How to lead your business out of the COVID-crisis

lead your business

We are in another crucial period for any organisation wanting to come out of the crisis with their best foot forward. Whether you are aiming to come out stronger than you went into it or simply ahead than your competitors, effective leadership is key to achieving your post-covid goals.

We’re lucky. We have leaders in our business that have been through the 2008 recession so it’s not the first major economic challenge we have faced. We’re also fortunate to have clients with very strong leadership meaning that their businesses are already reaching pre-lock-down levels of productivity.

Some clients however, as well as some in the wider business community, have asked us what areas we are focusing on. How are we showing the level of confidence to our teams to make sure that they are approaching challenges head-on?

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So, to help other businesses out there, I’ve decided to share my thoughts and suggest the areas I believe you should concentrate on to lead your business beyond the crisis.

Crisis Management

The New Normal, The Next Normal, whatever you want to call it, we all need to adapt to new realities. What have the last few months thought you about how your business reacts to crisis? Where do you need to adapt to make sure you can manage these unforeseen circumstances in the future? Now that you have been affected once, show your teams that you’re not going to let the same negative impact happen again.

Strategise

Even things that worked before are likely going to have to change now. You may need to adapt your business model to meet the changing needs, requirements and concerns of your customers. This goes further. Economically things are going to be very different, so you need to adapt your plans to reflect this.

Make sure you have the right people in the key areas to achieve your goals. We are doing this with a lot of clients at the moment – take stock of who you have and how they can drive their own areas forward.

Use technology to give yourself the edge. Early in the lockdown, we adapted and used video interviewing software to continue interviews and maintain the supply of staff to clients. Identify what tech can give you the advantage that your competitors are missing?

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Beware of the hype

The news, colleagues, other business contacts, even friends and family will be full of “new information”, advice and speculation. With the news feed updating so quickly over the last few months, it’s easy to get caught up and react too quickly and overreact. As you receive new information, take stock. Look at the source. Is it reliable? Are they the right person to advise? Think first, get the facts and then react.

People First

Lead people, not situations. Your staff are your biggest advantage. They are unique tools that other businesses don’t have. Listen to them. Don’t force them to work in conditions where they feel unsafe. Consider and adapt to their needs. If they feel respected and valued, they will follow your lead and aim to achieve your vision.

Your strategy should put your people and culture at its core.

Managing existing and new clients

All businesses have just gone through a huge personality test. This has been a great opportunity to showcase our true values and authenticity to our clients. Businesses who have stood by their clients, helped them through difficult times, offering advice and consultancy, will be the ones who’ll continue to thrive.

It has also been a great time to cultivate new relationships, build your brand and let new people know what you and your business stand for.

 

There’s no doubt that business and society has changed for at least the foreseeable future. What worked in the past might not necessarily work in the future. Your employees will be looking in your direction for guidance. What you do as a leader will shape your businesses’ and their future.

Returning to work

Following that ‘announcement’ from the Prime Minister last Sunday, and further clarification since, we’re all expecting people to gradually begin to return to work over the next while. However what does that mean for employers and employees? What do you need to do to be ready?

Thankfully, other countries have already began this process and we are able to learn from their lessons. Adopting clear and concise safety measures, flexibility and transparency are key to easing the transition for employees returning to the workplace. Health & Safety must remain the top priority in order to keep our teams safe and health as well as regaining their confidence that it’s safe to come back.

The guidelines can be a little daunting so we have compiled some points to hopefully ease the transition into what will become a new ‘normal’ within the workplace – ‘Get comfortable with the uncomfortable’!

1. Focus on Door to Door health and safety of employees

This means providing in-facility safeguards to staff. Where possible, provide masks, hand sanitiser, employee temperature screenings and social distancing. Regular and aggressive cleaning schedules for buildings and facilities. But employees could equally be at risk when they commute, eat lunch or meet clients, so anticipate and respond proactively to such risks.

Some quick wins…

– Ensure social distancing in offices – reduce hot desking, restrict the number of people in meeting rooms, shared spaces and kitchens. Think about reshuffling your floor plans, allow those who can remain working from home to do so and consider staggered opening times to reduce congestion at peak times.

– Distance Assembly line workers – allocate more time between shifts and think about reducing expectations for production because it may take people longer to move around.

– In other countries, mainly Asia, they have started to conduct health & safety checks at entry. This might be a while-off here in the UK, but the future could see us measuring body temperatures when employees arrive and asking for regular health declarations.

catering staff

Waitress with meat dish serving catering table with food snacks during party event

2. Stagger your workforce’s return

I touched on this in the last point but it’s something that will really help. Most companies in other countries have begun returning employees to the workplace in phases. Look at your people, their roles and skills and decide who should return first, who can remain working from home and if necessary, who to remain on furlough.

Also, ask for volunteers. Ask who is happy to return first, those that declare themselves fit and healthy and confident to be back. Similarly, ask who is happy to keep working from home. Remote working isn’t for everyone, but some people thrive on it.

3. Maintain frequent two-way communication.

Leverage all the tools available to you. Use town hall settings if you’re communicating to those already back to site. Emails to the wider teams and intranets if you can. Proactive, frequent and transparent communications about policies and plans, the reasoning behind them and a clear timeline will help employees understand your thinking and ease them through the transition.

Ask for feedback. This is something that we haven’t gone though before so none of us have all the answers. Being felt like their opinion is valued, then employees are much more likely to buy into your plans.

staff

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4. Plan for a protracted period of disruption

“Get comfortable with the uncomfortable”. What do I mean by that? Basically, be prepared to react and respond repeatedly as things develop.

The back to work process will come in cycles so you may need to repeat and adapt multiple times. Furthermore, make it easier for employees to adapt. Some ways you can do this…

– Provide and update technology, including hardware, software and security.

– Fortify remote working policies. People are likely to be working from home for some time so use what you have learnt over the last couple of months.

– Be flexible. People might need some leeway as they adjust. Some might be weary or even scared and might need time to fully get back into the swing of things.

Remember, as I said, none of us have gone though any of this before… none of us know all the answers. If you find yourself struggling, unsure or feel like you need some advice, please just pick up the phone. We’re talking to lots of businesses over all industries who are going through this so might just have the answer you’re looking for…

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