Of course crisis can strike at any time, but summertime seems to be especially risky with all of the severe weather and flooding that annually puts lives at risk, displaces people and disrupts businesses.
When they strike, they leave people reeling emotionally, and it’s hard to think about “business as usual” in the midst of it all. Yet, for people who are physically unaffected by the events, it also seems like the perfect time to ask “What if it happened to me/us?” No doubt, if your corporate headquarters or branch offices were hit by catastrophe, your organization’s leaders would step in, make the hard decisions and issue guidance. Furthermore, employees would be “in it together,” experiencing the same pain and working to bounce back as a team.
However, what if just one of your remote employees was affected? What if one person lost power for days or even weeks? What if his home was flooded and his company-issued PC, phone and files were destroyed? What if she lost her home altogether or, worse, a loved one? Most likely, you’d be the one to manage the aftermath, and it goes much deeper than just lost material items.
While water recedes, the power comes back on, infrastructure is rebuilt, and debris is cleared, the emotional scars remain. So I ask you to think beyond “just getting the work covered” in the event that one of your remote employees experiences the kind of large-scale event that leaves an indelible mark.
Understand that some things are near impossible to “just get over.” Show some empathy, offer whatever support you can, and be patient with people as they work to rebuild and recover from what could be one of the worst days of their lives. Bring your team together to not only cover for the employee, but to figure out ways you can help your remote coworker from a distance. Effective leadership isn’t just about “getting things done.” It is also about uplifting your employees when they need it most.
If you have led your virtual team through one of these crises or others, we would love to hear your stories. Your experiences and the lessons you learned could help others. Please share in the comments section.
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