The crisis touched all, and things will never be the “same” again
For over a year and a half, businesses have experienced tragedies and triumphs. In many ways, it’s been a boot camp to train for a changed world after Covid-19. CEOs, who can learn and apply the lessons of the pandemic are better prepared than those who rush back to old ways of working.
We’re beginning a return to “normal”, but business will never be the “same.” Moving past 18 months of the pandemic, CEOs need to focus on one key question. Which new ways of working should they keep, and which old ways should they stop forever?
Frame that thought process in 3 words. Integrity, Agility and Contingency
In a recently published article, Bain and Company wrote that CEOs noted their companies were facing the worst crisis in their history, but they were seeing the best of their people. Integrity, especially in dealing with those employees, is a way to keep that magic.
How do you keep people from abandoning the engagement and integrity of the “all-for-one” mentality, seen at the start of lockdown? Organizations need to acknowledge COVID dramatically changed the ways workforces did their job. People, not machines are the backbone of a business. Will some ever be comfortable going back to the old way of doing things? We think not.
Your company is your team, an integrated whole necessary for success. Nurture and preserve that integrity. Failing that, your reward will be burnout, absenteeism, and turnover. Not a recipe for success
Some companies demonstrated agility by turning from manufacturing bread and butter products to making things like masks and face shields. Others adapted workspaces for social distancing or work-from-home alternatives. Agility means being grounded, balanced and ready to react to change. Having the right resources, both human and financial. The vision to scan the field for threats and opportunities and react accordingly.
Guess what? Customers had to adapt, too. Buyers and influencers have spent months interfacing with PCs more than people. Did that change how they view you or your products for purchase? They’ve had their share of pandemic-related problems, too…like supply chain issues and rising costs. Do they see you as part of the problem, or part of the solution? In a changed world, what’ll make them turn to you first?
The world has changed, warranting the remapping of old assumptions. Frankly, these are urgent questions that need answers. When you get them, put everything you have into addressing them.
Change is inevitable. COVID provided the biggest change in business in over a century. What did you learn? What can you do better? Time to use those lessons to draft a contingency plan and not be caught flatfooted by the next “crisis.” At some point, there will be one…at least for your business, if not the whole world.
The greatest adjunct to contingency is simplicity. Companies that pivot to meet crises are generally pretty streamlined in organization. Look at yours. General management, sales, manufacturing, R&D and finance aren’t separate departments, they’re what your company does. The more you integrate all functions in your planning and communication process, the likelier you’ll be able to deal with “the next big thing” with speed and success.
To sum up, resilient CEOs recognize they’re at the beginning of their change journey, not the end. Inspired by what was accomplished during the crisis, they see the risk ahead. Entrenched behaviors, a desire to return to normalcy, could lead the organization to snap back to old ways in a new world.