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How to Lead a Team During COVID-19

How to Lead a Team During COVID-19
May 7, 2020

In this article

I have a few questions. After working from home for over a month, how are you keeping your team spirit alive? How has your management approach changed? Are you meeting with your team more often? Less often? How are you keeping them informed? When was the last time you asked them a non-work-related question? As organizational leaders, our team spirit is a reflection of our management. So, during these tough times, clear and transparent leadership is more crucial than ever. 

During this crisis, we have seen many leaders forget their teams are human. They have lives, they get overwhelmed, have kids, health, and many other stressors to worry about other than just work. We forget to take that into account. Many leaders believe in keeping business and personal lives separate. Can that mindset really work right now? Probably not. Your team is human, and they deserve more than that. If you believe they should just be grateful to have a job, you’ve already lost them and their commitment. The majority of companies weathering through COVID-19, and who will make it out alive, are the ones that make team morale and employee appreciation a priority. Company culture will determine how hard your team works and how willing they are to do whatever it takes to keep the company alive. 


Does your team have a clear vision of the company’s path to weather through COVID-19’s uncertainty? Do they know where the company stands financially? Are you sharing metrics with them? Being transparent with your team is beyond valuable, especially during times of crisis. It lessens the burden of responsibility since everyone can clearly see what is necessary to keep the company alive. Some companies don’t believe in this radical transparency, but we have seen our teams take considerably greater ownership of their roles, feeling empowered knowing that they have an impact on how our business performs. This mindset only happens when leadership initiates a culture of transparency. Maintaining a high level of team spirit begins with open and honest communication. When your team sees leadership maintain a clear vision, they will be calm to know there is a plan that everyone must work on together. 

Clear Goals 

Aside from transparency, it’s important to set clear expectations for everyone. Your teams should know what their responsibilities are daily, in order to meet company-wide goals. This also allows team members to know what they really should focus on and should prioritize. It also gives employees a sense of purpose when they have a clear vision of how they will ultimately be measured. During these stressful times, it may be easy to forget about this. One of the main reasons some employees leave jobs is because of not having clear goals or a path to success. Everyone wants to know there is a clear path. 

Be Thoughtful

Have you asked your teammates individually about how they are doing? Are they stressed? Is COVID-19 affecting their family? Are they safe? If you haven’t taken a moment to ask, you should. Not all conversations should circle around work. When bosses show they truly have their teams’ health and wellbeing in their best interest, they are more likely to be appreciated and respected. While everyone is working at home in this new “virtual” space, make sure to keep boundaries, encourage them to take breaks, and even take a day off if needed. Even though they are working at home, that doesn’t mean team members are available at your disposal. Trust us, your team will thank you later. Everyone needs a break, and working under hard conditions of uncertainty can be taxing on mental and physical health.


Have you said ‘thank you’ lately? Showing employees appreciation goes beyond just sending swag and nice things. Are you rewarding them for behavior versus just results? Team members like to know you are appreciating the steps it takes to get to the results. Showing employees appreciation goes a long way, and is probably the number one reason why employees choose to stay in a role long-term. Be mindful when they go the extra mile, and say ‘thank you’ when you see someone on your team sticking their neck out for the business. 

Encourage Communication Between Teams  

With everyone working remotely, how are you keeping communication open between teams? How are you ensuring no one feels isolated?  Working from home can be a big transition for most, especially if your company didn’t have this policy in place previously. It’s difficult to keep the same engagement you would have in the office when you are working remotely. Try setting up virtual coffee breaks, virtual lunches, happy hours, etc. Theme your Zoom calls to keep the excitement flowing! 


Managing a team during these times of uncertainty is difficult when it can seem like everything is a priority. But, keeping your team morale high will ultimately make your job easier. It always starts at the top. If leaders show transparency, clear goals, thoughtfulness, appreciation, and communication - it will go a long way. Your company will prove that even during uncertain times, you can prevail together, and come out of this stronger than ever before. Prioritize company culture, and your team will prioritize the company’s success. 

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