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Manage your response to Covid-19

You are priority number one. It is important for everyone to take care of themselves before they attempt taking care of other people. As cliché as it may sound but the “put your mask on first before trying to help the person next to you in a plane” saying, holds true. As individuals we are not of any help to our loved ones, our employer and colleagues, as well as the community when we are affected.

The Covid-19 crisis is like every crisis, unfolding over time with a beginning, middle and an ending. This is highlighted because it is important to distinguish what was, what is and what will be. Positive attitude and thinking are key to understanding that there was/ is chaos and disruption. The next step is knowing that there will be a different state. In the past, before the world was hit by Covid-19 there was stability and predictability. This led us to living a predictable comfort. However, as this pandemic unfolds before our very eyes, some organizations will be resilient. For others, this future will be catastrophic. The actions of executives and their teams now, during this crisis, will significantly determine their fate.

A crisis requires the collective to lead and manage effectively, not just the executive team. The reality of working from home is that there is no-one to make sure that your responsibilities are done. In an organisation during these times the executive team takes over addressing urgent needs of the workforce and managing the work. They need to make immediate choices and allocate resources. The pace is fast, and actions are decisive.

1. Science of reacting calmly

According to research by J Neurosci. 2016 May, the human brain is programmed to narrow its focus in the face of a threat. It’s an evolutionary survival mechanism designed for self-protection. The trap is that the field of vision becomes restricted to the immediate foreground.

This may be a good survival mechanism, but it is not long lasting in situations such as when a country is facing a pandemic. The logic is to stay alive, however as individuals all should be opting for prolonged group or social survival. Health experts and government call for calm because fear is focused on individual survival not that of the collective. Remember the video of the family that got out of their cars at a wildlife park and barely escaped a cheetah attack? The woman was calm because she had a child with her (collective consideration) while the man chose flight (individual survival mechanism).

2.Mental health

The whole world is at a panic and decisions have to be made. Taking away from the scientific reaction of people, then comes the drastic changes – lock down. Your adrenaline will spike as decisions are made and actions are taken. You experience a feeling of adding tangible value as you follow what has been requested from you. However, it is like a sugar high that is quickly followed by a crash.

Living through a crisis requires taking the long view, as opposed to managing the present. You need to anticipate what comes next week, next month, and even next year in order to prepare for the possibility for the changes ahead.

3.Forgetting the Human Factors

While it may seem obvious, crises are crises because they affect people. However, newly home working employees can instead become trapped by focusing on economic side effects of it. These are important, but they are the outcome of the coordinated efforts of people. Organisations exist in order to accomplish together things that individuals cannot do alone.

“The solution is to unite people in their efforts and goals as valued members of a cohesive team. This starts with a common, clearly articulated mission that infuses the work with purpose. The mission is then animated through an inclusive leadership approach where each person understands how they can contribute—and that their contribution is recognized. This gives deeper meaning to even the most menial tasks.” –  Eric J. McNulty and Leonard Marcus Harvard Business Review.

It has been said before by health experts and government, we all need to remain calm and approach the situation with wit.