5 things to do to remain effective during a crisis

Continuing this week’s theme of performing well during a crisis, we now turn our attention to you…. the beleaguered and battered manager.

On Monday we looked at the things you need to do to have a team that’s ready and able to step up to the plate. On Wednesday, we looked at the importance of picking decision making approaches right for the context you’re working in. And now, on Friday, we’re looking at the care you give yourself.

If you’ve ever flown on a plane, you’ll be aware of the pre-flight demonstration and the bit where they say “Put your own oxygen mask on first, before looking after others”. This is a good analogy for managing yourself during a crisis.

You are no good to anyone if you are on your knees, making yourself ill.

More than anything, you can’t hope to make effective decisions or respond appropriately if you’ve burnt out.

I speak from experience, where during one particular crisis I worked for 30 hours straight, without any sleep at all. I became really ill (developed bronchitis) but continued to work crazy hours for another four weeks. It took me a long time to shake off the resultant chest problems and get my health and fitness back.

So, here are my five tips to help you keep going during a prolonged emergency situation:

#1 Get some rest: Even 90 minutes of shut-eye can make a difference. If you live too far away from the area you’re working in, your organisation should really lay on somewhere for staff to get rest and respite. As well as a bit of sleep, make sure to stretch your legs and go for a walk (ideally on your own) – even if just for 10 minutes. You can always have your phone with you.

#2 Eat regularly: If your blood sugar drops then you’re more likely to get cranky, struggle to think clearly and make flawed decisions. I’m not a big fan of the macho ‘lunch is for wimps’ approach. Eat something and make sure your team are too!

#3 Keep hydrated: I know I’m in danger of sounding like some health and diet blogger but hydration is massively important for your brain. So, in order for you to remain clear headed, cool, calm and collected, keep chugging that H2O.

#4 Have a notebook just for actions relating to the emergency: I cannot tell you enough how this helped me every time I had a major emergency to deal with. Not only does this keep your actions all in one place, it helps you keep track and can also be used for audit post-emergency. You might prefer to use your smartphone or laptop. Ultimately, what you use is up to you although I always found it powerful to write things down in pen.

#5 Allow your team to step up: You most likely have team members who are keen, capable and can step up. Let them. The biggest mistake I made, from my first emergency, was trying to do it all myself. What a difference it made when I let team members help! Key is to get out of their way and not interfere! You either trust them to take some stuff of your hands or you don’t. There is no half-way house.

What are your tips for staying on your A-game during a prolonged crisis situation? Why not share your advice so others can benefit?


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