On the other side of COVID-19, many companies will be weaker, and many companies will no longer exist. Some companies, however, will be even stronger.
To survive, most companies have had to improve their ability to work remotely and to better manage their cash flow. That’s a given. What I’d like to focus on here is what companies can do to not only survive, but thrive in a post-COVID climate.
I’ll focus here on three specific ideas my clients are leveraging right now.
1. Triple the volume and quality of your internal communication.
One of my clients had been talking for months about the need to conduct more town hall meetings but it never seemed a high enough priority. Out of necessity they’ve now done three town hall meetings over the last six weeks. By conducting these company-wide meetings (done virtually, of course), they’ve dramatically increased the amount of information going up and down the organization. They’ve also received an incredible amount of positive feedback. Of course, they’ve decided to continue these meetings after things get back to “normal.”
Smart companies have also seen the value of more frequent, shorter communications with teams and individuals. These communications might consist of brainstorming an idea, following up on status of a project, giving feedback, coaching or just checking in to see how someone is doing.
Smart companies have also realized that teams can be very productive working remotely. Effective use of key technologies like Zoom, Mural and the right hardware for home offices allow teams to collaborate as if they were in the same room. While I don’t think remote work will replace in-person work, smart companies are learning to use these remote tools and skills to collaborate with more people, more often, from wherever they are.
2. Double down on your company’s culture.
I define culture as a set of beliefs and values that guide everyone in the company and are consistently followed. Your culture becomes the personality of the organization.
It’s all too easy to dump those beliefs and values during a crisis. Smart companies are showing they really mean what they say, and their culture is growing even stronger because of it.
When it comes to culture, smart leaders are getting three things absolutely right:
a. Values: The company’s core values must be used as a “north star”. Your core values are a set of non-negotiable behaviors that anchor your culture. Every decision made must be consistent with these values. Leaders must re-communicate these values so often that they feel they might be over-communicating. Trust me, there’s no such thing as overcommunicating your values.
b. Vision: It’s very easy these days to spend 100% of your efforts on immediate tasks focused on survival. It’s more important than ever to bring your focus and your communications back to a compelling 3-year vision for your company. The leadership team needs to be an evangelist of that inspiring vision now more than ever.
c. Vulnerability. It’s natural for leaders to want to be superheroes right now. We’re scared and tired, but we want to look strong for our teams. That’s not entirely wrong; however, we also need to show the other side. It’s when we show our vulnerability that we build trust. If we want our teams to be honest with us when they’re struggling, we need to start by being honest with them as well.
3. Treat your clients and vendors like they’re on your team.
Now is the time to be of service to your clients and vendors. Relationships will be strengthened or broken depending upon how a company reacts.
Don’t just say, “I’m here for you, let me know if you need anything.” Be specific. Give them a list of ways you can help. Not so you can make more money from them, but so you can be of service.
Both clients and vendors will ALWAYS remember how you treat them now. Did you hound them to collect that overdue receivable or did you show understanding? Were you tone deaf in your marketing and selling, or did you offer your sincere help and understanding?
Smart companies are more focused on helping rather than selling during this crisis and it will pay dividends for years to come.