Today we are living in very difficult and complex times, fighting with an unknown enemy, with a lot of uncertainty in the business environment and no guides about how to act (or react) because this situation is so new in modern human life and history. In the past, we had similar events, like the SARS, Ebola, etc, and financial crises but none of these compares with the COVID effects in the global and local economy, and the ease in which you can get sick, or even worse, if you have other health problems, or if you are older you have a higher possibility of death. For all of these reasons, it is more difficult for our teams to have a reference about how to act . The environment is full of fear, confusion, and high levels of stress, all requiring a plan of action.
At IA interactive, we’ve identified 4 critical points we are facing at this moment
a. As business leaders, the worst thing we can do is to take a seat and wait until this situation is over. It’s like if your house is burning and you have decided to sit on the sofa waiting for the firefighters to come. As leaders, we have to think, evaluate and take action, not only for us, but for our team.
b. When this crisis is over,our team is going to evaluate ourselves, as well as those who we led, and check how congruent our words and actions really were. Over the next few years, the reputation that we build for ourselves during this crisis will define whether or not we are true business leaders.
2. Build a Rapid Response Team (RRT)
a. We have to be humble and identify your strengths and weaknesses, and we have to be clear that we can´t solve all the problems, and we should ask for help.For this reason, we need to structure and define a multidisciplinary team that will help us understand what is happening in the business environment (legal, financial, clients, people, etc) taking into account all the experts on the team point of view, building a full, holistic picture.
b. The RRT is going to be challenged to think with creativity and give options to solve the problems that are on the table. In addition, we must be very analytical in order to predict what is going to happen and consider all the consequences and impact for each of the solutions we are proposing. In that way, we will anticipate if we need to make adjustments to the plan in real time.
d. It is very important that every person on this team has the capability and habit of taking time to think and ask themselves questions and look for the answers. The temptation and pressure to act fast is overwhelming because of the rush of the moment, but if we take action without considering the implications in the medium or long term of our decisions, we could have a very big disaster later on.
a. The first priorities are people and the cash flow. All our decisions must have these two aspects in mind. Without cash flow we can not maintain our people, and without commitment from our people, we can not generate cash flow.
b. In order to take care of both, we have to evaluate the risks and benefits for our people, our finances and our clients.
c. Prioritizing is so important when selecting a few ideas to implement, because in those moments of crisis, you have to focus your team’s energy on the most impactful decisions. Yes, you have a lot of things in your list, but you have to prioritize.
d. With the criteria from points a, b and c, all members of the RRT should be clear on which actions to take, and what are the inherent risks.
4. Take action, evaluate results, adjust and continue.
a. We´ve made a weekly cash flow plan to monitor and control expenses. If some expense can not be paid this week, it will be postponed to next week (considering the implications of this decision)
b. We have a daily meeting with the RRT to follow up on the actions and validate if they have worked as we have planned, and if not we can make changes.
We are living in a complex time, we´re walking completely in the dark, dealing with something new and unknown; and as leaders, we have to be very honest with our team, showing reality as it is. We won´t paint an idealistic scenario, give false expectations or an overvalued future. We must help foster an emotion of resiliency and comradery, making the best of this situation,committing to the entire team, and being in a mood of continuously looking for new ideas, opportunities, solutions and actions.
The reputation of our leadership is on the table, people need to be led (and more in these moments) and we have to be responsible and act according to our values.