As an entrepreneur or business leader, you have your goals set for the direction of the company. You probably also have a game plan that you’ve shared with your employees, those hardworking people you depend on every day to get things done. As long as things are moving along, it’s smooth sailing. 

But what happens when something unexpected comes along? How do you keep people motivated during times of uncertainty? And how do you drive the engine forward through chaos without the wheels falling off?

Here’s How the Best Leaders Do It

The most effective leaders use similar tactics when guiding their teams through chaotic or uncertain times. It’s important to remember that when people feel out of control of the situation, that’s when morale starts to crumble. Employees appreciate routine and need to know that someone’s in control, no matter what’s going on. This is especially critical in situations where employees have no control at all, such as corporate mergers, acquisitions, or restructuring. If you can get your team through the uncertainty in a professional, capable manner, you’ll come out on the other side of chaos with employees who are still happy, healthy, and productive.

Four Tactics for Managing Through Chaos

Here are four tactics I’ve found helpful to get my teams through trying times. Perhaps they’ll work for you too.

#1. Stay calm. Any effective leader knows that employees take their cues from how you react under pressure. If you freak out, they’ll automatically assume there’s a reason for that. The key to leading through chaotic times is to stay calm, steady, and confident. Try to keep your emotions in check, and try not to show fear, anger, or irritation, no matter what’s going on behind the scenes. It’s crucial that you project confidence and a positive attitude as you work through the challenges. Your team will mirror your approach.

#2. Stay positive. This goes with staying calm. While it’s important to keep negative emotions in check, it’s even more important to express positivity whenever possible. Try to create ways to recognize individuals for a good performance. Take everyone out to lunch. Stop by their desks and ask how their weekend was. Show that you care. A simple positive attitude goes a lot further than you might imagine.

#3. Keep the larger goal in mind. Often, when chaos strikes, it’s because of overarching plans to expand the company or do things in a better way. It’s easy for employees to lose sight of the overall goal when it feels like everything around them is in flux. Embrace the new direction yourself, then help your team understand the bigger picture. Explain why and how it will ultimately benefit them. If you can keep them focused on why the chaos is happening — to create something better — they’ll be more willing and more likely to pull through it intact.

#4. Stay open to coaching and feedback. Good leaders have to be good listeners. Make sure you promote an open-door policy, especially in times of uncertainty. Let your team know that if they have questions or need to talk, you’re ready to listen. 

It’s critical to your success, however, that you be authentic. If you’re not the type of person who really cares whether your employees are happy or not, this tactic won’t work. They’ll see right through it, and morale will plummet even further. To get your team through the chaos, you have to be part of the team. That means you all work together, even if you have to go a little outside your comfort zone. Your employees will appreciate the effort and respect you for it.

There’s Light On the Other Side

These four tips will help any leader navigate through trying times more effectively. Once things settle down and the dust clears, you’ll see higher morale, more productivity, and more engaged employees than you have in a long time. And that’s because of you!