How to Bring Teams Together During Crisis
Crisis is a journey of transformation.
During crisis you and your organization change or die.
Meetings during tough times:
Successful meetings create focus and increase energy.
- Reconnect with purpose. Your purpose is bringing value to your customers, not saving the ship. Invite a client you’ve served to the meeting. Listen to their story and reconnect with your purpose. Make it personal, more than informational.
- Make it hurt. Pull no punches. What happens to your clients if you fail?
- Define the crisis. Embrace the darkness by asking everyone to explaining the worst that could happen. Describe how everyone’s life will change if you fail. It’s silly to dance around a burning house.
- Express realistic optimism. Let everyone know how important they are, if they grab the rope and pull.
- Talk more about what you can control than what you can’t. Crisis has many components you can’t control. Listen to problems, doubts, and fears. Then say, “I hear what we can’t do. What can we do?”
- Assign responsibilities to everyone in the room, everyone. They shouldn’t be at the table, if they aren’t making it better.
- Write assignments on the whiteboard along with the name of the responsible person.
- Cross off assignments as soon as they’re completed, along with the date. Make progress visible.
- Give new assignments after old are completed. Keep the whiteboard-list going.
- Pour energy into those who make positive contributions. Minimize dead-weight.
Bonus: Celebrate wins and talk about next steps at the same time.
- We need each other, not I need you.
- It’s not about us. It’s about the people we serve.
- I’ve seen us rise to challenges in the past. Tell stories of people who faced challenges in the past. Focus on their work and sacrifice more than the win.
Use “we” more than “me.”
What suggestions do you have for running meetings during crisis?
Good stuff and to the point. Not every crisis is live or die and explaining some difficulty in the framework of a crisis is useful in most every case — creating cognitive dissonance around that gap between current reality (not really known by most people in the organization) and the goal (not really known by most people in the organization). Simply clarifying those anchor points is very useful in creating the motivation to deal with the necessary transformation.
It does not have to be life or death to generate and manage the process of innovation and change; that is but one point on the curve.
And those bullets go after what most organizations should be striving for: generating engagement and involvement with desired expectations and goals and commitments to generate behavior change.
Rock and roll!
Thanks Dr. Scott. It’s great that you introduce the “gap” in this conversation. It’s essential to navigating challenges. I completely agree that most people don’t really know the current reality or the goal. Successful leaders make these things crystal clear.
Dan, Its not what you say it is what you do. O have heard the we are going to change and things start out onfire and at some point things just flop. Magor key is to maintain the path and continue what was started constantly. We may never establish perfect Organization but a balance can be developed.
Thanks Tim. I hear you saying that grit and focus are necessary. Keep at it! 🙂
Yes exactly Kapow as you so often referenced
Dan this is great, but I can’t agree with section 1 “Invite a client you’ve served to the meeting. Listen to their story and reconnect with your purpose”. Most (essentially all) the clients I have wouldn’t have the remotest interst in doing this. To them, you are (as Carl Weathers said in Predator) “…An expendable asset. And I used you to get the job done…” They don’t want to depend on you.
Thanks Mitch. It looks like #1, as I wrote it, won’t work in your world. I wonder if bringing in a vendor or retired employee who had benefited from your organization would work?
Sorry caught the “post” button by accident. A client in that position is either going to run for the hills seeing you as a basket case, or see you as a target, ripe to commit managerial larceny on.
I’m thankful you joined the conversation.
Great points. These all unify, ignite and encourage purpose during the bleak times. Making it personal creates an atmosphere of loyalty because it is no longer a removed mentality of “he/she/they/it goes down”, now it is “we go down.” This mentality is sure to lead to more passion, unity and focus to prevent the “we” from “going down.”
Thanks Christamroszczak. Finding and using the “we” seems especially important. You reminded me of the saying that we will all stand together or we will go down alone. (not sure of the exact wording)
Great points Dan.I believe to some extent a crisis can be averted or mitigated if the leader in the begining explains each & everything of the task/project (hard but can) in a crystal way to team members and also give time limit for its completion and most importantly provide support to the team members during this time. From here can continue with your points no 7 to 9.
Thanks Sultan. I see your suggestion as particularly valuable when time is very short. Cheers.
This is great conversation. The crisis that pops into my mind that utterly transformed my own career in so many ways happened on 9/11/2001. It completely changed how we did business, and (for better or for worse) got us focused on things we didn’t give a second thought to just the day before. We weren’t prepared at all. Talk about having to “embrace the darkness”…
Purpose is the key here Dan, and I was delighted to see it was the first point. Personal reminders of why is critical before the what and who.
Dan, Great post! The issue that I see most often is that during a crisis people focus on all the things that are wrong. While we have to acknowledge the facts around the situation, the team quickly needs to move toward what can be done. Focusing on solutions and asking what the team can do to address the challenge is a critical first step.
I enjoy your column very much! You might have already covered these ideas , everyone should bring an idea with them and do these meetings need to be on a regular basis ? Thanks