How do you manage your most valued asset, your team, and turn a crisis situation into an opportunity?
The members of your team are your company’s most treasured asset, as they sum up the whole structure of your company, give life to your product and become your company’s visible face, your ambassadors and prescribers.
So what do you do when a crisis like the COVID19 pandemic hits so hard like we are seeing it roll in front of our eyes? It’s not just the Tourism industry, it’s a cascade effect that has practically paralysed the whole economy, and has left us numb to our senses.
Now more than ever you need to keep your head in the game if you want to keep your business running. Within each crisis, there is always an opportunity. Find your angle, be smart and plan your strategy to stay in the game.
Rule number one: Think long-term
I know it’s difficult in there uncertain times, but any strategy you will be planning must be seen through the lenses of how this will impact your business in the next six months. Make different scenarios and assign a resolution to each one. You don’t know what the future holds, so having three back-up plans from more conservative and optimistic to full-blown catastrophic will help you balance your reaction type. Remember: hot-headed reactions are short-term, come with a limited vision and will backfire rapidly. Keeping your head clear will help you see the big picture.
Rule number two: Empathize
No matter how big your company is, people will always look up to a compassionate leader. Now more than ever, use your empathy to relate to your employees, show them that you genuinely care and most importantly, put yourself on the same level as them. We are all in this together and only united will we be able to overcome it.
Gather all your team and talk to them in person. If your company structure has middle management, then first sit down will all your area managers and explain the next steps and align visions and messages. There is nothing more important than communicating a strong, coherent and empowering message on all levels.
Be honest. Yes, we are in a tough situation and yes, we may be looking at potential losses. Like everybody else, really. What will make the difference is the transparency and commitment you will show your staff. Explain what steps you will be taking to support them, how will this impact their roles and routines and what is the expected outcome. Empower and encourage, do not overdecorate. Own up to the situation, show strength, control and humanity.
Rule number 3 : What’s the battle plan?
In times like these, your staff will expect you to deliver a battle plan to tackle the situation. Don’t even think about standing in front of them without a prepared strategy or improvising on the spot, you will lose all credit.
Balance the pros and cons of any decision and always put ahead the human side. If you treat your employees like numbers, then do not expect them to make any effort to lend a hand and save the company. Show them they are a part of this and this is as much theirs as it is yours, and you have an army ready to fight for their future.
The first steps that many countries have already obliged companies to take due to quarantine restrictions is working remotely. Make sure you provide them with all the necessary tools, guidance and support to continue delivering the same efficiency at their newly-installed home office as they did at the company. Dedicate a moment to thank them for adapting their home to continue their work and show that their safety is important to the company. Happy and healthy staff are now more than ever a treasure.
If you find yourself in front of a tough decision of having to let people go, make sure you have weighed in all other options before sending one of your staff members home. As a manager or CEO, showing zero selfishness in this moment will secure your team’s loyalty like nothing else. Start by taking a first cut on your salary or privileges. Lead by example if you want people to follow. Continue by cutting off any unnecessary costs that you can. Any team member will be happy to give up they gym subscription or free coffee to save a team member. Reduce a small fraction of everybody’s working hours (hence retribution) just enough to keep the boat afloat until the storm passes. Prove to your staff that you are doing everything in your power to keep them safe, to keep their families safe as well and to keep the business running despite the challenges that are thrown at you.
Rule number 4: Find the opportunity
In any dark time there is always a ray of light. Look for it, reinvent your service or product, find alternatives. There has to be something that you can do, get creative.
Hotel chains have lent their facilities to receive patients that are not in critical state and do not need hospital care, but do need medical attention. Holiday rentals are opening up their doors to receive medical staff or volunteers that have been called in to a specific area. Clothes manufacturers such as Inditex have recently announced they will be producing medical clothing instead of their fashion lines. Restaurants and bars are making home deliveries and helping people stay indoors.
I am sure that I am missing out on a lot of other examples that entrepreneurs have come up with in these tough times, but in the end, what matters is that you find your niche and leverage the opportunity. The economy cannot be paralysed, we need to keep it moving somehow. Brainstorm ideas, talk to your board members or advisors and bring something fresh and unexpected to the table. Also, make sure people know about it so that you can fast track this new start and build PR and brand awareness by setting the example (remember rule number 1).
Whatever your route plan is, involve your staff members and make them full participants of this new opportunity that has arisen for your company. When people feel involved, they will give their 200% for it, and you need that right now.
Rule number 5: Stay informed
Information is power, we all know that, so make sure you are up to date with shifts in the trends, this will help you anticipate next steps. Join communities where other professionals like yourself put out their concerns as well as victories, share information, learn from them and add value. This will make the industry stronger and the end benefit will be for your staff as well as your clients.
Make sure you keep an eye on the global panorama, we have seen scenarios replicate in the countries that are more affected by the virus. So if you’re not there yet, have no doubt that it will get to that point – learn from the others and anticipate, this can give you a huge advantage.
Communication is key and when you are stuck inside and have limited social interactions, you need to compensate this even more by always keeping your staff informed on the progress, on new things to come, challenges that you have come across and giving them hope that this will soon be over.
CEOs and managers have a tough job right now, but using these keynote rules might just make it a bit easier. Times of crisis bring out the best and the worst in us, make sure you are on the right side.