WHEN everything is collapsing around you in the workplace, maintaining a calm presence provides the best balance to an otherwise chaotic environment.

Positioning yourself as the voice of reason when the pressure is on will make you invaluable. Learn how to be in control, change a stressful work environment and monitor your boss's temperament.

Anyone can shine when the office is making progress and achieving great results. But what sets you apart is how you respond to emergencies and adversities, such as a restructuring and integration.

Remain calm

During trying times, take a step back, stay calm, and assess the situation. Fight the urge to make rash decisions. Instead, think objectively through the issues at hand and identify some possible resolutions.

Do not betray your true emotions and keep a cool appearance. Ensure your speech is measured, clear and composed. Sometimes, humour can be appropriate as it can ease the anxiety of those around you.

Rely on your close colleagues. Working with them every day provides you a sense of everyone's strengths and weaknesses. In times of emergencies, you need a team who will work efficiently toward a common goal. So give your team the scope, resources and independence to get the job done.

Set priorities

When the ship is sinking, look around to see what can be done to reverse the downward spiral. Sometimes, protocol and hierarchy must be eliminated so that you and the organisation can meet desired objectives.

Determine whether projects can be completed without all the necessary red tape and sign-off approvals. Once things have settled down, you can then re-work more stringent processes back into the work flow.

In addition, do not spend too much time on one project because you will need time to work on other projects that may need fixing.

Set boundaries regarding what projects are essential, and what can be shelved, and allocate your resources accordingly. Determine whether there are gaps in your business which need immediate attention and investigate how to bridge them.

Communicate effectively

As in all aspects of a good business operation, communication is essential. Let your staff know that you recognise there is an emergency and you have a plan in place to resolve it. Once you have assessed and designed a course of action, be decisive and follow through with the plan.

Set mini goals and acknowledge them when they are achieved. This will prove to your staff that you are winning the battle and there is light at the end of the tunnel, creating the impression that the mammoth task ahead is achievable.

Stay cohesive

Gauge the mood and attitude of your boss and watch out for body language such as sloped shoulders and stooped head.

These are signs that your boss is waving the white flag and breaking under the pressure. It is important to recognise them and offer your support before he folds under the enormity of the task ahead.

Your people will want to see a united leadership team. Ensure that your boss is involved in the decision-making process and is comfortable with the direction you are taking.

A splintered leadership leaves panic and uncertainty, and your staff will start leaving in droves right when you need them most.

Share the workload

Sometimes, talking to the front-line staff can be more beneficial as they are closer to the issues than middle managers.

Talk to your staff to understand their fears and anxieties. While you may not be able to do anything at first, at least you can provide them with an outlet to air their grievances.

Do not try to do everything yourself. Some emergencies may be a temporary storm while others are marathons that require thoughtful planning, endurance and patience to overcome.

An endless stream of 12-hour workdays, for instance, will cause burn-out. Encourage your teammates to have a work-life balance to keep them functioning optimally.

Lead the way

While it is likely that you too are feeling anxiety and stress, these feelings can be channelled such that it provides positive outcomes.

The old saying, "If you want a job done, give it to a busy person", rings true. With stress, you are in a higher state of alertness but you need to ensure that you can manage the tension and your time appropriately.

While you may not have a formal leadership position, the times when the office is struggling for direction are opportunities for you to demonstrate your leadership qualities. Believe in yourself and people will ultimately follow you.