COVID-19 has changed the rules and left some businesses scrambling to realign their road maps. However, a pandemic isn’t the only curveball companies will see in their time, even if it is the most pervasive. Here we look at how the lessons learned from businesses in crisis globally can act as a starting point during any kind of unprecedented event.
Take an open approach
Everyone wants to lead the meeting that tells of soaring profits and company growth. But when the news is less positive, it’s tempting to shield staff – and your ego – from the truth. Bad news breeds negativity, and discontent, and can give rise to insecurity and panic. However, secrecy and subterfuge inspires the same. So how do you square up to crisis comms?
Keep your team invested, but not directly involved. Giving them an honest account of events inspires trust, which is what you need for strong long-term relationships. Take responsibility and don’t try and distance yourself. Avoid talking in emotional terms or calling out specific people or roles – classic signs of fear and buck-passing.
Reorganise to reinvent
Necessity is the mother of invention, and the opportunity that comes of some crises is the chance to cast a critical eye over current work operations, practices, costs and platforms. Are your work processes bloated with unneeded tasks? Is your current software no longer serving you? Use the reorganisation from the crisis as an excuse to effect these changes. You’ll come out leaner, more efficient and better able to pivot in step with the next issue.
It’s part of the darker side of human nature to deal in rumour and hearsay, and this tendency goes double in a crisis. Quash rebellion with regular team building and socials even in a crisis, which lift spirits, aid bonding and remind staff of better times. Mixing like this also breaks employees out of their siloed social groups, which can become echo chambers of negative opinion.
Look to your data
The two biggest issues of a crisis tend to be a need for instant change, and ongoing uncertainty making planning difficult. Where businesses classically lean on repetition for road mapping, a crisis tends to remove one or more legs from the stool, making iteration impossible.
The breadth of data we have now provides an opportunity to find proven solutions that can help business leaders chart a course of action. Business leaders should identify small wins within the company, and then look to build these out, or replicate the win within another area of the business. As Gartner puts it in their 2020 report Use Data and Analytics to Lead your Business During and After the COVID-19 Crisis, “Data and analytics leaders are this era’s change makers and should drive data use and upskilling to strengthen their organisation.” Data is now the tastemaker for all modern businesses, so build your decisions out from analytics to lay firm foundations, even in the aftermath of a crisis.