be an incredible mood booster.
Organize special training to support your team
Crises, fortunately, are rare, but this also means that people often don’t have enough knowledge to handle the unusual information loads they are bombarded with in such situations.
In such situations, you should:
- Educate people by organizing special training with the help of experts. Training in stress, anxiety and personal finance management will help your employees acquire the necessary knowledge and react to difficult situations. The Ukrainian Center for Strategic Communications has created a guide called “Psychological support during war”, explaining how to spot and help mental health problems.
- Invite successful and respected people to share positive thoughts about the situation and perhaps explain how they coped with particularly difficult times. Authority bias is real and it works as a morale booster when a team needs direction and a sense that things will be okay.
- Share relevant positive news to boost your team’s morale and create a vision for a brighter future.
Link business goals to social initiatives
When the war broke out, people wanted to help. It was good, but we realized that it could affect the focus on work and could eventually lead the company to an even deeper crisis. At times like these, put your Step 1 over-explanation tool to work and educate people about how the success of your business benefits society.
Thanks to what your team accomplishes at work, your company can invest more resources in charitable initiatives when growth or profitability is maintained or improved. Therefore, your team can do more and have more resources to do something important for the company.
This should have no effect on your existing OKR system, as your business goals will remain the same. However, the team perks have changed – instead of a good barbecue, you will now invest the money saved in something beneficial to society at large. Statistics show that when a company leads with purpose, 76% of respondents are more likely to trust that company.
Volunteering has become an essential component of our team’s operations. For example, we organized contributions, searched for equipment, provided soldiers and helped to ensure supplies for people in disaster areas.
Every business will face a crisis caused by a unique combination of factors. Still, the tips I’ve provided here are applicable to almost any problematic situation. Remember to maintain a strong leadership position and remain empathetic with your team.