Our Manifesto on Cοvid-19 crisis in businessBy: Vasilis Vassiliadis
During crises of similar magnitude and intensity like the one upon us, the most critical battle is the one against time. The time we remain in lockdown, ‘under siege’. Starting with the arrival of COVID-19 until things go ‘back to normal’. This passage is an especially critical path for our future. Drawing a parallel, this passage is a bridge that connects two points, two eras, the beforeCOVID-19 (b.c.) to the afterCOVID-19 (a.c) era. This bridge has a name, and we’ll call it during COVID19 (d.c.).
“ Drive or being driven „
During such times, people tend to drift into either one of two large groups:
Those that take cover and stay low until the crisis is behind them. That is until the others finish building the bridge to the other side. When all is said and done, they will take stock and try to reposition themselves in the new, post-crisis reality. Statistically speaking, most are a bit overwhelmed if not utterly lost, so any recovery is prolonged drastically.
Those that take cover and simultaneously contribute into building the bridge. It is this group that transforms their inertia into action and mobilizes to co-develop a new tomorrow. When the crisis subsides, they are a few steps ahead of the previous group, having already taken stock of what transpired and have already placed themselves in this new tomorrow. More often than not, this group has a leg up adjusting, with fewer losses and recovery is swifter.
Team A is being led by the course of things, and B is at least partially, driving the course of things.
So a natural question would be: Would I rather drive change, or have change ‘happen’ to me?
If you are OK with things ‘happening’ to you we have nothing of use to offer you at this point in time. But if you are prone to drive change, then continue reading.
How can a team or an organization while ‘under siege’, be active and participate in the developments amidst a crisis that severely cripples or totally stops any commercial activity?
A 2nd question arises: Is there a contingency plan?
“ Assess the situation „
In the case there is none, it is crucial to immediately assess and project on the business plan and performance of the company, and the financial consequences, based on a timeframe that accounts for estimates while operating within the crisis. Then, pick the worst case scenario.
If there is a contingency plan in place, continue reading.
The teams that have a sound and cogent Purpose, are the ones that can lead the developments. Having a Purpose, provides for a long term vision amidst any short term crisis. The organizations that use a clear Purpose to align and connect their people, are genuinely interested in socially contributing during this difficult period, living up to their Purpose and overall “raison d’être”, and subsequently working on their financials too.
“ Short & long term „
The leadership of a company with purpose, knows well that making up for any investment or even ‘losses’ from contributing now, will happen slowly and steadily in the future.
Several organizations have no clear purpose and some others, only claim to have one. What is really of prime interest to them is the financial effect of this crisis and if it is not negative, then, and only then, will they consider socially contributing. It’s not that they do not want to contribute but they feel they cannot afford it financially. Leadership in these cases evaluates results and forecasts on a quarterly (annually at best) so the return on any social contribution made must be secure and immediate within the forecasted period.
It’s during such crises that lies a unique opportunity for us all to come out the other end, a bit improved, and that much more accountable, be it as individuals or organizations.
This begs a 3rd question yet: Do we have a purpose, and if yes, is it driving us?
If you are nodding “Yes!” then continue reading.
If not, then maybe the remaining text here won’t resonate with you.
“ Build Clarity „
Now more than ever, we create Clarity around who we really are, what defines us, and how we act. The way we mentally prioritise our financials, numbers and facts, and discuss them with our colleagues (Leadership Team), in that same manner we discuss with everyone. That is how we manage to create a sense of stability in an environment otherwise filled with uncertainty.
One message, one story, the same for everyone, the entire world. Inside and perhaps outside our organization.
And the 4th question is: Do we have Clarity in communicating and executing our Contingency Plan?
“ Decide Fast „
If the answer is ‘yes’ proceed. If your response is no, then you are shooting yourself in the foot and we are at your disposal if you need help to articulate your organization’s Clarity as it pertains to this crisis.
It is high time for brave and swift decisions. Applying your organization’s Contingency Plan with your it’s Purpose as a guide goes into immediate execution. In trying times like this crisis, what sets the organizations that “Drive” change apart from those that change “Happens to” is determination and swift decision making.
So the 5th question is: Are decisions being made swiftly and decisively, that lead to immediate execution of the contingency plan towards purpose?
If the answer is “Yes”, fog on.
“ Stay Connected „
Now more than ever we need to do everything possible to keep our people connected to each other and to the organization. And all that is nothing more than a daily, online catch-up call. It is irrelevant, whether there is a pressing topic to discuss or not, yet all teams of the entire organization have to come together on a daily basis, even if it’s for a stand-up ‘goodmorning’ quick call.
