The COVID-19 pandemic, which has quickly eclipsed other recent epidemics in both size and scope, has not only taken a deadly human toll, but it has inflicted significant damage on the world’s economy. Corporate leaders are struggling with the abrupt and devastating consequences of people being shut in and businesses being shut off.
Business leaders are understandably concerned about how their organizations will be affected now and in the future. One major consulting firm believes some lessons can be learned from this tragedy–lessons that could help managers emerge from the pandemic stronger than they were before. Here’s what they are saying:
Show empathy to employees and customers
The focus in this type of crisis is to recognize the impact it is having on the people that drive the organization—customers and workers. Influential leaders express empathy and compassion for the humans caught up in turmoil. They understand that priorities have moved beyond work to concerns revolving around family health, school closures, and life-threatening uncertainty.
Conversely, there is a practical aspect that managers must consider. For the sake of the same workers and customers, managers must stay focused on protecting their financial performance throughout the crisis.
Keep the mission front and center
Businesses that are in the middle of a crisis can face a burst of issues across multiple fronts. Managers must home in on the most critical of these, all the while setting areas of priority.
Excellent leaders take actions that are grouped into the following categories:
- Launch and sustain a crisis command center
- Support talent and strategy
- Maintain business continuity and financing
- Shore up the supply chain
- Stay engaged with customers
- Strengthen digital capabilities
- Engage with your business ecosystem
Top leaders are skilled at triage. They can stabilize their companies, tend to the current crisis, and still find opportunities during times of severe limitations.
Choose speed over perfection
During a crisis like COVID-19, perfection is the enemy. What is needed is quick, decisive action. It’s unreasonable to expect perfect data or information, in real–time, on operations that could be affected. There are so many unknowns, and managers must be able to act on less-than-perfect information.
They collect as much data as possible to assist their decisions. When the crisis passes, there will be time to do a review to determine how information quality can be improved in the future, but for now, expediency is essential.
Own the narrative
Leading organizations have adopted a policy of short, frequent communications based on what they do know now and filling in the details later. Without any narrative from the company, employees and stakeholders could fill the void with misinformation and assumptions. Regular communications given with a clear voice are critical. Conflicting or incomplete communications will slow the organization’s response instead of providing guidance.
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