This season of COVID-19 in our lives has brought change at all levels of humanity. It is clear our interactions may never be the same again. There likely will never be a return to “normal” as we once knew it.
Is that OK?
For an organized unit of any kind (a family, a small business, a non-profit, a school, church, synagogue or even the Fortune 500), your survival as an entity requires you to embrace the change. Otherwise, your very existence may be in jeopardy.
Successful achievement of this kind of change takes vision and leadership. The ability to see the new horizon, then direct efforts to get there takes courage.
Leaders must help their people see the possibilities rather than the loss from the past. Move toward something not away from it.
Some Things Are Favorable
I for one, am encouraged as I travel (virtually) the landscape in my surroundings. My clients have shared with me their decisions on ways to plot a new course in the way they do business. The professional networks I belong to have, for the most part, gracefully yet firmly embraced the change and made serious decisions about ways to grow and prosper.
The delivery of goods and services have shifted for everyone, yet the desire to stay true to a brand identity has been strengthened. Smart companies have mobilized their leadership teams to think of new ways to work, ways to communicate, and ways to maintain a virtual workforce.
Are we there yet?
Heck no. We still have a long way to go to shape the future of our businesses.
There are some organizations who have suffered at the hands of weak, undecisive leaders. I know of one story locally, where the CEO announced his retirement one week before the lockdown was directed by government officials.
The organization erupted into chaos. People who were in direct line of succession stalled, abdicating their duties.
Junior staffers rose up to take control but were unequipped to manage the bigger issues. The final outcome is yet to be determined, but for now, the business’s financial condition and its following have deteriorated, possibly to the point of no return.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Small business can survive this. But as I said earlier, it takes strong decisive leadership to do it. Pride and ego have no place here.
A leader’s metal must be tested and proven durable.
There are key actions that can help mitigate the sense of loss and set the stage for moving forward.
Lead yourself first. As a leader, you must strengthen your own resolve to steer through the crisis. Reconnect with the vision for the organization. Adjust what needs to be adjusted, then lock in on core values; both your personal values and those of the business. Seek your own personal advisory help to shape the action you want to follow. If you’ve never had a coach, mentor, or advisor at your side, now is the time.
Work on your communication style and effectiveness. As the changes around us are happening, leadership communication is at a premium. Clear, concise messaging is critical. If you confuse, you lose. People no longer have the opportunity for those ‘quick moments in the hallway’ to seek clarity from the boss. You have to manage the messaging.
Conduct 30-minute discussions with staff daily. One on one meetings may not be doable but small group calls can be. Ask how are they doing at home. How’s the spouse and kids? Is there anything impeding their work that you could help with?
Proactively identify those at risk. If you already have a personality assessment on employees, dust them off. If not, consider getting one. Look for things like their Social Energy scores, or Restlessness, or Organizational needs. Tools like Hogan Assessments can reveal key strengths and areas of sensitivity.
Employee Surveys– Do a formal and confidential survey and get a pulse. Results may not be specific, but it can be a good starting point.
Professional Counseling – Many insurance companies offer some form of counseling for mental or emotional challenges. Inquire about eligibility through the Employment Assistance Option or consider purchasing an option for the employees. Whatever you do, make sure the employees know it is confidential.
If these are values and solutions you desire but are not sure how to do them or where to start, I can provide help. Set up a call or visit the rest of my site.