‘I can’t change the direction of the wind but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination’
Whilst perhaps the extreme of the storm has passed the impact is going to be felt for some time. We have been buffeted by the waves, personally and professionally and our resilience has been tested like never before.
Hopefully we will have taken lots of learning about ourselves and our colleagues and now is the time to re-group, re-set and re-imagine. This blog is a practical guide to the areas you may want to consider.
What has changed? A macro view
There is much debate between those who have perhaps seen other crises and feel the world will eventually adjust and go back to the way things were and those who feel the world will never be the same again. As someone who has been in business for over thirty years my view is it will be somewhere in between but here are some observations:
- Leadership matters most in times of crisis. How you treat your team during this time will live long in the memory
- Flexible and agile working is here to stay and businesses need to plan accordingly
- As with any crisis there will be winners and losers. Sadly, many people will lose their job but that means for others there is going to be a ‘pool’ of talented people to fish in
- ‘Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.’ There were many things that you were doing before the pandemic which will still be relevant. Take the learning and pivot from your why, ie stay true to your purpose but re-look at what you do and how you do it.
- We are not likely to see overall recovery in the UK until 2022 so plan your cash-flow accordingly.
Setting the agenda
Having an eye on the future whilst dealing with all the challenges of today is a fine balancing act. Accept that you will make some wrong calls but keep your leadership team close and informed. The following is not necessarily a chronological list but I would suggest that you consider your employees first.
Employee first – how are you and your team coping?
A recent Mckinsey article talked about moving from a ‘room called fear to a room called hope.’ As individuals we will all have our lockdown story. You will do well to remember Kubler Ross five stages of reaction to grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. As leaders we are likely to be the closest to acceptance as we have had more time to think about the bigger picture.
Some of your team might have been furloughed whilst others have been working flat out. How will these different groups feel?
Make time for 121 and team sessions to understand, re-build the team and create a shared focus.
Set formal and informal communication with the internal team
Treat your people with respect and compassion. Be clear, honest and give your team the context and rationale. It isn’t going to be plain sailing and you will get far more from people if you involve them and tell them the truth.
Ensure people have clear expectations and measures (performance management still matters)
Good people want to be measured so they can celebrate success. Returning to profit starts with tracking performance on a daily basis. Continue to devolve decision-making. We have seen how swiftly decisions can be made when necessary. Build it into the fabric of your organisation.
Gather Data and insights on customer buying habits
However simplistic, start to capture changing buying habits and track growing revenues. Perhaps take the three months of lockdown and subsequent three months to build an overall picture of trading which you can start to use for building future trading scenarios and cash-flows. Be aware of how government changes in policy or guidance impacts your trading.
Set up a cross functional team to work on the future plan
So much has happened in such a short space of time. As leaders it is difficult to stay on top of everything, so don’t! Delegate authority and set up a cross functional team to work on the future plan. You might need to re-imagine your vision and this needs to be quite separate from managing the post Covid-19 return. Select this team carefully as this is about your long–term sustainability. Consider adding some external resource who will look through a different lens.
Focus on product simplicity, digital culture and engagement strategy
Review your customer journey from start to finish and think digital and innovation. Now is also the time to keep it simple. Time and resource are limited so focus on the 80/20 rule. Where do you make the most money? Stay close to your purpose and consider removing those products or services that are vanity projects!
Hopefully some of this guidance will help you ‘see the wood for the trees.