Leading in Crisis

How To Lead With Empathy In A Crisis

Table of Contents

2020 has been a year of total transformation on many levels. We’ve seen groups come together to support incredible causes like racial equality and ending police brutality, and we’ve seen the medical community unite in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been a time where many of us have had to totally reimagine our day-to-day lives as we moved towards widespread remote work and adjusted to city closures. And while we’ve made progress, there’s still work to be done.

All this is happening while many of us are working, either part-time or full time, and mostly from home. This is in stark contrast to the busy lives many of us were leading before quarantine. On top of that, many of us are leading teams. In such an uncertain time, this is the ultimate challenge. And this got us wondering: are there a basic set of guidelines that leaders need to be following during a crisis? How can we make sure leaders stay connected and empathetic, while still looking out for the good of the business? Tools like Hive, Zoom, and Slack are critical to business’ success during these times, but we wanted to take a closer look at tips from real leaders. We have quite a few incredible leaders at Hive, so we tapped a few of Hive’s senior staff to give us some of their insight. Here’s what they had to say.

Keep an Even Keel

“As a sales leader, especially in this climate, you need to roll with the ups and downs while maintaining composure. It’s important that your team sees you as a guiding light and a positive influence, and that means keeping an even keel at all times, especially when things are tough.” – Alex German, VP of Sales

Limit Change

“Make internal change only when absolutely necessary: people are getting used to a new normal, and dealing with an amount of change that you might not even understand. Determine if it’s essential to make a change to an internal process right now, or wait a bit. Focus on only moving ahead with what’s essential.” – Erin Gouveia, VP of Customer Success

Give Your Employees Space

“It’s critical to take time and give space to your employees to speak about current events. As a leader, it’s often your job just to listen — right now that’s more important than ever. I’ve been really trying to take time to understand different perspectives and give everyone space to process as they need.” – Varun Sudhakar, VP of Finance and Strategy

Positive Mindset = Positive Results

“With sales, it’s often all about your mindset. Because there are a lot of factors out of your control, especially in times like these, it’s important to focus on what is IN your control. It’s critical to stay positive throughout the month, even when sales are slow, because that positive attitude will eventually usher in positive results. One way I do this is through our Gong Bot in Hive, which sends a notification out to the whole company when someone closes a deal. It’s a great opportunity to take the time to congratulate someone for their hard work, and reinforce that positive attitude.” – Alex German

Make Sure To Stay Empathetic, But Results Driven 

“When you lead a team, you have to understand how to empathize and relate to your direct reports. Remember that you’re all part of the sales and larger organization together, and learning how to work individually with each person, help manage their stress, and collaborate is key. While it’s important to maintain high levels of understanding and empathy, you also need to stay focused on the results — that’s in everyone’s best interest. It’s on you to maintain that macro-level view of performance. One way I do this is by setting recurring tasks in Hive to remind me to check-in on specific numbers or stats in Salesforce on a daily basis. These reminders in Hive are absolutely critical for me.” – Alex German

Stay on Schedule

“It’s tempting to throw regularly scheduled programming out the window during times of crisis. Especially now that Hive is entirely remote, it’s been more important than ever to keep a schedule with your team. I do my best to encourage that everyone abides by the weekly schedules we set, which means keeping weekly 1:1’s and check-ins, which I prep for with Hive Notes and Hive’s Zoom integration, trying to stick to working hours, and setting boundaries when necessary.” – Varun Sudhakar

It’s All About The Wins

“Focus on the wins more now than ever — there’s still opportunity to ‘win’ both internally and with customers, and while a crisis can put that in a whole new perspective, make sure you utilize the opportunity to share wins across the team and the larger organization.” – Erin Gouveia

Earn The Trust Of Your Team, Go To Battle With Them

“Just because you’re the ‘boss,’ doesn’t mean you’re above doing the tough work in battle with your team. As a leader, it’s important to show that you’re available to guide, drive and motivate them. Be open to having personal conversations with people about the headspace they’re in and ask how you can provide support. It’ll go a long way.” – Alex German

Stay Customer Focused

“Ensure customers know you are there for the FULL customer journey, both upturns and downturns (very crucial in the current environment). We are here to serve our customers and it is important they know that — we should listen to their concerns, be empathetic, and work with them in these times to ensure that customers know we are here during the tough times and want them to succeed. Customers will remember those who were with them when things weren’t great, which is important when you’re in this for the long-term, even if it doesn’t result in an immediate revenue uplift.” – Varun Sudhakar

Coach and Stay Involved

“I’m big on involvement in my team’s deals and professional life. I want to provide all the resources that I can to my team, showing them that I’m here to coach and mentor them. When your team knows you’ve got their back and are there for support, everyone will work harder. I make sure to stay connected to my team via Hive and Hive messages every day. We also have a Hive Sales group where we communicate, collaborate and share stories.” – Alex German

These are just a few nuggets of insight from the Hive team. While it’s important to abide by some basic principles while leading a team during this time, remember that everyone is different. What works for one direct report might not work for another, and you’re not always going to have the right answers. Remember to cut yourself a break, you deserve it.

Do you have any tips for leading during times of crisis? Let us know in the comments below.

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