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Lead with Empathy

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Best Practices

Listen to your team

The uncertainty and anxiety regarding the personal dangers from the COVID-19 will have a lasting impact beyond how your team works to meet their goals and objectives. This epidemic and its long-term implications will make the challenge of adjusting to work changes even greater, so check-in regularly to make sure your team feels heard and understood.

Get to know your team

Each person has a different comfort level when dealing with change and ambiguity. Get to know the perspectives of each employee on your team - how are the changes impacting their work, and what concerns do they have? With this rapidly evolving situation, their feelings may change from one day to the next. Be proactive, ask open-ended questions, listen to understand, and follow-up regularly to help your team stay focused and stay resilient during extended periods of uncertainty and change.

Be available

Make sure your employees know that you are still available, even if one (or both) of you are working remotely. If your employees are used to being able to step by your office if they have a quick question or concern, share that they can still contact you and the best ways and times to do so. Use Zoom so you can pick up on emotional or non-verbal cues during conversations with remote employees.

Care for remote employees

Unlike working onsite, when working from home there’s no physical separation between work and home so it’s easier for work to impact home life. Set boundaries with your remote employees so they can easily transition out of work mode at the end of the work day.

Be visible

Teams managing a crisis have a tendency to meet behind closed doors for days at a time. While certain discussions require confidentiality, you should still be visible to your employees. Your presence will send a profound message: Everything is under control. Make yourself visible by holding non-confidential meetings in open spaces. And be sure to balance crisis management with running the rest of the work. As a leader, you have many responsibilities. Don’t let the crisis consume you.

Set an example

Team leaders and direct supervisors play a crucial role during periods of disruption and uncertainty. Your team is likely looking to you to model how they should act and react during this time, so set an example for how you want your employees to behave: remain calm, communicate transparently, be fair and available, and acknowledge and manage the anxiety or nervousness that max exist.


If and when dramatic events occur, give people opportunities to safely express their emotions. Reach out to employees on a personal basis. Get out of your office and into the hallway. Be there for them. Encourage everyone to do the same.