Leadership is a constant challenge. In order to define accurate strategies to gain market shares, optimize revenues and foster innovation, leadership requires a 360 degree view of the customer and a full knowledge of what is happening on the front line – with suppliers, strategic partners, competitors and your team members.
COVID-19 marked a new era. Market grounds have been shaken, and continue to build on them requires change.
So, how do you face management challenges in times of crisis?
The Challenge of Diagnosis
Your vision needs to be adjusted. It is very likely that yesterday’s screenplay is no longer relevant. First of all, you need to proceed to a full diagnosis of the crisis’ damages on your product and market.
- Re-evaluate your market – are your services or products still relevant in tomorrow’s world? If not, you will have to find the missing piece to make it fits. This can mean changing your target, your delivery methods, or your timeline. Define the optimized angle of action in order to put a number on the related expected costs.
- Know your partners’ challenges – you must get situational assessments of what is happening in the field: where do your partners stand when it come to shortage, resupply, time lines, and expected change of costs? Your upcoming decisions have to be realistic of your ecosystem.
As a good leader, having an accurate vision is already part of your day-to-day process of decisions making. However, in time of crisis, be aware that the information you will receive will be incomplete, instable and likely to change. Also, know that emotions and worries will suddenly be part of your business conversations. Your mission will be to avoid the pitfall of analysis stagnation, and to be able to make decisions.
The Challenge of Prioritizing
Having a framework for decision-making is crucial to offset the emotional bias, break through the inertia, and therefore, increase the probabilities of successful completion. Operate on a step-by-step basis: define your goals and report the concerns identified for each one of them. In light of the identified concerns, conflicts will be arising between your goals: draw a clear line between the important (long-run achievements) and the urgent (immediate survival). Define two to five priorities on three timelines: short-term (end of the month), mid-term (end of the quarter) and long-term.
You need to remain on top of your defined and documented priorities. Define new metrics to supervise and review performance. Establish weekly reports to adjust your strategies when need be.
The Challenge of Motivation
Your team’s effectiveness will always be the mirror of the ability of your business to grow, and in time of crisis, to survive.
The distractions created by a crisis can stick around for longer that you would expect in your employees’ emotional, financial or even existential preoccupations. It is crucial to understand those circumstances in order to achieve engaging, motivating and communicating effectively with the members of your teams.
- Connect with them. Schedule weekly one-on-one meetings with your team members in order to first, be updated of their state of mind on a personal level; and second, impulse interest and empowerment by focusing on their work. These meetings will be valuable to ensure easy and frequent exchange of information, to identify which implemented patterns are working smoothly and which ones have to be improved.
- Explain changes. You will take upon yourself to re-evaluate the market, adjust your strategies and define your priorities. Nobody but you can communicate about it with your team members. Do not settle for summary emails to team’s managers – this will only create more confusion. Drive meetings and explain your full reasoning to all the employees affected by changes. Transparency is the only way for each one of your employees to feel engaged in reaching the defined goals.
- Motivate. In times of crisis, your employees are going through a certain amount of existential questions when it comes to their career, the meaning of their work and life priorities. Keep them up to speed about everything new that is happening in your business and everything you are accomplishing to counter the crisis. Whatever your activity is, the simple fact of staying productive in time of crisis is powerful and honourable: amplify this message to make your teams proud and fulfilled with good energy.
The Challenge of Opportunity
Your customers are your number one priority. While you are focusing on developing and implementing strategies to keep your business on its feet, keep in mind that your ultimate mission is to provide positive outcomes to your customers. Consequently, you need to adjust you communication strategy.
Crisis communication has to be reassuring by being fully transparent. Share with your customers details about the difficulties that you are facing and be specific about the efforts you are making to overcome them. This will enable your customers to be empathic and wanting to support you. To do so, make sure to stay in touch with them on a regular basis, through frequent email marketing campaigns. Thank them for their support; let them know where things stand; share with them each success you meet along the way and keep sending technical content to remind them of your value. With a crisis always comes an ‘opportunity window’, use it to get closer to your customers.