Coronavirus crisis | How to tell if you're making the right decisions
It’s clear that the coming weeks and months are set to put a significant strain on nearly every element of business. In this article from Executive Grapevine they discuss how to tell if you are makeing the right decisions at this difficult time.
Along with the financial ramifications of a world on lockdown, strained business as companies scrabble to retain at least some semblance of normality and a steep decline in demand as the priorities of the general public change drastically, are enough to test the strains of any economic system and as such, how to choose to navigate these troubling times may well define you. It’s truly crunch time for every leader in the UK.
But what does this mean? ‘Leadership’ is a broad and frustratingly varied term and many may argue that whilst the job has become more constrained, the path ahead has never been less clear; things are changing seemingly by the hour whilst cases rise and Government plans develop and are implemented. For example, at the time of writing this, the UK isn’t currently under lockdown – it’s very reasonable to assume that when it is published, the country may well be. How, then, can a leader truly make any judgements when this is the case?
Yes, it’s hard, but the semantics of the particular route you take are always going to be specific to your company and the shifting landscape. This doesn’t mean, however, that there aren’t some basics that will drive you into the right direction. Companies are thriving in these trying times not because they’ve predicted the future, but because the grounding they’ve implemented has allowed them to be proactive and their leadership has ensured that when changes do occur, their people are behind them 100%.
This ultimately boils down to:
One of the most vocal conundrums amongst leaders is what to tell staff; is the truth fear mongering? Is cushioning the blow lying? It’s hard to walk the dangerous line between harmful speculation and anxiety-inducing reality. However, the right path is always the truth. If you don’t know what the future holds, it’s fine to tell your staff exactly that. You’ve tried your best to ensure their security, the company will band together to get through these times, but ultimately, you can’t offer assurances that aren’t there. The truth is, you don’t know – but when you do, your people will be the first to know. It’s not great news, but at least with this tactic, you’re levelling with the people that matter. They’ll trust you and believe that decisions about their future aren’t happening behind closed doors to be sprung on them.
You can’t see the future, but you can ensure that whatever comes your way, you’re prepared for it as best as is reasonably possible. If you’re not already running a remote workforce, ensure that all staff have exactly what they need to fulfil their jobs from home. This may include screens, company laptops, keyboards, work phones, apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams and, almost just as importantly, access to company servers via a remote VPN. This is often overlooked in the planning stage yet can easily halt all external activity. Preparedness also means having action plans in the event that the virus renders a proportion of your staff unable to work. Are their clear chains of command within your company? Do multiple people know how to conduct key activities? What if the server goes down, are their tasks people can get on with in the interim? These are all questions you should ask yourself if you’re going to take a truly agile approach to the crisis.
Almost above all else, trust is an essential element in any successful business. However, it’s very easy to say that you trust your staff; it’s another thing to actually show it. As we enter a period in which you may not see some staff for months on end, due to the Government’s enforced social distancing and remote working policies, ensuring that you maintain positive and productive contact on a daily basis is essential, but this mustn’t be at the implementation of micromanaging. If employees feel spied on or untrusted, productivity at this already turbulent time will plummet. So, what can you do? Unless you have any reason to believe otherwise, trust that your staff are not only working, but doing their best. Celebrate their achievements and communicate that you believe mutual trust is in place. Empower your staff to work remotely without handholding, and the results will prove themselves.
Source: Exective Grapevine