Summary: Coronavirus Leadership and Recovery: The Insights You Need by HBR
Summary: Coronavirus Leadership and Recovery: The Insights You Need by HBR

Summary: Coronavirus Leadership and Recovery: The Insights You Need by HBR

Coronavirus: Leadership and Recovery provides you with essential thinking about managing your company through the pandemic, keeping your employees (and yourself) healthy and productive, and spurring your business to continue innovating and reinventing itself ahead of the recovery.


Insight #1 Four behaviors that help leaders manage a crisis

Coronavirus is challenging leaders in turbulent times where they have yet to test their leadership muscles. Many are seeing a drastic change in their scope of work, especially when it comes to coaching and learning new skills on the fly. Leaders must

  1. Decide with speed or precision
  2. Adapt to changing circumstances boldly
  3. Reliably deliver despite environmental factors
  4. Engage deeply with their teams


Insight #2 Companies legal obligations around coronavirus

Having adequate policies and response plans in the palace related to the virus can prevent your business from HR-related legal concerns, including those surrounding worker’s compensation, invasion of privacy and discrimnation. Here are eight steps you can take:

  1. Stay informed
  2. Intensifying communication and hygiene
  3. Consider restrictions on returning to work
  4. Be mindful of an employer’s duty of care
  5. Evaluate leave and pay
  6. Alleviate stress and anxiety
  7. Protect privacy
  8. Plan for a worst-case scenario


Insight #3 Real leaders are forged in crisis

As the virus tears its way through country after country, town after town, neighborhood after neighborhood, it leaves a trail of lessons we can learn from history’s iconic leaders like Lincoln, Churchill, Kennedy, FDR and others who acted in the face of equally challenging situations. In the midst of the crisis, these leaders were able to

  1. Acknowledge people’s fears, then encourage them with resolve.
  2. Give people a role and a purpose.
  3. Encourage experimentation and learning.
  4. Manage their own and other’s energy emotions.


Insight #4 Concerns surrounding the remote work

Remote work is now our reality. It’s up to us to make the best of this sudden shift by changing the ways we approach work. Here are some tips to be productive at home:

  1. Create a positive remote work culture b giving everyone an equal airtime
  2. Gauge your team productivity by giving them tasks and reviewing the outcomes
  3. Raise only one or two complex topics in any virtual meeting (it’s harder to diffuse tension remotely than in person)


Insight #5 Managing layoffs with compassion

Laying off employees is difficult enough in normal times, but amidst the global pandemic, the task may be emotionally overwhelming. Following a few important practices can help you minimize these emotions:

  1. Even if you deliver the message remotely, take extra care to break the news with empathy and compassion.
  2. Offer a short explanation about the circumstances that led to the layoff. Stress that the dismissal isn’t the employee’s fault. Rather, it’s the result of external circumstances none of you created.
  3. Don’t over commit. Provide support and counsel but don’t promise things you can’t deliver.
  4. Don’t make the situation about you, even if there are chances you could lose your job too.


Insight #6 Managing positives in employees

When one of your employees is tested positive for the virus, it is this moment that calls for sensitivity and humanity while acting quickly as a manager.

  1. Express empathy to your employee and identify those he or she had contact with.
  2. Connect with your HR partner for guidance.
  3. Inform those at risk by phone or video.
  4. Don’t speculate. If you’re in doubt, don’t answer. Encourage them to talk to their doctor.
  5. Respect the confidentiality of the employee and of the close contacts.
  6. Encourage senior leaders to check in with the employee. 


Insight #7 How retailers are keeping workers safe

Studying the longtime practices and values of a group of model retailers (such as Costco, Mercadona, H-E-B) can help companies ride out the storm.

  1. Focus and simplify to reduce workloads.
  2. Adopt clear safety standards.
  3. Empower employees to continuously improve.
  4. Operate with slack.
  5. Show respect.
  6. Prioritize customers and employees over shareholders.


Insight #8 Managing stress when the sky is falling

While you don’t have control over the external forces, you do have absolute control over your mind and how you respond to them.

