Abruptly Recognize and Respond to the Core Of This Pandemic Crisis
Just weeks ago we were all going about our lives, but in a flash everything turned decidedly worse. We had to quickly recognize the core of this crisis as it pertains to our unique business circumstances. And try to figure out how to respond in a few short days that business usually have months to prepare for. Most businesses experienced or are experiencing:
- Declining sales
- rising expenses
- customer churn
- and most important – insufficient cash
More symptoms seemed to develop weekly, if not daily, as we were faced with
changing medical guidelines and political directives.
Leadership Tips During the Coronavirus
With that said, here are 10 Quick Tips To Manage During the Coronavirus Pandemic and survive with businesses intact:
Rapidly Grasp the Problem and Focus on Real Solutions
How did companies cope? The select few leaders quickly acknowledged the problem, understood what’s driving it and identified solutions.
Poor managers procrastinated or froze up – postponing tough decisions. Those decisions tend to get harder the longer they are delayed in such uncertain times.
Making Top-Down Personnel Changes, Starting With Management
The attitude needed to lead in crisis is different and some managers just won’t have ‘it.’ They may be fine in business-as-usual circumstances but in this across-the-board disaster we are experiencing, they will not succeed or pull their weight and contribute the way they must. There’s too much at stake so, bottom-line, replacing, some senior managers of their positions could improve the chances of success. This gives a heads-up to all employees how grave the situation is and that the leadership will act decisively for business survival.
Delegate Critical Decisions Quickly to Internal Talent
This goes with the previous tip by placing the best talent in charge. Milk rises to the surface. Understanding how the organization works really provides value in a crisis. This ‘take-charge’ mind-set can exist in employees who were previously under-valued but can now contribute much more. There also may be individuals who see the situation as an opportunity to develop their careers, be part of something sweeping and make a significant difference. They are the minority while most people worry about job security. But retaining them and positioning them to lead could be a key to survival. Give them praise in public will further give them self-assurance to continue to excel. Allow them to make mistakes and advise them what went wrong. They will surely recognize this as the opportunity of career advancement as will others and motivate workers to perform their best.
Ideally, executives will look critically at their own performance, the performance of their peers and the plans ready to make a quick and forceful change. Defining interim targets is an important in the game plan, for example, “if we don’t hit XXX in sales by the third quarter we will completely re- assess our strategy”. Generally, the availability of cash is one of the most important checkpoints.
Cash Flow Paramount
No one can accurately forecast when demand will approach normal levels. We’ve all heard the expression, ‘cash is king’ and it’s especially so in a crisis. will the business generate enough cash until demand returns and bills are paid? This requires not only understanding the current cash position, but accurate cash forecasting is vital. Not just the business as a whole, but which parts of the business contribute positive cash flow. These must be prioritized over cash draining functions.
This should drive your organization to cut costs and eliminate ‘nice-to-haves’ in favor of ‘must-haves.’ This will drive a company to uncover cash-leaks and take a tough stand on business-as-usual and focus on zero-based budgeting.
Business Coaches, Mentors and External Advisors
The relationship between company owners and management will vary depending on number of employees, demand breakdown, business locations, the regulatory impact, and medical factors. Regardless, there is considerable merit when leaders can gain insight from talented professionals who are away from the day-to-day functions and see the ‘big picture’ or have insight into the actions of other similar businesses are dealing with many of the same issues.. Outside advisors can present a useful viewpoint on business risk and they should help build turnaround plans. Skillful leaders know how to take advantage of this.
External advisors can review your business Free, like SCORE )ancillary arm of U.S. Small Business Administration or SBDC, which offers free advise which work through universities to offer insight from retired business professionals.
This is aimed not just at employees, but also customers, suppliers, bankers and others. .Management must credibly highlight company direction and focus plus answer some important questions:
- Why is our set of objectives and interim goals?
- How will we achieve them?
- Who will be responsible?
- What are the target dates?
- What happens if we don’t achieve the targets or are late getting there – some implications
- What is Plan B if needed?
You need to create and distribute a script that all can see a fundamental, core narrative of the leader’s vision and action plan and how that trickles down to subordinates.
Focus on Quick Hits
Even small achievements are worthwhile when managing through a crisis. We daresay that even almost-wins are important and should be celebrated. Obviously, there has to be ultimate, longer-term direction, but getting through immediate challenges day-by-day helps build confidence and motivation and becomes the foundation on how to get there and provides motivation and buy-in along the way.
. So, play some ‘small-ball’ directing attention on hitting today’s production number or picking up a new prospect or one team member’s short-term progress renegotiating a supplier contract, etc. While these ‘wins’ won’t deliver the turnaround of the business, they play a part in getting there and make possible continued business existence and the eventual achievement of long term business survival.
Focus Incentives on Turnaround
Your company and the environment is uncertain. An organization facing hardship needs distinctive rewards than a stable one. In a crisis, incentives should relate directly to the turnaround of the business for which clear metrics are set. Perhaps these metrics could relate to cash levels, new leads, new sales or a return to profitability. They should be succinct, relatively short-term and reviewed frequently as the business changes. An inspired workforce with shared goals is precisely what your company needs to get everyone pulling in the same direction to get beyond the wreckage of Coronavirus and its devastating impact on business.
Convert Good Crisis Business Practices into Normal Behavior
Post-pandemic, the first 9 good business practices we listed should become established components of your business playbook and an employee-accepted part of the structure of your organization. Who knows, maybe as the pandemic comes to an end, you’ll have learned a few new habits to reinvent your business that you can put to work as you begin to really focus on your recovery journey.
Managers ‘tested-under-fire’ must quickly become leaders that bring a sense of ‘crisis-urgency’ and best practices to their organization even in times of stability.
Flexicrew is supporting many clients as they deal with these challenges. We are here for you. Please get in touch if you need helpworkforce planning, recruiting, safe employee temperature screening or contact tracing in this uncertain period.