6 min read
The opinions expressed by collaborators are personal.
All companies , not just yours, are suffering, and a lot, from this pandemic . The decisions you make will determine the future of your business and all of its employees, so it is important that you carry out strong and clear actions. You will also have to find ways to manifest your leadership . Here are some recommendations for these difficult times.
When things are going well, being positive is easy — inclusive, natural. Being positive when all fronts of the business are being threatened is a challenge. You can be direct and honest with your employees, letting them know that the conditions are complex; that there is not enough cash; that customers have been reduced, or are null, and that this may continue for months. But your attitude must remain positive. Let them know that they will survive the situation, that sooner or later things must change, that your company and its employees have what it takes to get ahead. If you, as a leader, spread hopelessness and negativity, everyone will be infected, both employees and customers.
If you hide things, everyone imagines the worst. If there is no communication, the rumors will flow and be misrepresented, and it will soon be difficult to stop them. 'Did you hear that the company closes?', 'Did you already know that Mari, the accounting officer, forced her to take a vacation?' It is better to avoid rumors, and that communication comes from official channels. If there is no official communication, it will be replaced by the imagination of a few, who with or without intent, will harm your company. What's more, if the company must close, let us know. It is better that they know about you, directly and honestly, than someone else. Also if you have to communicate something difficult, such as a pay drop or a layoff, I recommend that it come directly from you.
Are you one of those bosses who justifies employee loyalty based on the time they spend sitting at the computer? I'm afraid to tell you that that possibility is over. Having to work from home will test your faith in the loyalty and commitment of your employees. You will be able to see very easily who is and who is not truly working without supervision, as the results will be evident, as long as you trust your staff.
Is it possible to monitor today that employees connect and work “9 to 5”? Definitely. From connection logs to video surveillance through computers. Worth it? Of course not. At the end of the day, with or without Covid-19, if you don't know who on your team is doing their job and who isn't, maybe you should be the one to leave the company. Do not stop performing supervisory tasks, such as conducting remote meetings and / or asking for status via chat, which in addition to the end of supervision will allow you to maintain the companionship and humanism of the company, but avoid being a “Big Brother”.
Your dream is not dead, it has only been delayed. Subsisting is the only way to continue impacting the lives of your customers and your employees. I was once trained as a Medical Emergency Technician, and there is a phrase that very clearly exemplifies the priorities of a patient and the first respondent from highest to lowest: “Life, function, aesthetics.” Similarly, the most important thing during difficult times is for the company to survive; the rest is secondary.
'But we are going to look bad in the press', or 'Our clients are going to complain that we did not send them the monthly newsletter'. Neither way, the previous premises affect your “aesthetics”, similar to when you have to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation and break a rib. You must continue the compressions.
“But we are going to have to fire 20 employees,” or “We are going to have to close our operations in X country.” Anyway, these premises are part of your “function”, similar to when you have to cut a gangrenous arm to save your life.
The most important thing is the life of your company, or it will not be only 20 employees and a newsletter that does not arrive.
Different companies and different industries must measure their actions according to their own needs. Some industries, such as some pharmaceuticals or staple industries (staple foods, canned goods, etc.), will perform even better than in normal times. You will need to take several factors into account to determine how drastic your actions should be. From your industry, the movement and type of clients, your position in the box, your liabilities, your geographical location, your expenses (or “burn rate”), etc. It is important to take assertive and immediate actions, it is true, but do not cut your arm if it is not necessary. Remember that the actions you take to survive are so that once the pandemic ends you are in a position of strength and you can take advantage of the gaps left by your competitors who did not survive. If you already cut your arm, well, it will cost you more work to replace it.
Faith and hope
If you are reading this article, it is because you are thinking that this pandemic will not be the apocalypse. And believe me, it won't be. It is normal for you to be afraid, but fear is mitigated when you identify what is causing it. Turn on the light and unmask the virus that appears in the dark, and you will notice that it is not invincible.
Do not lose faith and keep hope. You are an entrepreneur because you had faith, do you remember? Now you need it more than ever. Now you need yourself more than ever. Now we need you more than ever.