Looking at the devastating effect that corona virus is having on the lives of individuals and businesses, we can say that the world has never seen a pandemic with such grave impact on every aspect of our lives. The global economy is shrinking; businesses are barely holding on to survive as we cannot tell when the world will be free from the corona virus pandemic.
A health pandemic which is gradually becoming a business pandemic; business growth have stiffened with countries putting their borders on total lock down with consumers drastically reducing their demand for goods and services as they remain locked in their homes. This is an interesting and very challenging phase for businesses especially small businesses that do not have the financial capacity to keep holding on to the hope of full recovery. With consumers locked up in their homes, business leaders must not interpret it for business lockdown. In this article I will be discussing some few ways of leading through your business in time of crisis like what we face today with the corona virus.
Stick to your core values
Core values guide the way an organization works and defines their beliefs. They are the belief systems, principles and philosophies that the organizations culture is built around and they are the fundamental basis for projecting the persona and vision of the organization. Core values do not change based on the state of time or period, this is because it is the lifestyle of an organization and every member of the organization must be identified with it. It is critical for business leaders and managers to find ways of motivating and working with employees to still remain focused on the core business values and not be distracted by the wind of crisis. During difficult times in business like what we are experiencing in this time of corona virus, it is very important for businesses to stick to their core values of operations because this projects them as stable and well managed organization in the eyes of their customers. The number one person you would not like to hurt is your customer and so it is important for your customer to still see your business delivering value and meeting their needs as though your business was not experiencing any crisis. Yes, we all expect customers to understand that the world is in crisis but how will you feel if because of the crisis your children or partner or close friends started putting up certain behaviors that you find unusual towards you. Let’s say they all of a sudden your partner won’t talk to you or answer your calls or won’t eat your meals. This simple analogy applies to business as well, customers want their needs met and so they become disappointed when their trusted brands begin to fall short of such expectations. As long as you have customers, they will be looking up to you to remain faithful to your core business values even in crisis moment because that is how they identify with you.
Be more engaging with your staff
Undoubtedly one of the most important resources of every business is its human resource or employees. Employees are very much likely to fall in a pit of uncertainty and confusion in moments of business going through crisis. Some of this uncertainties may center around the security of their jobs, potential pay cuts and unusual work demands. As a business leader, it is important to keep your business afloat by ensuring that your employees are not distracted by the upsurge of the crisis. One way of doing this right is to be in constant and truthful engagement with your employees, letting them understand the situation on the grounds and taking away their uncertainties and reassuring them of measure being put in place for the benefit of all. Constant communication with your teams can create a positive can-do atmosphere within the business organization as employees will become more focused on delivering value to the customer and helping the business maintain quality operations.
Be innovative with your operations
The corona virus is threat to the success of business organizations and for businesses to still thrive and remain competitive they must begin to rethink and be innovative with their operations. Businesses unfortunately are faced with a double edge sword with the corona virus pandemic; keeping their staff and customers safe from the corona virus and still being able to deliver value to customers. This requires a very resilient approach to work and operations. An innovative resilient approach to work will mean that your business can resist the shock of the crisis, recover and deliver value in the shortest possible time. We have seen such innovations within the banking sector in Ghana where most of the banks have moved their entire banking operations to digital platforms with very little need for customers to come into the banking halls for banking services. It is interesting to note that some of this digital platforms allows customers to virtually do all banking transactions on their mobile devices. Business that are able of innovate through this period will feel less impact of the crisis than those who fail to innovate.
Adapt new ways of working
Good innovation gives birth to new ways of doing things or new work behavior within the business environment. Businesses are adapting to new ways working like remote working and virtual office setups. Other businesses are moving towards automating some of their business process to ensure that operations are not largely impacted by the current state of crisis. The corona virus pandemic has totally disrupted the normal way of business operations and it is not surprising that the entire business world today is seeing the work from home culture as the new normal for doing business. We have come to see that employees can still be very effective working from their homes and that productivity does not depend on the physical location of the employee. Other businesses are adapting in different ways ensuring flexibility in their operations and cutting down the person to person interactions within the process of delivering value. Out of crisis can emerge new ways of working that we may have never have thought of before but businesses must be ready to evolve and embrace the reality of adjusting the way they work today.
Don’t leave your customers alone
In the midst of crisis most businesses are likely to focus more on of how to maintain their operations and may tend to forget about the needs of their customer. Customers are the lifeblood of every business and so it is important for businesses to remain close and interactive with their customers all through the period of crisis. Communication plays a key role in keeping your customers updated about changes in your business operations and how they can access services. Provisions should be made for customers with a clear strategy on how to keep the customer engaged and satisfied through the crisis period. With the increasing popularity of social media, one the quickest and effective channels companies can use to keep customers engaged is leveraging on digital marketing. Crisis period is a hard time for businesses and can be a very bad time to start losing customers, do not lose focus on your customers; find creative measures of going through the crisis with them every at step of the way. Your customers will appreciate your efforts of still providing them with good services and will remain faithful to you.
Prepare for the next level
If your business is struggling beyond the ordinary to operate during this period of corona virus, then there is a clear indication that you did not have any form of control system for your business for times of crisis. Crisis management is fundamental to the future growth of every business, we have already seen a lot of businesses folding up during this long days of crisis. Business leaders must begin to take stock of the key learnings from this period and develop strategies towards full recovery. Corona virus will definitely change the way businesses operate going forward as it has punched holes into our current models of operation. We do not know when then next crisis will be hitting us and to what extent it would impact the business world but one thing we have learnt with the effects of the corona virus is that, we have to prepare and stay ready for it.
Nicholas Bortey is a multiple award winning IT strategist and business consultant with specialties in Business transformation, Technology & Digital. He has over 15years in organization’s IT and business strategy.
He is the CEO of Liranz Limited, a leading IT Consultancy & Outsourcing firm, Executing on Digital, business and technology consulting to transform business.