To say that 2020 has been the most challenging and uncertain year for decades is probably a slight understatement. This year has been tough for both people and businesses alike.
Businesses of all sizes have been hit hard, even Marks and Spencer’s has made a loss for the first time in 94 years! In fact, Barclays has reported that a whopping 82% of SMEs in the UK have been negatively impacted by Covid 19. Many businesses have lost customers overnight and have had to put their employees on furlough. Some will, and have had, no alternative but to make redundancies.
What about the businesses that ‘pivoted’?
Happily, some businesses have been challenged in a positive way, and their business has gone from strength to strength. They have seemingly been thriving during the pandemic. For some businesses, this is because they have “pivoted” and changed or added to their offering to meet the current needs. Lucky them you say, why would this be a challenge?
Because these businesses needed to take people on to meet demand. These are the ones who’ve had to had to hit the ground running, which doesn’t necessarily mean that they perform at their best.
Existing employees may well have taken management and leadership roles but haven’t had the benefit of any development to equip them for the role in order to get the best out of their teams. So even though they may have seen more success from this year, it’s been a challenge to get there.
Time for reflection in your business
These last months have provided us with the opportunity to take a step back and reflect. The world changed overnight. This led to many of us having to decide on permanent changes, having experienced a different and in a lot of ways, better way of life – despite everything. Many of us have been realising that we don’t actually need as much as we thought. For some, there has been the realisation that a better work-life balance has a lot to offer.
Time to plan for the future of your business
Whilst it may not feel like it, now is a great time to review your business strategy. What do you want to achieve in the next 3, 6 to 12 months? Or the next 2, 3, 4 and let’s be really positive, 5 years?
Whether the business is already thriving, and you want it to continue or you want to re-build and revive, having a plan of how you intend to move forward is vital.
Speculate to accumulate
Change is stressful for a lot of people at any time, but in 2020 it has been exponential. To bring your business plans to life you will need your people to buy into your plan and to be as competent as possible. Your team are a key element of your business’ future success. You need to make sure that they have the skills and behaviours required to do their jobs effectively, ideally with as little stress as possible.
Whilst it may seem counter intuitive to spend money now, if it is at all possible, however, investing in the development of your leadership team’s capability is a great place to start. Effective leaders are more likely to build trusting, honest and open relationships with their team. They are far more likely to positively influence team performance and build collective resilience.
Effective leaders are also more likely to inspire and engage their team to work towards shared goals, something that is fundamental to business success at any time, but particularly needed now. They in turn will need to support the development of their teams.
Redundancy & Survivor Syndrome Support
With redundancies becoming a very real risk for many businesses and their people, developing a plan of support measures needs to be put in place for everyone, not just those who are likely to be made redundant.
In a business environment, survivor’s guilt describes the effects felt by the remaining employees. These effects can be emotional, psychological and physical, which can range from guilt and anger to anxiety, despondency and even the worry that they may be next.
By providing your managers and leaders with the right support, this will help them to build their resilience. In turn, this will help them to support their team, which includes those employees that are staying, and those who, unfortunately, are going.
Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Whatever situation your business is facing, it is vital to keep your people abreast of what is happening or likely to happen. Be as honest and open as you possibly can, communicating the bad as well as the good. Provide facts as clearly and empathetically as you can. You risk speculation and rumours starting if you don’t communicate effectively, which is the last thing you or they need.
With clear and honest communication, you are far more likely to gain buy in from your people. You may not have all the answers to everything but tell them what you can and be as honest as you can. When things get tough, and you are being honest, the majority of people will get behind you, pull out all the stops and go the extra mile!
The key is to communicate clearly and regularly, not only will this keep tittle tattle to a minimum, but it will hopefully reduce stress and anxiety too.
Here is to 2021, and hopefully a happier and more profitable year!