Stay cool....be a Leader
Updated: Mar 9, 2020
As if being an entrepreneur was not hard enough, you now have to contend with the anxiety and fall-out resulting from Covid-19. If you have yet to feel it, get ready, it's coming. That it will impact your business is a given and the disruption could be very real. That your employees will be confused, concerned and anxious is certain. That your investors will be freaking is a pitiful certainty. What is less clear is what can you do beyond the obvious business planning issues.....
You may be thinking that all the hype and anxiety is exaggerated, but this is as much about perception as it is about substance and no amount of denial or wishing will make it go away. You run a business which has a new problem, add it to the long list of issues facing any company and work with it.
The way you handle it within your organisation will say a lot about you, for this is where you have influence and this is where you as an individual can have an outsized impact. More than anything right now, your company needs Leadership from you. Here are a few ideas:
Hygiene. Be demonstrative in applying the hygiene recommendations, in fact be "over-the-top" within your company. People must see you, the leaders, as someone who takes this seriously and who does not "cheat". You are the agent of change, the influencer, the one who can have the most impact on employee behaviour.
Hold regular "Covid-19" company wide briefings. As the potential impact of Covid-19 becomes a reality, make this a company wide conversation. In times of anxiety, transparency goes a long way to helping people adjust. People will need to understand what it means for the company, what tactical things you are implementing and what are the nature of things to come. Remember, governments tend to be very scarce in answering questions and explaining concerning issues, your employees need you to sometimes help understand things that apply to their personal life, not only work.
Show empathy. Many of your employees will likely be worried and looking to understand what it means for them. Be outwardly empathetic, recognise that this issue is top of mind and that people's morale will be affected. No matter what your management style, remember that it is in moments of adversity that you define who you are.
Offer work from home. I have never been a fan of working from home, but in the current circumstances it may be something worth taking seriously. Make sure that all understand the moral contract: you can work from home, but the company expects high performance from you.
Set priorities. Exceptional times require sacrifice. As an organisation, you will not be able to accomplish all the goals you set when planning for 2020. The challenge for you and your team is to arbitrage what really matters. When you have done that, accept nothing short of total dedication and team wide commitment. In these times it will be so easy to blame Covid-19 for everything.
There is little doubt in my mind that stress is coming for most of our companies, and yet I am supremely confident their leaders will take the appropriate measures to manage the imminent situation. B2b SaaS companies will more than likely suffer from the upcoming lack of "face-of-face" meetings, while consumer facing businesses will reap the rewards of being directly connected to the consumer. Yet at the end, it depends on you, the Leader.
Champions strive in adversity, will you?