  1. Breathe. It begins when you wake up. Start with one long deep breath, set your intention for the day, and take a moment to really feel your feet on the floor.
  2. Eat and sleep well. Establish a regular circadian rhythm. The healthier we eat, the less we’re prone to infections.
  3. Create connections. Separation doesn’t mean you have to be isolated from others. Tell people how valuable they’re to you. Send messages of praise to your coworkers. Let your family know how much you love them.
  4. Find purpose. You get to decide the story you tell yourself. When you’ve an orientation toward some purpose beyond yourself, it will make you more resilient in the face of challenges.


Insight #9 Three tips to avoid WFH burnout

The blurring of the boundaries between work and personal time during WFH periods can eventually lead to burnout. “How can we leave our work at the door?” if we’re no longer going out the door?

  1. Maintain physical and social boundaries. Putting your work clothes and commuting are physical and social indicators to your mind that something has changed. Dress for the workday and consider replacing your commute with a walk.
  2. Maintain boundaries on how you use your time. Use an ‘out of office’ reply to messages during certain hours of the day to allow you periods of uninterrupted work.
  3. Focus on your most important work. While working from home, people often feel compelled to project the appearance of productivity, which may lead them to work on tasks that are more immediate instead of more important. Devote your energy to top-priority issues.


Insight #10 That discomfort you’re feeling is grief

Beyond fear of illness and loss of life, there’s a loss of normalcy, the fear of economic toll, the loss of connection amidst the global pandemic.

  1. Allow yourself to feel the emotions. Fighting grief doesn’t help.
  2. When your mind dwells on worst-case scenarios, your goal should be to intentionally balance them with thoughts about best-case scenarios. 
  3. Biring yourself into the present, let go of what you can’t control and stock up on compassion.


Insight #11 Building customer relationships that outlast the virus

Businesses must aim to preserve customer relationships at a time when uncertainty bounds and social distancing has forced storefronts to close. Use the HEART framework to communicate with your customers.

  1. Humanize your company. Let your customers know you care than simply reaping profits.
  2. Educate about change. Tell them all the changes surrounding your business operations.
  3. Assure stability. Communicate how you continue to provide essentials to customers.
  4. Revolutionize offerings. Tell them you’re serving them in new ways. Reach out to potential customers you can serve. Find new problems you can solve.
  5. Tackle the future. Establish a timeline for when you can cascade changes to every aspect of your business.


Insight #12 Understanding the economic shock of the virus

Predicting the path ahead is nearly impossible. We simply don’t know multiple dimensions of this unprecedented crisis. 

  1. Pressing questions include what path the shock and recovery will take, whether the economy will return to its preshock output levels and growth rates and whether there will be a structural legacy from the criss.
  2. No single shock scenario will be inevitable, linear or uniform across geographies. Countries will experience recovery differently  based on how their medical experts and policy makers respond in new ways to these challenges.


Insight #13 The future of labor protections after the virus

The global pandemic has taken a toll on almost everyone, but low-wage workers were hit the hardest.

  1. During bull markets, employers often paint the hardships befalling low-wage workers as stemming from those workers’ personal diaries. But when the bear markets come, we learn how the workers’ troubles were indicative of persistent, system-wide weakness.
  2. The pandemic is an opportunity to improve employee protections permanently. Sick leave and health care should be universal rights and a ‘flexicurity’ labor policy could provide both flexibility for employees to hire and fire workers as needed and security for workers through generous benefits and retaining opportunities during unemployment.


Insight #14 We need imagination now more than ever

Many businesses that are struggling right now will find a second life after the crisis. Envisioning the better future may seem like a pure imagination but it’s actually a necessity to build future success.

  1. Carve out time for reflection. Switch from fight-or-flight mode to rest-and-reflect mode.
  2. Ask active and open-ended questions. Reach beyond what’s obvious and explore fresh perspectives.
  3. Allow yourself to be playful. Let go of the regular goal-driven approach.
  4. Set up a system for sharing ideas. Facilitate collective imagination. Let ideas evolve and spread by bridging people.
  5. Seek out anomalies. Look externally to solve new problems. Imation is often triggered by surprising inputs.
  6. Encourage experimentation. Diversity makes our natural systems more resilient.
  7. Stay hopeful. Avoid a fatalistic or passive mindset. Imagination feeds off aspirations that propel us to seek a better reality.