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Leading through uncertain times – how to be a leader through the COVID-19 response

Leading through uncertain times – how to be a leader through the COVID-19 response

How can leaders make things feel as normal as possible to support ‘business as usual’ when we’re certainly not in a ‘business as usual’ environment?

 

So here we are at the beginning of a seismic disruption to workplaces all around the world with the COVID-19 response. Organisations are shifting the way they’re doing businesses, some are closing temporarily, others are mandating their people to work from home, and some are doing both.

This is a challenge for leaders. How can leaders make things feel as normal as possible to support ‘business as usual’ when we’re certainly not in a ‘business as usual’ environment?

The US military coined the acronym ‘VUCA’ to describe times of rapid and unpredictable change that are Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. VUCA can be used to explore the challenges surrounding the COVID-19 landscape and can double as a simple catch all summary for “Everything is going completely NUTS out there!”

It can also serve as a very useful frame for how leaders should and should not respond at this time as leaders can often display the VUCA characteristics in their own leadership style. This is even more detrimental in the current landscape.

Mertz (2014) gives leaders some tips on leading through VUCA times through the acronym DURT – being Direct, Understandable, Reliable and Trustworthy.

How you can apply this in a COVID-19 response environment :

Be Direct – Give your people the facts. What does the current situation mean for your business and the work your people are doing? How can you do this with kindness and compassion?

Be Understandable – Create a clear context and give clear messaging. Break down messages for your workforce in terms of what your plans mean for them in their role. If you have people in your organisation with English as a second language, or with literacy challenges, make sure your communications are delivered in formats and language that can be understood by them. Consider all communication formats, don’t just rely on email. Try WhatsApp groups, or communicate through video messages for more personalised communication.

Be Reliable – Ensure people can count on you. Workforces are looking at their leaders for direction and reassurance. Do what you said you’d do, or be straight about why the situation has had to change.

Be Trustworthy – No leader, politician or health care professional has a crystal ball to see the future and what the impact of COVID-19 will be. As much as we all crave certainty, acknowledge that situations are changing daily and be straight and compassionate.

Also, leaders need to look out for their wellbeing and that of their people. This can be challenging when we are feeling the impacts of the COVID-19 response, not just at work, but at home and in the wider community. So, don’t forget to be kind to yourself, and others.

REFERENCES:

VUCA Times Call for DURT Leaders

https://www.thindifference.com/2014/05/vuca-times-call-durt-leaders/

Additional information for employers

Here’s some additional information from Safe Work Australia on when employers can direct employees to stay away from their usual workplace under workplace health and safety laws.

Safe Work Australia has information about when an employer can direct employees to stay away from their usual workplace under the model workplace health and safety laws.

More information:

Want to elevate your leadership capacity?

Safety Dimensions offers accredited and non-accredited leadership training for emerging leaders. Through our training, you’ll learn how to effectively communicate, set clear priorities, build team cohesiveness and implement operational plans and continuous improvement.

Want this program customised for your workplace and industry?
Call 1300 453 555 or email info@safetydimensions.com.au

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Why sleep is your superpower

Why sleep is your superpower

Are you and your workers skimping on sleep?

It’s been proven that sleep deprivation not only means poorer performance, productivity and safety outcomes, but has an impact on our physical health.

Researchers found workers losing just 16 minutes of sleep (from the 7-9 hours a night recommended) showed a difference between a clear-headed day at work or one filled with distractions.

At the point of sleep deprivation (less than 6.5 hours a night) the likelihood of a workplace accident increases by 70%.

In this deep dive TED Talk into the science of slumber, Matt Walker shares the good things that happen when you get good sleep — and the alarmingly bad things that happen when you don’t (with some surprising insights for men) on both your brain and body.

This includes sleep’s impact on your learning, memory, immune system and even your genetic code — as well as some helpful tips for getting some shut-eye.

 


Sources

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190423133605.htm
https://www.americansafetycouncil.com/content/osha-10-safety/


Need to get your people focused on all aspects of safety?

Download the Safety Leadership Foundation Program course outline or call us on 1300 453 555.

Learn More About Our Foundational Safety Leadership Program

Focusing on shifting individual attitudes and mindsets regarding how safety is viewed in the workplace, this program also teaches new skills and knowledge to embed behaviour change at an individual and organisational level.

To find out how we can customise this program for your needs call us on 1300 453 555.

Want to transform your organisation's safety culture?

Download Course OutlinesSafety Dimensions offers accredited and non-accredited leadership training for leaders, safety professionals and employees to support organisations to effectively deal with safety performance challenges.

We can train anywhere in Australia and our programs can be customised for your workplace and industry. Download our program guide.

Call 1300 453 555 or email info@safetydimensions.com.au

From our blog

The link between WHS & your bottom line

The link between WHS & your bottom line

Evidence shows that organisations who invest in health and safety culture have a competitive advantage.

