By Laura Merritt, AOE Special Projects Manager
2020 has been challenging to say the least. With COVID-19 impacting every aspect of life, many organizations have been forced into survival and recovery mode—making short-term decisions to get through the day, week or month. The business model that worked so well before no longer meets the needs of the organization, its customers and/or members or its employees. Understandable but not sustainable.
Now is the time for organizations to think beyond recovery and prepare for the future. Because the future is uncertain, organizations must become more agile and flexible than ever before. In addition, since we are likely to see significant and long-lasting changes in the ways we do business, a focus on innovation and iteration is vital to survival. By moving quickly, adapting along the way and embracing innovation, organizations will not only recover but will be better positioned for growth.
The Business Journals and Oracle NetSuite recently shared tips for how to move your organization beyond the recovery stage and prepare for new directions and growth. They include:
- Plan for the unpredictable. Have contingency plans for situations where vendors cannot deliver, or employees may be out for an extended period.
- Know what “levers” to pull in the short-term to continue moving forward.
- Avoid turning short-term decisions, necessitated in these unprecedented times, into long-term solutions—unless they lead to positive results. Proven solutions should be incorporated into the longer-range plan.
- When creating a business plan, consider all possible scenarios and potential outcomes (i.e., best, worst and most likely).
- Constantly re-evaluate your plan and look for feedback from employees and clients on what is working and what is not, then adjust accordingly.
- Create a capacity plan that will help you determine how to reallocate resources, create efficiencies, adopt new technologies and innovate.
- Gain insights into changing client and industry behaviors through research.
Once the new business plan has been created, how does a leader make sure that everyone is on board? It is human nature to fear change and uncertainty which, if ignored, can lead to employee and client/member disengagement and abandoning the ship. Leaders can help ease their fears through clear and frequent communications. It is important to recognize that communication must be a two-way street. Ask clients and/or members what they need and want from you. Encourage employees to speak up…and listen! And tell the story. Strong leaders spell out the organization’s vision, repeatedly share the “whys” for their decisions, explain the impact of these decisions and how they lead to new opportunities.
Lemonade can indeed be made from lemons. Likewise, good things can and have come from the forced changes we have experienced this year. Celebrate the good with your employees, talk about your future together and let them know that they are appreciated. We are all on a journey full of unprecedented twists and turns. But, when employees are informed, motivated and engaged as the business navigates the beyond, they will jump on board and help drive the business to a great future.
Contact AOE today for assistance as you prepare your organization for beyond COVID.