As our nation plunges into a period of uncertainty and distress due to the ongoing pandemic, fear is a natural emotion.
These are testing times, as we navigate uncharted territory and it is understandable to feel apprehensive about the future.
It is important for business owners to take proactive measures to weather this storm and stand as a beacon of hope and optimism to inspire their employees and instil confidence in their customers.
1. Right action comes from a positive mindset
The key shift that needs to take place is a change in mindset, as fear and anxiety inhibit sound decision-making.
Ironically, being positive is most useful when it is most difficult to do. The uncertainty is an opportunity to take a closer look at your organisation and re-evaluate it from various angles.
Dale Carnegie’s technique to analyse problems
Ask these four questions:
- What is the problem?
- What are the causes?
- What are the possible solutions?
- What is the best possible solution?
The effectiveness of these questions lies in their simplicity. It directs your train of thought straight to the issue at hand without getting caught up in any distractions.
Write these questions and the answers down on paper. It is surprising how much more clarity you will get as it facilitates the flow of ideas.
2. Increased awareness leads to better decision-making
With sales and revenue expected to drop for most businesses, it is crucial to scrutinise your value chain and understand the costs involved to generate sales at all levels.
Here are two useful questions to ask:
- Which activities provide the most value and what are the costs involved?
- Which areas are imperative to continue and which are not as important and can be scaled down or eliminated?
Cash flow issues are also likely to abound hence your working capital must be closely monitored.
Seek government-sponsored financial relief or re-negotiate existing debt arrangements with financial institutions.
3. Keep employees engaged and motivated
Business owners are responsible to maintain and uplift the morale of their employees. They must display genuine care and be willing to provide support in difficult times.
Clear lines of communication have to be established so that everyone is kept in the loop and updated with current happenings.
Employees will have more confidence as it shows that management takes charge during challenging times.
Any change in policy should be communicated with the right tone to convey that management has their best interests at heart.
4. Managing risks is as important as ever
There needs to be close monitoring for vulnerabilities within the spectrum of business, from supply chain disruption to liquidity and cyber security concerns.
Businesses should consider all possible scenarios and come up with a contingency plan.
Here are four important questions to consider:
- What is the next course of action if any key leader falls ill due to the virus? Can anyone else step up as an interim?
- Possible supplier alternatives if your supply chain is disrupted.
- What if the current movement control order is extended?
- How do you continue to serve and engage with your customers?
While you may not have a concrete plan for all possible scenarios, asking the right questions and being aware of the possibilities goes a long way in being better prepared.
5. The importance of innovation and agility in crisis
This pandemic has resulted in remote working arrangements in many companies, some of which never considered this possibility before.
It allows your organisation to experiment and see the outcome of such an exercise, and even change the perception to implement remote working arrangements in the future.
Another example is re-thinking and changing marketing strategies that are in place. More people are at home, browsing social media so it is a good opportunity to increase advertising on these platforms.
As most physical stores are closed, you want to focus on driving sales online. You can also consider what kind of brand message you are sending out in this time of distress.
Think about positioning yourself as an organisation that is mindful and empathetic to the difficulties faced by your customers and explore how you can serve and engage your customers in a positive way.
You must be willing to innovate and demonstrate agility to stay relevant in this challenging business landscape.
6. After the storm has passed
When the crisis abates, assess how you handled the situation and identify areas to better prepare for a similar crises in future.
Mistakes are inevitable, but should not discourage you from trying new things or staying positive.
Dale Carnegie says, “Develop success from failure. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success”.
Hari Shiv Raam is a Performance Consultant with Dale Carnegie Malaysia.