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Real-life strategies from our clients

The ebb and flow of business. It seems that about every 10 years or so, the good times turn tough. Many of you have been through this before – though not exactly like this. Quarantine is becoming the new normal. “Social distancing”, a phrase that was new to most of us, is likely forever entered into our lexicon.

In my role as advisor, coach, and trainer to companies in many industries, I’ve had some insightful conversations with my clients and others in the business community. It seems there are two camps. One group says, “This sucks, it’s scary, but we are staying strong. We’ll use this to get better and while our competitors are waiting it out, we are going to control what we can control, and be ready when the faucet turns on again.” They are the fighters. Another group seems to be in “wait and see” mode. It’s some version of “we are waiting this thing out. We are hunkering down and seeing how it all shakes out.” I’d call this group the flight group.

The truth is, each of us has probably gone back and forth. One minute, my backbone is steel. By the afternoon, I’m a jellyfish.

I want you to fight. People are still buying. Your customers need you and your expertise more than ever. Yes, it is not a time to be tone deaf and take a “business as usual” approach. But we can’t shut down and lose our edge. If you choose to fight, what are the strategies and ideas you can implement now? I suspect some of the proactive strategies we turn to now may end up as a part of our playbook forever. And many will look back, with gratitude that they made it through, and stand on the other side stronger than ever.

Here are some ideas and best practices I’ve heard from my clients in recent days.

My hope is that 1 or 2 of them can be adapted to fit into your crisis cookbook.

  1. Stay in the Game – Now is not the time to shut down your sales and leadership efforts and wait for the storm to pass. Right now, your team needs you to lead; not go silent. They are worried. Worried about their job; worried about their family. Stress is high. Communicate often, not through rose-colored glasses, but through genuine, authentic, “we are going to fight” optimism. They will never forget how you led them through this tough period.
  2. Focus on the things you can control – Ask your team to make two lists. One is “What is outside of our control?” The other is “Things we can control.” Have a virtual discussion. It will help them see that the things outside of our control are simply a distraction and are getting in the way of our success. Worrying about things that are outside of our control is not healthy – or wise. Build on the strategies and tactics around what you can control. It will give them a sense of purpose and simplify things.
  3. Group Brainstorming – You have smart people. Many are willing and able to go above and beyond to see your company thrive. Brainstorm with them. Not just the executive team or your inner circle – everybody. One of our clients did this and they came up with 31 things that they could do that would benefit the company during this current crisis. And the best ideas came from the frontline staff. If your team is working from home, do it on a Zoom or GoToMeeting-type session.
  4. Learn to use video technology – There is power in looking into the eyes of others – even if it’s on your computer screen. Our clients know the importance of body language in communication – and because of that, prefer video over voice. If you are a novice, the good news is it’s easy. Many of the platforms are free for smaller groups and short call durations. Invest time to get familiar with this technology.
  5. Communicate Early and Often – One of our clients has been doing morning check-in meetings with their team and afternoon check-outs. Each manager has a 10-minute meeting with their team. In the morning, it’s “What are you working on today? Anything you need help with?” As they close the day, they are asking, “How did it go? What did you learn? What do you need from me?” Afterwards, the managers jump on a quick call and share best practices and lessons learned. It’s a way to cross-pollinate good ideas across the team quickly.
  6. Provide additional value to your clients – Is there something you do, that in the past you would have considered “free consulting,” but in the short-term, you’d be willing to give away? I have a staffing client who is preparing a “How To” whitepaper on best practices for reviewing resumes. In her world, this makes sense and will have great value to her regular clients, even if they have pushed “pause” with her right now. They won’t forget what she did for them. Another client is offering some training resources that previously came with a price tag, but she’s allowing clients to access for a limited time. Is there some small thing you can do from a place of gratitude and empathy?
  7. Panic is contagious. So is leadership - Help your team see the path forward. Let them feel your optimism. Our attitude is a choice. Deal with what is real and what is in the moment, but don’t let the prevailing attitude be doom and gloom. People are stuck in an endless news cycle with very real concerns about the unknown. Help them frame their perspective. It’s not good – but together, let’s choose this to be a defining moment. They need someone like you in their life right now.

Now is the time to fight.

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