"As I walked my dogs down the street yesterday it was a very strange feeling, people walking on the road to avoid me, very few if any cars, but people were friendly, but you could tell some were nervous.

In times of crisis your leadership will be tested, and your people expect you to step up to help them to feel safe. So firstly, what can you do to look after yourself?  If you are not looking after yourself then you can’t look after anyone else.

  1. Understand how you are feeling – not Thinking – feeling and have an outlet to share this with. It could be a colleague, your partner, a friend, but it is important you have someone you can talk to regularly.
  2. Try and keep to as much of your routine as you can, get exercise even if it is a walk around your street. If you used to go to the gym, be creative and find things at home you can use for weights.
  3. Eat well and try to get more sleep.
  4. Think about ways to ‘De-Covid’, tune out, try a mindfulness app (headspace or the free app smiling mind), try some Tai Chi on you tube – here is the guy I go to Tai Chi with who I am now seeing virtually https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iO5_UrMUmQ.

Put your phone away at a certain time and stop listening to the news. Find another hobby or something else to watch.

What your team need from you?

Calm - Your team need you to demonstrate calmness during a turbulent time. If you are panicking and all over the place that will raise their anxiety.

Listening – Your team will have concerns, they want to know that you are not only listening to them, they want you to demonstrate that you are listening to them by you repeating back to them and showing it in your actions.

Communication – They want to see honest and authentic communication, not policies and procedures. Share what you are going through – some humility goes along way.  Try to ensure you communicate at least daily to everyone in your team, and if you are the CEO/GM everyone in the business.

If everyone doesn’t have a company email address, get their personal emails – communication from the top, regularly, will help people through this.

Fun & Connection – Have a bit of fun, keep spirits up, humour is a great way to reduce stress

Act with Compassion – You may have to make some tough choices, people maybe laid off, or take reduced hours. As a leader you are there to make these tough calls for the good of your whole business, so make the call but be very cognisant of the impact it will have on your people and that you ensure you do what you can to help people understand why you have had to make the call and what you will do to help people.

Don’t just share policy with them, this is an unusual situation so will most likely not be in your policy. If you have isolated someone, for no fault of their own, who could otherwise come to work and you are asking them to take annual leave, is this fair and compassionate?  Remember that what you do in a crisis and how you treat people will stay with them; they will reward you for treating them well and for compassionate leadership, they will reward you with a lack of engagement otherwise.

Take care through this time, I wish you well and if you need any support please contact myself or Liz May at ShopCare (Liz@shopcare.org.nz) who can help you through this crisis."



By Gerry Lynch, CEO at Delmaine Fine Foods