COVID-19 Leadership Tips
The world has come to a standstill due to COVID-19. Ever since the pandemic and the nationwide lockdown started, it has impacted the personal and professional lives of people across the globe. Businesses across all sectors, no matter how established they are, have also taken a hit. It has become difficult for companies to manage their financial performance and employee safety due to disrupted cash flows and uncertainty in the global financial environment.
The present health crisis has posed a variety of challenges for leading entrepreneurs. One such problem is to keep their business alive and at the same time, protect the well-being of their employees.
Business leaders have a prominent role to play in helping the world get through this pandemic. They need to re-look at how they operate their business and adapt to new ways to survive the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19.
Here are some tips business leaders can follow to get through this unprecedented situation of COVID-19.
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1. Focus on employee safety
The success of your business is directly related to the safety of your employees. Hence, it is critical to focus on your team’s well-being before any other consideration. This usually includes making the PPE kits and sanitizers available to all employees and setting clear rules to ensure social distancing. Additionally, a business leader can also offer job security and financial support for childcare, elder care, and meals, as and when required.
2. Focus on identifying new revenue sources to emerge stronger
According to a survey by PWC that involved 330 global finance leaders, 47% of CFOs are expecting a financial crunch of more than 10% in revenue. This slowdown in the economy has forced the leaders to look at new sources of revenue and update tactics to emerge stronger once the market reopens. The same survey reported that 63% of CFOs are planning on introducing new products while another 41% are changing their pricing models.
Consumer behavior has rapidly altered to make way for the enforced lockdowns. As a proactive leader, it is your job to study these changes and adapt to new consumer needs. Possessing a certain degree of agility will ensure that you survive the pandemic and emerge stronger than ever.
3. Communicate intensively with your team
Your team relies on you, so make sure to have transparent communication with them. Also, share your why and how behind every decision whenever possible. Further, keep them updated about the happenings in the company so that they can engage in innovative solutions and maintain a professional and responsible approach towards the problems.
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Since most of the employees are working from home, you should stay connected with them through various communication tools. It is crucial to understand the mood of your team and work together to get through this challenging time. In addition to formal communication, try to incorporate informal support from peers. Encourage your employees to open up and talk about how they are coping.
4. Work closely with your clients to understand their needs
Customer retention is probably the single best strategy to keep your head afloat during the pandemic. With customer spending at an all-time low, retaining old customers becomes all the more critical. According to a study by SignalMind, returning customers spend up to 33% more than new customers. Additionally, converting a new customer has a probability of only 5-20% whereas a returning customer is almost thrice as likely to spend.
The needs of your clients have changed dramatically due to the Coronavirus outbreak. It is imperative that you do your background research thoroughly to be able to meet their current demands. Pivoting your services to accommodate their new needs, launching new products, and repackaging old products in more efficient marketing is the key to retaining old customers.
5. Engage actively with stakeholders
During such extreme times, every business leader must ensure to keep the clients and stakeholders updated about the changes and developments in the company. So, it is crucial to have honest communication with your investors and other external stakeholders regarding the current crisis and how it will impact the overall business. Moreover, discuss your long-term goals and be open to suggestions and feedback. All in all, avoid providing wrong and irrelevant information to the stakeholders to gain more trust and confidence.
6. Surviving the pandemic doesn’t necessarily lead to layoffs
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The PwC survey also revealed that the primary issue for 41% of CFOs was the effect coronavirus would have on the workforce in the form of layoffs, productivity issues, and remote work. While these worries are justified and as a business leader, it is your job to keep the company afloat no matter how, it will help to consider these points before laying off large chunks of your workers.
- Align your internal communications across all channels while maintaining integrity in the message.
- Don’t send out abstract and empty statements. Not communicating truthfully and clearly will only add to the uncertainty and anxiety building up within your employee ranks.
- Instead of layoffs, try introducing cutbacks in salaries and benefits. But, keep in mind, that you will have to shoulder the pain with your employees. As the leader, you should be taking the biggest pay cut along with the other C-Suite executives in your firm. You can also rope in a salary management firm that can help you in restructuring the salary of your employees to save tax.
- You can reduce working hours within the departments that have more employees than needed. Moreover, introducing sabbaticals and unpaid leaves might help convince employees to put down some personal sacrifices to save their jobs.
7. Cut down on miscellaneous expenses
The pandemic has put the economy into recession with disruptions in production and supply chain management. Leaders are fighting to shed off the extra weight from their companies in order to remain as lean as possible. In such a scenario it might be advisable to consider the following suggestions.
- Freeze all bonuses, increments, overtime hours, and promotions for the time being. Talk to your employees before doing so and explain in detail why this step is necessary.
- Cut down on your marketing expenses. Find out the most profitable channels and focus only on them while cutting down investments in non-performing channels.
- Pause all payments into employee retirement funds and reduce paid vacation days to cut costs.
The Coronavirus pandemic has swept the whole world in a state of worry. But, at the same time, it has enabled the business leaders to adapt to the new realities and turn this crisis into an opportunity to introspect and assess the business operations. Hence, keep thriving, support each other, and solve the challenges as they come.