Recognize and foster growth during a time of crisis: An application of Propulo production leadership model
By Madison Hanscom, Ph.D.
During a time of hardship, it is easy to forget the recognition and development of your workforce. It might feel like you are trying to survive each day until normalcy is regained. In addition, finances are likely tight, and monetary rewards are out of the question. However, a time of crisis is an opportunity for growth and should not be overlooked. Fortunately, employees appreciate recognition that is not in the form of money, and this can go a long way with morale, job performance, and safety outcomes. Leaders should acknowledge that times are difficult and take the time to reflect on how they will integrate positive, behavior-based, and specific feedback into everyday functioning during a crisis.
Consider the following:
It might be useful to remind yourself that when employees are completing their jobs successfully during difficult circumstances such as a pandemic, this is not business as usual. Even though they are performing their same duties, they are now doing this with added pressures and responsibilities. This deserves positive recognition! Positive feedback is always an extremely effective (and inexpensive) motivational tool, and during a time of crisis it can be even more important to focus on successes and strengths. Remind yourself to deliver positive feedback or recognition to several individuals each day during a time of crisis – even if it is just acknowledging you notice how well they are adapting to a new schedule or protocol.
Expressing appreciation is critical during a hard time, but there might be a circumstance in which constructive feedback is necessary. Times of change often are accompanied by new procedures or responsibilities, and teaching moments might be necessary as these are solidified. If constructive feedback is necessary, ensure it is directed towards the behavior, not the person. For instance, instead of saying “You are being careless by not wearing a face mask” you might try, “Could you please wear your face mask next time?”
Create small wins
Moving toward the goal of recovery is not easy. It is important to keep people motivated during a time when routines have been changed drastically and stress is high. A useful approach is to create small wins. People like to feel as if they are accomplishing something each and every day. This means goal setting is more important than ever, from micro goals (daily, weekly) to more macro goals (monthly, quarterly, yearly). Even though it seems easier to focus on the longer-term goals during a time of crisis, small wins should not be ignored. These help to foster a daily sense of progress, which has been shown to be extremely motivating for employees.
These principles hold true during times of prosperity, crisis, and also the transitional periods in between. Times of change and recovery can be difficult, but by demonstrating these leadership competencies in a consistent manner, leaders can work towards building a successful “new normal”.