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News| How To Lead A Team Through Tough Times

When the going gets tough, people need leadership more than ever. Of course, this puts a lot of pressure on anyone in a management role – especially if the outlook is uncertain.

While you can’t predict the future, you can keep your team calm and motivated. That is, if you have the right skills in your toolkit…

Whether you’ve recently made the transition from colleague to manager, or you’re struggling to lead effectively in an uncertain and potentially remote environment, we have a few valuable tips to help. Read on to discover how to minimise the strain when taking your team through difficult times.


It sounds obvious, but this is actually where many leaders fall short. In fact, research from Microsoft has revealed that 34% of staff within small businesses cite communication failure as their main cause of stress.

When you’re unsure about a situation yourself, it’s tempting to delay a team update on what’s happening. But keeping them in the dark can trigger anxiety. Even if you have to deliver bad news, or admit that you’re uncertain about the future, it will provide them with better peace of mind than not informing them at all.

Communication ultimately has a huge impact on staff motivation, particularly in the face of adversity. So hold frequent team talks – not just work catch-ups, but social events too. Encourage people to speak amongst themselves. And don’t forget to praise achievements both big and small; in times of hardship, it’s always good to find things to celebrate.

Think ahead

The same survey from Microsoft also stated that only 17% of employees felt their employer had a clear vision or goal. Whilst a situation may be uncertain, you should use the information you do have available to put together a vision for the future. When relaying this to staff, you can show them how you’ll move forward – something which they can work towards collectively. You’ll find it unites the team for the better.

Working towards a vision will stop you from making knee-jerk reactions and keep yourself focused too. So take a step back, look at the situation from a rational perspective, and you’ll gain the clarity to produce a more accurate vision. If you’re not seen to be panicking, team members will have more confidence in your abilities to handle the situation and make the right decisions. A calm approach will encourage them to follow suit as well.


Not panicking is easier said than done when you’re trying to handle a difficult situation all by yourself. So involve your team! If you delegate and allow them to share their ideas and thoughts, you’ll be relieved of some of the burden. Plus, you might even find that their input has a great impact.

Make the effort to ask people how things are going, and what they think should be done. Surprisingly, a global study carried out by Qualtrics and SAP found that almost 40% of employees hadn’t actually been asked this by their employer. Listening to what your team has to say will not only generate new ideas, it will also make them feel valued.

You need to make it completely clear that you’re available for your staff to talk to – and about a range of topics, like their mental health. It’s a good idea to ask for their opinions on how you’re managing things too. Even if the feedback is negative, you can act on it to improve your leadership.

Looking to level up?

Communication, forward thinking, and collaboration are crucial if you want to get your team through difficulties. But if you’re struggling, it might be time to invest in your own development.

Our ILM Level 2 Award in Leadership and Team Skills will help you build stronger teams, lead them confidently and effectively, and coach individuals in order to get the most out of them.

We currently offer this two-day course virtually. To find out more, head over to our page.

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