97: Managing Your Team Through a Crisis with Dyan Dolfi-Offutt

A moment of crisis can shatter a team or make it stronger than ever. It’s all about how you respond as the team leader. Right now, surrounded by the uncertainties and tragedies of COVID-19, it’s your turn to step up and manage through this difficult moment.

Dyan Dolfi-Offutt founded Soda Pop Public Relations in 2011 with the goal of doing great work for great people as well as creating a healthy & fun culture for her team. With an experienced team of professionals, Soda Pop PR specializes in media relations, influencer relations, events, and partnerships for food, beverage and lifestyle brands. Over the last eight years, SPPR’s personalized, honest and creative approach has launched over 40 products, managed over 50 influencer campaigns, brokered 100+ partnerships and produced over 90 promotional events resulting in over 7 billion impressions.

A few months ago, before coronavirus shook the world, Dyan experienced a moment of crisis in her business. While the context was different, the lessons learned can be applied to almost any situation. Dyan and I talk about how she approached this difficult moment with her team. What information she shared and when, how she empowered the team and was vulnerable with them, basically how to lead through a moment of crisis.

Read the related blog article: How to Inspire Your Team When Everything Is Falling Apart

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  • You’re only as successful as your team and the people you surround yourself with.
  • When a crisis arises or you face a difficult decision, it’s important not to only think about yourself.
  • When accepting advice from others, take it with a grain of salt. Their situation may be different from yours. Their values may be different. You should listen and then decide for yourself.
  • Be as transparent as possible with your team. Tell them everything you can, even more than you normally would.
  • Talk with each person individually as well as as a whole group. Process the news together and then one-on-one.
  • As the leader, you need to be rock solid and vulnerable at the same time. Project confidence in your plan to do everything you can to get the team out of the situation while also being real about the impact it has on you personally.
  • Imagine the worst case scenario and then make peace with it. This frees your mind to work on what you can do rather than worry about what will happen.
  • The hardest part of change is the neutral zone, between what was and what will be. (From Managing Transitions book) Focus on the small daily activities that will move you forward.
  • Continue to invest in your team even during a moment of crisis. That investment will provide momentum and inspiration to keep going.
  • Attack the problems as a team. Start a “war room” where the team gathers weekly to work on the problem, share learnings and plan next steps.
  • The small things you do all year establish the strong foundation for you to lead your team when a difficult moment arises. Say hello, give real-time feedback, build relationships, etc. It matters.



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