The current environment is one of the most difficult many of us will be called on to lead in our professional (and personal) lives. Routines have been disrupted. Team members have been personally and profoundly impacted. Successful business models have become obsolete in a matter of days (days!). It is hard to understate the tsunami of change.
As leaders, we are first in line to respond to the needs of the business by acting with a clear mind, honest about challenges faced and open to finding new ways to deliver value. While there is solace in the fact that everyone is facing the same challenges, history teaches that in times of substantial disruption, businesses that innovate first capture the lion’s share of the next market uptick.
The Weber team is applying our collective energy to help our clients assess the state of their business with a focus on capturing emerging opportunities. As our work progresses, a few best practices have emerged:
- Adapt and take the time to learn – Whether business has slowed or demand has spiked, you are likely spending your time adapting to new market conditions. Take note where the business is struggling to deliver, especially where your team has created “workarounds” to meet customer needs. Is a process no longer working properly? Hand-offs failing to take place? Messaging out of alignment? Capture these findings to revisit after this reactionary period has ended.
- It’s OK to look forward – Many businesses are pausing some or all aspects of day-to-day operations due to these unique circumstances. While these decisions are incredibly difficult to make, the pauses are opening time for teams to tackle lagging issues.
- Set a vision of how the business will succeed when this moment has passed. Work with your team to break down into actionable steps any key areas of development required to get there. Keep in mind how little free time you had day-to-day even one month ago. As the economy rebounds, time will become pressed again. Pauses are rare, short-term opportunities to reset parts of the business that need attention, so take the lead to act now.
- Purpose Creates Momentum – Perhaps more than ever, people are looking for places to invest their energy. Open as many slots as possible for employees to participate in evolving the business. While we all must maintain essential work, providing individuals with actionable goals that will help sustain and grow the business creates positive purpose, which in turn creates momentum across the organization.
- Embrace Innovation– If innovation has existed merely as a role, team, or expense line on your income statement with a focus on creating value “down-the-line,” now is the time to embrace it across the organization. Innovations of all kinds will be needed to meet shifting consumer and business expectations.
- Share your openness to new, creative solutions that provide solutions and direction in this time of dysfunction. Encourage your teams to bring forward their best ideas to solve old (and newly created) business issues. Empower your leaders to balance pushing boundaries with meeting the ongoing needs of the business. There is a likely a wealth of untapped potential that will pay enormous dividends as we all evolve.
Many businesses are investing energy trying to figure out the best way to maintain status quo in the midst of dramatic upheaval. While this is a natural reaction, businesses and consumers alike are trying new and different channels to meet their personal and professional needs during this time. The businesses that accept this shift in buyer behavior as at least somewhat permanent will be best positioned in the future.
As leaders, we do not have to have all (or any) of the answers right now. We simply have to let our teams know that it is OK to look forward and to provide them with the tools, guidance and positive support needed to collectively succeed in a rapidly changing world.
About Weber Associates
Weber Associates is a Columbus, OH based consulting firm. Since 1985, we have blended the creativity of a marketing agency with the analytical rigor of a consultancy to help our clients significantly grow revenues and customer loyalty. People hire us to solve real sales and marketing challenges. To improve their sales process. To grab someone’s attention and selling something. In short, they hire us to make their marketing make more sales.