by Martin Royal

I was discussing with a friend last week about how, in the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis, her 1,000+ strong global architecture company established a crisis management team. They established this team to explore how they would respond to the unfolding crisis. The team evolved organically as different stakeholders were brought in to understand the impact the crisis might have on different parts of the business. The team began holding, and continues to hold, daily huddles to monitor progress, projects, and deadlines and assess any changes. It was a rapid response to the unfolding crisis that allowed them to more effectively stay ahead of their business challenges.

It is safe to assume that, by now, most businesses have established a COVID-19 crisis management team. Whether this is a 2-person team or multi-stakeholder task force will depend upon your business and your specific needs. If you haven’t established a COVID-19 crisis management team yet, consult the “The 10 Steps of Crisis Communications” on the Free Management Library for helpful insights.

How is your COVID-19 crisis management team doing?

An effective crisis management team is only as good as your team’s ability to function together to successfully manage a crisis. This begs the question, how is your COVID-19 crisis management team doing?

A few years ago, Google conducted a large-scale study to identify the ingredients of a successful team. Named Project Aristotle, this project explored 150 Google teams spread out around the globe. Google looked at everything from engineering teams to sales teams. You can read about the details of the project by checking out Google’s Re:work post.

They found that the best teams are:

  • Those where individual members spend approximately the same amount of time speaking during meetings;
  • Those where team members actively listen to one another.

In addition, they also found that the best teams possess specific attributes that distinguish them from low-performing teams. According to Google’s Re:work blog, five attributes stood out:

  • Psychological safety. Team members feel safe to take risks and be vulnerable in front of each other.
  • Dependability. Team members get things done on time and meet Google’s high bar for excellence.
  • Structure and clarity. Team members have clear roles, plans, and goals that are specific, challenging, and attainable. 
  • Meaning. Work is personally important to team members (by providing them financial security, enabling them to support their family, giving them a chance for self-expression, etc.).
  • Impact. Team members think their work matters and creates change.

What does it mean for your COVID-19 crisis management team?

After a few weeks of operating during the crisis, take the time to assess how well your team is functioning together. This is an opportunity to review team dynamics, identify the strengths and weaknesses of your team and adjust course, if needed. For each of the five attributes, consider how you and your team are performing on the following questions:

Psychological safety

  • To what extent do I solicit input and opinions from the group?
  • To what extent is information about my personal and work style preferences shared?
  • To what extent do I encourage others to follow these practices?


  • To what extent are team members clear about their roles and responsibilities?
  • Have any roles and responsibilities shifted? Do we need to review the roles and responsibilities?
  • To what extent is the crisis management work of each team member transparent to the team?

Structure & Clarity

  • How often do I communicate about team goals and ensure that my team members understand the plan to achieve them?
  • To what extent do our crisis team meetings have a clear agenda and designated leader?


  • To what extent do I provide  team members with positive feedback on something that they are doing an outstanding job on?
  • To what extent do I offer to help team members with things they struggle with?
  • To what extent do I express my gratitude for someone who has helped me or our team?


  • To what extent have I co-created a clear vision of our crisis management plan that reinforces how each team member’s work directly contributes to both the team’s and the broader organization’s goals?
  • To what extent do I encourage team members to reflect on the work they are doing and how it impacts our users or clients and the organization?
  • To what extent are we evaluating our impact on our stakeholders?

The use of these questions is not limited to crisis management teams. Feel free to use these questions to spark helpful conversations and assess how your team is progressing and if any adjustments are needed.

At Propulo, our focus has always been on safety culture and operational excellence.


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