Business owners and CEOs are a resilient bunch. I’m hearing words such as “curious,” “determined,” “opportunity,” “hopeful” and “open” to describe current mindsets.
Your continued drive to do better, be better, and lead teams to places others can’t imagine is what makes you stand out. It’s why you’ve decided to do what you do. Congratulations on your voyage.
The New Paradigm
We’re getting used to the new normal. That’s good because most people find security and answers in routine. However, there’s quicksand lurking in your path.
When the stay-at-home orders were first announced in mid-March, CEOs, business owners and managers all held daily calls or video sessions – virtual huddles to stay in touch with their people. Some of these communications were at the department level while others were held company wide.
Here’s the issue: I’m hearing that the regularity of these video and phone meetings are beginning to wane. That’s a problem you need to address. Business owners and CEOs like new things: ideas, programs, customers, etc. New things break up the monotony and create opportunity. To you, having daily calls gets old fast, but you need to continue them.
There are two primary reasons why you need to make daily huddles a long-term routine.
The first is just plain old communication. Communication breeds engagement. And engagement translates into the results you’re looking for.
The second reason why these daily meetings shouldn’t lessen or stop is because most people are now finding it difficult and challenging to set priorities and keep focused on what they should be working on while they’re working from home.
In addition to the anxiety of trying to stay healthy, it’s very easy to get distracted with roommates, kids, spouses and significant others engaged in their own conversations and rituals.
It’s so bad for some, I’m literally having conversations with people who have to retreat to their closet because it’s the only place they can find the peace and quiet they need to concentrate on what they’re doing.
Now that the novelty of working remotely is starting to wear off, or wearing thin for some, your job is to ensure that any initial productivity spike you may have seen when this started doesn’t deteriorate.
Your people need the daily interactions that huddles provide for reassurance, security, camaraderie and priority setting. Don’t make the mistake of thinking just because you are a self-starter, initiative driven, independent personality that most of your people share those characteristics. Take the 10-15 minutes each day to set a routine and stay in touch.
The Sprint is Over
The enormity of economic consequences as a result of this business throttling will start to really show themselves within weeks. Like most downturns, different industries are being affected in completely different ways.
Businesses that are thriving need to think about taking advantage of their growth to command an even greater presence in their industry.
There are new opportunities and lessons being learned about satisfying customers and meeting demand. We’re seeing tons of opportunity in the supply chain and distribution channels to be better than what we were just a short three months ago. Be bold. Think of sustainable, new competitive advantages that your customers will value that differentiate you from your competitors.
For companies decimated by this unexpected reality, such as those in outdoor recreation, personal transportation, events and catering, now may be the time to reconsider your business model. Think of the weaknesses and threats you previously identified for your business and develop ways to overcome them. Is there an opportunity to simulate the activities your customers typically experience and turn that into revenues?
Surround yourself with nothing but the best talent you can afford whether its employees, contractors or consultants. Retrench and make drastic changes if you have to. Jettison your fixed costs. Be forthright with your network and peers in order to get ideas and search for sources of needed capital. If you have cash/resources to ride this out, now may be a good time to consider how to lure competitors’ customers to your brand. Keep your dream alive even if you have to zig-zag a little to get there.
Then there are the companies in the middle who haven’t been shut down but whose future looks terribly uncertain. Companies who saw an initial growth spurt but who are now falling back. Companies like traditional small retail with a limited digital presence and food service. Or, companies servicing those segments. You have to make the decision to ride out the storm or go where your customers are – fast. What are your customers looking for – a fidelity experience or convenience? (Thanks Kevin Maney). Large digital retailers and distributors are choking. They’re vulnerable. Where can you provide products and services to fill the gap? Quickly figuring out this puzzle is your strategic responsibility.
For many of you this period is the biggest test of your professional careers – with lots at stake. Take advantage of all the tools around you. Find a space where you can be creative. Bring long-term thinking into day to day activities. Do what you have to do. Be resilient.