Author: Kelly Jackson, Executive Director (SLCCC)
When things first hit for all of us, I immediately reacted with a doomsday mentality given our very mission is to provide in-person education and networking events to better our industry in the region. However, with a renewed perspective and less reactionary thinking, I knew that rebuilding is the reality for the long-term and there is no need to start all over, just refocus or rebuild. What worked well before, enhance, and reconstruct while expanding the previous model with technology and fresh perspectives.
I would have started with personnel, however, let’s face it the immediate focus is finances for any business or organization. Whatever you planned for revenue and growth last fall for the first quarter or 2020, is now in the rearview mirror and does not reflect the current business climate. Sadly, we can’t use financial models, historical calculations, or a familiar process in determining our projections. It’s a do-over. We are guessing with as much knowledge as I can muster. However, understanding the baseline changes that will impact your organization will give you the best way to identify where your numbers might fall. It also means taking action on areas that you know need attention. Assessing key metrics and reviewing trends will help you determine increases or decreases.
We find ourselves no longer in an environment where the best of the best is unavailable. I have witnessed several highly respected experts get laid off. Unemployment is up to 33 million and large companies are expected to layoff even more and smaller ones may also reduce staff. The point is that opportunity is out there for businesses to replace staff with better performers and for better performers to find better fits. Many believe things happen for a reason, this might be a win for businesses and for talent who found themselves unemployed due to this virus. I find myself instead, providing more training and restructuring the knowledge and capability of our team. Don’t be shy to consider the same with your own team. Needs may have shifted and it’s certainly possible in some cases you can train good performers to take on new responsibilities.
In our case, it’s you, our members for the most part but it’s our customers as well. The impact of COVID-19 falls on customers, members, competitors, and all markets. To rebuild means determining new needs, new expectations, new ways to gain customers. The very definition of marketing is understanding the needs and wants of your audience. Well, now is the time to relearn. It’s our hope we can help you with some of this, but we know it will take more than our programs. Shifts in vendors, for example, will most certainly happen. We are rebuilding, which means re-evaluating our vendors, partners, and even our customers/clients. The door could be open to swoop in and provide a better alternative for your services. Build your sales teams vs. letting them go. Build skills up for top performers vs. laying them off. Understand the needs of your customers and put your sales and marketing teams to work. Now is NOT the time to reduce this team.
The Operations “Go Technology!”//
For eight years I ran a virtual team of contractors and employees. I also took advantage of Zoom, Go to Meetings, WebEx, you name it to minimize unnecessary trips to clients and increase conversations as much as possible. We provided training to clients via these tools as well which minimized costs to my company with less time drawn to travel. Take advantage of what you have learned and change your mindset. I’m not saying this has been perfect for every organization, but I bet it was far better than expected. The answer you likely learned is that it can be done. The team can work from home with the right technology. You can learn new tricks! There is more definitely a new appreciation for technology and yes, an immense opportunity does exist to drive productivity and also job satisfaction, which ultimately is a win-win for all. This digital transformation will accelerate a rebuilding and remove obstacles for your organization facing a future crisis or even staffing challenges due to personnel needs. This change will improve your bottom line, embrace it.
Hmmm, I think a lot about this. No, I am no expert on work culture, but I have extensively studied cultural diversity and philosophy. A crisis will test us all unlike anything else. Culture will either bring people together during this team or pull them apart. One of our members, Laura Baebler (LNB Studio) shared her insights with me on culture and how she designs space around the organization’s culture. She starts every design around this. Why? Because it impacts productivity, it impacts quality, it impacts the ability to provide the aforementioned by attracting the best talent. A supportive culture means support at a time of crisis, providing strength where it is needed, and just as with understanding the needs of customers, know the needs of your most valuable asset, your team. This is not going to be quick. I like many others suffered great loss during the pandemic. It was extremely hard to focus when stress was already high due to worry and uncertainty. All of us dealt with challenges in different ways and must adapt. Make sure to do what you can to help in this effort and it will go a long way in your organization’s success.
Hopefully, your organization has a strategic plan which means you have a marketing plan. Even if it’s in your leader’s heads, priorities have shifted. Where you prepared for this requirement or terribly unprepared. We could have been more prepared. I knew we were not the priority when this pandemic hit the region. We shifted into focusing on owner calls to have open discussions with each other. This didn’t happen previously but has been beneficial and well attended. We also, knew we needed to share information that was useful to our members as well as talk to our members. I had many conversations along the way. I needed to learn what the challenges are for both owners and associate members. I not only wanted to be helpful to them, but I also wanted to learn from them to determine how we can best help. Although our priorities had to shift, your long-term priorities will also look different. Revisit your strategic plan and remember your plan is your guidebook. Remember your mission, your goals, evaluate the strategies, and shift your tactics. Rebuilding may seem daunting, but the alternative is worse.
Here is the quote by Charles Swindoll, I learned when part of Business Networking International (BNI). I am reminded of this almost daily. “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think, say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play the one string we have, and that is our attitude… I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so, it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes.”