There is absolutely no doubt that since the start of the COVID pandemic, our strength, tenacity and resilience have been tested. Now, as we start to look down the barrel of “opening up”, the reality of learning to “live with COVID” will test us once again. Although, here in Australia we have had the benefit of seeing how living with COVID has played out for other countries, the reality is there is still so much uncertainty of what this might look like for us.
So, what can and should you do to ready yourself, your team and your business for living with COVID?
Focus on what you can control. Focus on building a business that will be strong enough to weather the storm, have the tenacity to persevere and the resilience to overcome the tough times. Resilience represents not just an opportunity to manage risk but also an opportunity for competitive advantage.
- Make the most of adversity. Rather than “surviving” the lockdown or simply planning to return to pre-lockdown life, aim to capitalise on it. Cutting costs only lasts so long. How have your business processes and thinking evolved? How can innovation help you to gain an advantage? Think about what is available to you - how can you turn your lemons into lemonade?
- Plan! As a leader, it is your responsibility to always have one eye on the future. Take a long-term view. Think about your strategy, what decisions do you need to make today for your tomorrow? Think about where you are headed, what will you need to get you there and who/what skills do you need on your team?
- Diversity and adaptability. Resilience depends on being able to generate alternative ways of reacting to situations, which in turn depends on the ability to see things with fresh eyes. Resilient businesses encourage and appreciate diversity. How have or will you create diversity within your organisation? Will you foster it from within, will it be “hired in” – maybe it’s a combination?
- Built-in capacity. In stable times, business is often approached from the perspective of performance optimisation (think, just in time inventory planning, maximise staff utilisation, etc). However, when things are unstable, we are quickly reminded of the inherent fragility of static operating systems and processes like these. Think about how you can create capacity and flexibility within your business. Think about all of your resources – not just labour. How can you create capacity with technology and automation?
- Incremental change. Resilient businesses are underpinned by incremental improvement. This sustainable approach to change builds strong, adaptable structures and supporting systems. What weaknesses have you identified? What are you doing to implement regular or daily reflections/debriefs to help you identify opportunities and problem areas? What improvements can you implement?
- Your business is more than the numbers. Profitability alone cannot measure the health of a business. Financial information is often a lag indicator, it’s telling us how things went. Measuring the health of your business requires you to monitor your lead indicators, such as staff morale, customer engagement, the business’ ability to identify, respond and adapt to change. Measuring and managing your lead indicators will provide you with greater insights and decision making within your business. What are your lead indicators telling you?
As we inch closer to more freedom, the days for dining in and spending up have finally come. So to ensure that you can reap the benefits of post lockdown living and pre-Christmas festivities, do your preparation in implementing the principles above. Implementing these will not only allow you to survive the impacts of lockdown, but can provide you with a strong, tenacious and resilient business for both now and into the future. At PKF we practice what we preach. If what we have done can help you, let’s get the conversation started.