6th question: You call a daily team meeting with your teams, even if only to say ‘hi’?
“ Share Share Share… „
We drive, have a contingency plan, clarity in our communications, we make swift decisions, we stay connected to all our team members, and now all that is left to do for the duration of this crisis, until the bridge is completed, is to share all that we know, think and feel with our teams.
It is time to seek deeper connections, reshape together and establish the foundation for a culture with purpose, a culture where people meet on opportunities beyond their profession and job description. It is time the organization becomes collectively sensitive and familiar with it’s vulnerable, more human side, and leverages all the dynamics that evolve from this space that did not exist until recently.
The way forward is simple, so long as we answer the 7th question: Do we share everything with our people, in a simple, honest and original way? Are we truthful or do we still say what others need to hear?
“ Sense of weness „
With the daily sharing, we create “thinking” rooms to better process the facts, whether related to the organization or not, in order to achieve the desired cohesion. During crises, there is a unique opportunity for team to become more coherent, and develop a stronger ‘sense of belonging’.
We know that building belonging is not always easy, however through experimental interventions, facilitated by professionals with therapeutic background, you can help all personnel to deal with uncertainty and put some order in the ‘noise’ and insecurity that is omnipresent at this point in their lives. At the same time, this will help you to build a new safety net for the team and also for each individual. We are ready to help you too.
Is building more coherence for your team an opportunity for you now?
That is the 8th question. If you are still reading, the answer is more likely ‘yes’ so keep on reading:
“ Self care „
For the organization to be healthy, each unit, and team needs to be healthy, so Self Care is an essential characteristic of people that ‘drive’ during crises. Personal Coaching for executives, Team Coaching for teams and therapeutic sessions with psychotherapists, for those more serious cases that the person is dealing with traumatic experiences, like the loss of loved ones, or signs of depression. Always WFH, remotely.
If you answer positively to the 9th question “do you believe in Self Care?” continue reading on, to improve readiness for today and the next day.
“ Build readiness „
It helps to keep the bigger picture in mind, and having responded positively to all previous questions, we have created a fertile ground to grow and develop our people, and thus our organization in a healthy manner.
People at this phase are capable of navigating uncertainty with their eye on the future state, and provide for personal growth, within limits, since it is extremely difficult for people to reach their highest developmental pace when the crisis is omnipresent in society and in our homes.
It is for this reason, we offer Learning Bites, chunk size learning online, on current, trending and targeted topics, like “presentations online”, “online meetings”, “customer service from home” etc.
Responding to the 10th question, “are we ready for the new skills required?” we can then move on to the last step in completing our bridge.
“ Unlearn Relearn „
Being acclimated to this new reality, we continue to develop more core corporate projects and initiatives like Culture, Customer Experience, Leadership development, etc. Always online and as of recently, with extra focus on what we need to unlearn, thus ‘leave behind’ as we move ahead, and what is new there to learn for tomorrow.
There is a golden opportunity upon us, to trigger a substantial culture shift, since much internal resistance has subsided and insecurity has shifted towards the external environment. A culture shift we would previously design over a period of three years, can now be attained in half the time, so long as we manage this transition period from b.c to a.c. in a smart, clever way.
And just like that, with heightened responsibility, we have reached the a.c. (after COVID19) era and we wrap our this manifesto, posing this last question:
Some day in the near future, when the narrative of your organization and your industry will be recorded in the history books, what title would you want for today’s chapter?
How to use this manifesto:
We are almost sure you already have tried some of the ideas share in this manifesto. Why not progress and add all the suggested steps? Approach this as a holistic plan to transition to the post-COVID19 era, and not only some phases of it. Do the best you can, leveraging your own teams.
Look for, and use all tools, training sessions and workshops that are available over the internet, either totally free or at a nominal cost.
Feel free to share the manifesto with your colleagues, partners, your consultants, staff, of course your friends and everyone you think can benefit from it, or anyone you need help from.
That is the main reason of this manifesto.
We remain at your disposal to discuss and elaborate on our manifesto, and how this could be applied.
Closing, we would like to share our pricing policy during this COVID19 crisis, which stems from the #SharingIsCaring principal:
All our services, consulting engagement and interventions are offered at 50% of their original cost. Payment terms will be adjusted after we mutually agree how those terms fit with your organization’s financial circumstances. Especially for companies that have been hit to the point that cannot afford any payment plan, we offer our services for free.
In times of crisis, we believe we each owe to help all and everyone. We won’t make income for building the bridge, but we are confident that we will soon, collectively return to a period of normal growth and well being.