All of us have watched as concerns about the novel coronavirus, also known as the COVID-19 virus, continue to spread around the globe. There is a lot of talk about how to mitigate uncertainties and fears, while maintaining productivity as more of us are working remotely than ever before.
We've seen that through challenging times, like the crisis we're facing right now, all of us are more than capable of rising to the occasion. Although this type of crisis is new, and in an effort to continue to provide value to our agency owners, I'd like to present some strategies for succeeding and being a leader in your own communities during difficult times like these:
Get the Correct Facts: As community members, we all need to research to better understand the situation at hand and what you´re potentially up against. Rely on facts and figures. Don´t make assumptions and don´t jump to premature conclusions without hard data. Let logic rule over impluses.
Create Your Agency Strategy: Extreme challenges and crisis situations are best faced with a cohesive, decisive, and consistent strategy and closely aligned action steps. Be honest to yourself, and ask “What is the worst that could happen?” This will make you face the reality of the situation and help you plan ahead accordingly. Anticipation is a crucial element but keep in mind that it might have to be a fluid plan as things could be changing frequently.
Implement Decisive and Thoughtful Actions: Do whatever it takes to address and resolve the crisis. Avoid any risk taking measures. Safety of everyone has to come first. Install clear procedures and mechanisms to be able of documenting and following through. This includes promoting your website, as well as ways for both customers and prospects to reach out to you through email and phone instead of in person.
Innovate and Experiment: Besides implementing more general actions and procedures, ensure that there is room that people are empowered to test and experiment by thinking outside of the box and being able to potentially come up with unexpected and more effective solutions. This is the part where allowing remote work to occur in your agency, provided your team has all the tools they need to perform their job successfully at home.
Be Empathetic and Positive: It´s everyone´s responsibility to take concerns of others serious. More so during turbulent and highly unstable times. Express your understanding, show empathy, ask for comments, ideas, and refer back to your strategy and plan. Exhibit an overall positive attitude without downplaying any concerns or challenges. As an agency owner, you know the importance of your role in the community. Use this as a way to share helpful tips and ways your agency is helping the community.
Create a Safe Space: It´s crucial to establish and maintain an atmosphere of trust. People should be encouraged to come forward to speak up and tell the truth. Only then critical information can be shared and discussed. This includes producers and staff who may be under the weather and an appropriate plan of action for not only their safety, but the safety of your staff and agency.
Over-communicate: As a regular remote worker, I can attest that this is KEY to being successful. Regularly, transparently, and consistently. Inform everyone about latest updates in a transparent, mindful, and non-confusing manner. Manage expectations. You need to be able to convey the seriousness and the potential impact of the crisis without creating panic.
Collaborate: Great things are happening when we work together by leveraging experience, know-how, and resources across borders and other boundaries. Crisis times are an opportunity to knock down walls and antiquated thinking in silos. It´s not a time for single fighters.
Be prepared: The next similar challenge will come. It´s not so much a question of “if”, but rather of “when?” By then we should have a comprehensive crisis strategy and action plan in place. Maybe you set up a permanent crisis task force, etc. if not already done? We have to even go a step further and develop a “crisis-ready culture.” An environment which enables and empowers leaders and other stakeholders to anticipate potentially dangerous situations and to step up during situations of crisis, make decisive and speedy decisions, and have all relevant backing required to be highly effective.
During a crisis like right now, we all have to step up and become responsible and caring leaders. In our own way and within our specific context. In such demanding situations we should transform into leaders ourselves and play a supportive role within our communities, families, and workplaces.
My personal belief is, that with a sound strategy and plan in place with operational excellence, that we can and will overcome any challenge!