True Leadership in a Crisis Begins with Trust

Many companies say that they value their employees, that their workforce is their biggest asset, and that retention of human capital is a key objective. It’s easy to talk when business is good. Yet many companies falter on their good leadership intentions when the tide suddenly turns. Bottom line is; it’s how you treat employees in tough times that define your true company values.

At the core of a sudden business dilemma lies a key question: What makes or breaks that fine line between keeping the business mission and shareholders’ interests within clear view while sticking to your intended moral framework to drive deeper meaning for those who work with you?

At TrustYou our quick leadership decision started days, weeks, or even years before we made it.

An admirable mindset and extraordinary vision starts at the top

It goes back even further than the top management of our company, to the moment we started the business and made decisions on who we want to work with. What kind of people do we align with and make deals with? Do these leaders share the values that we lay down for the business? These are fundamental decisions that may seem trivial for years until disaster strikes. It’s during the worst times that the foundations of a business are exposed. Do the shareholders care about our employees as much as we do? We are happy to say that at TrustYou, they do.

Flexible office hours and work-from-home show respect as standard

Our employee performance strategy has always been based on measuring results instead of measuring the time of day people clock in and out of work. Throughout the years we have found that hiring self-motivated people who love what they do makes it easy to lead and build trust: simply give them a task and leave them to it. Whether they work from the beach, at 4 am, or during the usual office routine, it makes no difference if we get exceptional results. That’s why it was easy for us at TrustYou to work from home before any of our governments made lockdown official.

Being consistently present is more important than being positive all the time

It’s not necessary to pretend. A crisis can lead to trauma for all involved, including leaders. Showing our vulnerability as a leadership team makes us human and can give our teams permission to validate what they are feeling themselves. Having compassion for each other is essential in overcoming deeply-entrenched difficulties. Honesty in our communications is more important than trying to pretend that we have everything under control. Checking in with teams on a daily basis and getting an idea of how they are feeling can do wonders for general morale.

Decide how you frame the situation, own it as if you chose it, and keep moving

Everything is true, depending on the way you look at it. That said, find the most positive way to look at the situation your business is in and regard it as if you chose it. This will immediately shift your mindset into a determined course of action and create top-down momentum that will keep your team motivated. The worst thing you can do in a time of crisis is to stop moving. Even if the whole world comes to a halt, find something, anything, to maintain some sort of flow. Again, hiring a resilient and self-aware team will mitigate the risk of losing engagement.

Simple gestures can go a long way in standing up for those who rely on you

Small acts of kindness do not have to cost anything. Simply checking in with individuals to ask how they are doing, sharing a joke or a smile, all of these things seem so trivial but can be so enriching when all else fails. At TrustYou we had the capacity to send each employee a care package consisting of face masks and hand sanitizer. Not only that, but, besides our company definitely being hit by the crisis, we are able to secure the majority of jobs and, as the executive team, buffer the financial impact to the larger team by reducing our salaries first.

There’s nothing like a crisis to bring to the fore the fundamentals of leadership, which in the end is not about playing big but about standing up for what we believe in as a company and for those who serve our business. Trust builds true reputation over time and that is everything.