I know each of you are dealing with the challenges your organizations face due to the COVID-19 virus and the unprecedented mitigation actions taken by the local, state and federal governments. The federally mandated 30 day stay at home extension (which could end up in effect until the end of May) announced yesterday once again presents you with the need and opportunity to lead from the front.
Having navigated a public company through an existential crisis here are a few of my thoughts aimed at framing some actions for you:
- Years ago I took flying lessons and the first rule all pilots learn is in a crisis, “fly the airplane”. Remember to fly the airplane. COVID-19 doesn’t get to usurp your ability to run your business.
- Specifically related to employees – as I said in my last memo you cannot possibly over communicate. Your employees have more anxiety than you realize, they are less knowledgeable about what you are doing to survive this and most of all they want to hear your confidence. Consider conducting a daily all hands meeting or video call (if you’re on WFH status) to update everyone on the state of the business. This call doesn’t have to be long but it does need to be an opportunity for employees to check in and get questions answered.
- Make sure you communicate the goals and expectations. Set up short term goals (e.g. today, tomorrow, this week) for the team and check in with each employee – remember you likely are only seeing what they reveal. Go a little deeper and make sure you understand their underlying fears, uncertainty and doubts.
- Contact and communicate with your customers and contract employees. Don’t presume they understand what you are doing, planning to do or how you expect to navigate through this – especially the next 60 days.
- Limit “panic” discounting. You are going to be tempted to cut deals but try and consider this whole event as temporary and really limit your actions related to price cutting – in the long run it won’t make your business stronger.
- Lastly, your attitude is what is setting the tone in your business. If your employees see a confident leader who is focused on the long view and really motivated and engaging day to day they will feel less afraid and will be more motivated themselves.