It seems like about every 10 years a major, business-shaking event takes place that challenges us as leaders. So, when talk of a global pandemic started emerging a few weeks ago, I encouraged our leaders to settle in and get ready for what may feel like a reset.
When the coronavirus pandemic was first mentioned, some people were skeptical that it was anything to be concerned about, while others were at the other end of the spectrum. No matter where you fall, it’s very clear now that COVID-19 is impacting us all in one way or another. Schools have gone to distance learning, businesses have been ordered to close and stay-at-home orders have flipped our communities upside down.
During times of crisis, it’s essential we maintain our integrity and are very timely in our decision-making.
This is not a good time for procrastination.
So, how do you make good decisions when the facts keep changing and you don’t know what tomorrow will bring?
Here are a few key pieces of advice:
- Don’t make decisions today that will jeopardize your tomorrow.
You cannot look so closely at the business, that you forget about the people. Likewise, you cannot focus so much on the people, that you jeopardize the business. They want an employer to come back to. As difficult as it may seem, you need to err on the side of keeping your business viable or nobody will have a job.
- Make temporary, short-term commitments.
The conditions keep changing and you need to keep adapting. Don’t let your decisions today lock you in. An example is our remote work policy. This isn’t something we want to extend too far out, but at the same time we don’t want to be premature in allowing workers back in our office. When making commitments, focus on the next 7-10 days whenever possible. You need to maintain flexibility so you can keep assessing and responding effectively.
- You also need to think forward.
What’s the next thing you need to be mindful of? In times of crisis, it can be challenging (and even counter-productive) to get too far ahead. However, items like cash flow and collections need to be carefully tracked and analyzed so you can take the appropriate actions if necessary. Running out of cash is something you need to avoid.
- Avoid blanket policies.
They are not feasible in times of crisis. There are so many variables at play and exceptions that change at different points of time. What makes sense for one group may not make sense for another. This is a time when you should be dynamic based on the situation.
- Focus on your mindset and messaging.
I have always been one to whistle while at work. Although it is getting harder to do so, I haven’t stopped. I gain confidence when I remember that we’ve been through challenges before and look to others for better and best practices. You set the tone for your team and the organization.
- Know your go-to sources for accurate information.
Facts can keep changing. Make it a priority to stay informed and reference your reliable resources. Good decision-making starts with good information. Stay nimble and be prepared to respond to validated information accordingly. I feel it is a good practice to communicate often to employees and be as clear and consistent as we can in our messaging.
When things are at their worst is when we, as leaders, need to be at our best. One of our most important jobs during a crisis is to keep making sensible and timely decisions. It took us just a few weeks to get here, but it will take months – maybe years – to get “back to normal.” So, settle in, focus on what matters and keep making the next decision. We’ll get through this, and it may even become what we’re most proud of.