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My View: 4 managers share their tips on leading through challenging times

While many of us had hoped the new year would bring us closer to a pre-pandemic ‘normal’, the first month of 2022 has seen a continuation of the challenges managers have been facing for two years.  

Challenging times are hard on everyone, and for many managers it can be difficult to find ways to raise your team morale to ensure your staff stay engaged and motivated to achieving their goals. 

We asked 4 Members to share their top tips on how they lead to maintain the momentum. 

Bruce Murphy CMgr MIML  
Head of Marketing, Graphic Communications Services  
FUJIFILM Business Innovation Australia 

Resist the urge to tell your team what they should be doing to improve the situation. Instead, facilitate a discussion to identify root causes of those challenges and develop countermeasures that focus mainly on areas that you can either control or at least influence. Involving the team in coming up with the solution allows you to tap onto their strengths and create buy-in.   

Have regular communication sessions with your team to keep them abreast of what is happening and to help ensure that what they are working on is aligned to the goals of the organisation. Be sure to let them know that you are available to support them, while giving them space to develop and grow.  

Show empathy for your staff, as they too may be going through challenging times. Simple gestures like providing them flexibility with timelines or working hours can go a long way but are often overlooked.   

Mumtaz Parker CMgr FIML 
Training Development Manager 
Water New Zealand 

I always say that as a manager we have the privilege of leading others. One tip is to lead by example – asking yourself constantly what kind of role model you want to be to your team. What do I represent? Leading by example does not only mean walking the talk, but also having the ability and bravery to take a step back, self-reflect and take care of yourself. You can only help others if you help yourself first. I always think about the safety video when on an airplane. First put on your oxygen mask before assisting others with theirs. These are challenging times that we are all faced with. How we manage and navigate through these challenging times is what people will remember. It is also important to remember some of the core and important aspects of leadership such as empathy, understanding, open two-way communication, listening, trust and transparency. Most importantly, give yourself a pat on the back for leading your team and yourself through these challenging times. 

Jacob Waitere CMgr MIML 
Iwi (Tribe) – Te Ātiawa, Waikato, Ngāti Hāua 
General Manager Portfolio 

My top tip for managing through challenging times is to set the scene with your team. Acknowledge that you are all working through a tough time, that the team is together and send out positive vibes. Now is the time to keep communication open, consistent, and frequent. Especially if you are working remotely. Share the information you have, be transparent, lead through storytelling. It is easy to ‘should’ on people. For example, “you should go for a walk”, “you should have less screen time”. Don’t should on your colleagues, just set the direction, vision and be present in the moment. Challenging times are the opportunity to look deep into the storm, take a breath and navigate your way through, one action at a time. 

Sonia Stichbury CMgr MIML 
Business Manager 
Holy Spirit College 

When facing challenging times in leadership, I focus my energy on embracing change, understanding my team’s concerns and capabilities both as individuals and as a collective, and subsequently guiding them toward achieving the company’s long-term objectives whilst confidently dealing with the issues at hand.  

I believe communication is a key strategy for keeping teams actively engaged and up to date on new developments. This comes in so many forms, so finding the right medium or platform for each situation is vital to a successful outcome.  

Open communication and transparency also strengthens culture through collaboration, and provides an opportunity for teams to contribute toward solution-orientated conversations, system improvements and overall improved productivity.  

Team members can really flourish when they are connected and encouraged to think creatively about existing challenges. Equally, when a person is supported by those around them and able to safely speak without judgement, they feel empowered to bring their best selves to their work environment. I respectfully value my team’s input and welcome their ability to challenge assumptions and generate innovative solutions. 

As a business leader, a positive and realistic attitude is so important for setting the tone and boosting morale during uncertainty. Challenging times require leaders to pause, reflect and tap into their emotional intelligence through compassion and empathy. Taking the time to listen to concerns and being mindful of my team’s well-being is essential for creating a supportive and resilient work environment. 

Amidst the debris of the current/post pandemic workplace lies some of the defining factors in organisational success – employee engagement and motivation.  If you are finding it difficult to engage and motivate your team please join us for our first Development Day of 2022 as we explore this critical issue and share practical tools and techniques that will see productivity soar!


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