A study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine looked at the financial growth of public companies that scored highly in the Corporate Health Achievement Award (CHAA) nominations. The CHAA awards recognise the healthiest, safest companies and organisations in North America and aim to raise awareness of best practices in workplace health and safety programs.1

As part of their application for the awards, organisations presented trend data showing a reduction of health risk, health-cost savings, or other impact on the business as a result of their safety, wellness, and health programs as well as their leadership and management culture.

Using this data, researchers took the top 17 performing companies and created stock market investment scenario, analysing the period spanning 2001 to 2014, using a hypothetical investment of $10,000.

The results?

Companies who did well in health and safety performance achieved a 333% return, compared to the stock market (S&P 500 index) return of 105% during the same period.

Even in the lowest-performing scenario, the CHAA companies achieved a 204% return, compared to an S&P return of 105% during the same period.

This research may have also identified an association between companies that focus on health and safety and companies that manage other aspects of their business equally well.

The modelling suggests that organisation that invested significantly in health and safety programs can outperform other companies in the marketplace.


REFERENCE:
Tracking the Market Performance of Companies That Integrate a Culture of Health and Safety: An Assessment of Corporate Health Achievement Award Applicants. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. January 2016 – Volume 58 – Issue 1 – p 3–8 doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000638.

Learn More About Our Foundational Safety Leadership Program

Focusing on shifting individual attitudes and mindsets regarding how safety is viewed in the workplace, this program also teaches new skills and knowledge to embed behaviour change at an individual and organisational level.

To find out how we can customise this program for your needs call us on 1300 453 555.

Want to transform your organisation's safety culture?

Download Course OutlinesSafety Dimensions offers accredited and non-accredited leadership training for leaders, safety professionals and employees to support organisations to effectively deal with safety performance challenges.

We can train anywhere in Australia and our programs can be customised for your workplace and industry. Download our program guide.

Call 1300 453 555 or email info@safetydimensions.com.au

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WHS Learner Profile – Kevin Walker

WHS Learner Profile – Kevin Walker

Kevin Walker undertook the BSB41415 Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety*, a nationally recognised qualification which trained him to identify hazards in the workplace, assist with responding to incidents, assess and control risk, and consult on work health and...

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Safety programs needs hearts and minds to succeed

Safety programs needs hearts and minds to succeed

One of the most difficult things about creating a strong safety culture is engaging the hearts and minds of everyone in your organisation to take ownership of safety – regardless of their title or job function.

Even with excellent systems and processes and an understanding your legal obligations – as behavioural specialists – we know if people really don’t perceive their actions could cause harm, changing their behaviour is very hard.

In addition to great systems and processes, whether in the Learning and Development area or Safety, you need to focus on 4 areas to shift safety culture, or implement any change process. These are 4 vital areas that underpin any attempt to shift behaviour.

They are:

Without your organisation having these 4 areas working together to engage the hearts and minds of supervisors, managers and leaders – they will say the same thing over and over, and incidents will keep repeating over and over. Neglecting any of those 4 areas is at best case, a recipe for frustration and fear – and in the worst case could lead to injuries and potential fatalities.

Think about the statements below – are they being driven by Values, Beliefs, Mindset or Attitude?

  • It won’t happen to me?
  • It will be quicker to do it this way?
  • I will get in trouble if I stop
  • I’ve always done it this way
  • Wrap me in bubble wrap why don’t you
  • Someone else will handle what I just saw
  • Phew! close call but we got there

It’s almost guaranteed that if you have put all the tools and systems in place and you’re not getting improvements in your safety/ leadership culture or safety statistics – then it’s a failure for your organisation to engage Values + Beliefs + Mindset + Attitude.

There is also one more critical factor that supports this – role modelling.
If as a leader, you don’t embody the attributes that you want to see in your people and ‘walk the talk’ – changing others is impossible.

Thankfully shifting VBMA’s, (and therefore Hearts and Minds) doesn’t have to be difficult – it can be done en-masse with a well-structured training program.

It is because of this understanding we work with leaders on the Hearts and Minds before cascading any safety leadership program throughout an organisation.

To find out more about a bespoke Hearts and Minds program tailored to your organisation’s challenges and potential click contact us here.

Ready To Engage Hearts & Minds?

Learn More About Our Foundational Behavioral Safety Program

Focusing on shifting individual attitudes and mindsets regarding how safety is viewed in the workplace,
this program also teaches new skills and knowledge to embed behaviour change at an individual and organisational level.

Find out more and download the course outline below or call us on 1300 453 555.

Download Course Outlines

More from our blog

WHS Learner Profile – Kevin Walker

WHS Learner Profile – Kevin Walker

Kevin Walker undertook the BSB41415 Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety*, a nationally recognised qualification which trained him to identify hazards in the workplace, assist with responding to incidents, assess and control risk, and consult on work health and...

read more