Leaders define themselves in difficult times, and we are experiencing difficult times like no other. COVID-19 is a severe threat, and I support public officials who are taking the necessary steps to avoid a catastrophic loss of life. Unfortunately, that means business leaders must manage the impacts of social-distancing – a new concept that is negatively impacting almost all businesses.
The recent recommendation by the federal government to avoid groups of 10 or more, and daily closures of businesses by local authorities, creates both challenges and opportunities. When leaders react with action and creativity, their organizations are best situated to survive in unpredictable times.
Many business models are not impacted by social-distancing. But, if your business can’t operate normally in the current environment, here are several actionable strategies you can put into place to keep your company moving forward, even if your team is working remotely. If you have other ideas, please share them with me online on Facebook or LinkedIn.
Train Your Team Members
The most obvious opportunity that comes with remote workers is training, either in groups or individual online courses. What skills, processes, or tools will improve your team members and organization?
I can’t count the number of times that I’ve heard a client say, “I wish we had more time for training.” Well, now you have the time. Improve those Excel skills. Work on the team’s cold-calling skills. Learn how to use a new marketing automation tool. Make a dent in that pile of books you have on the shelf. The amount of online training options is endless.
Here are four simple steps to build a company-wide training program for remote workers:
- Host a video conference call with your team and brainstorm possible training topics. When brainstorming, remember that the goal to generate a large number of ideas rather than worrying too much about the quality of ideas. Here’s the question to facilitate the conversation: “What skills, tools, or processes could we improve with training to make our company better?” (Note: If you’re new to hosting online remote brainstorming sessions, consider using Miro to provide a collaborative digital whiteboard environment for your team.)
- Rank the ideas based on the potential impact on your organization’s ability to deliver your products and services. Consider the result to the bottom line and also how it can help you weather these difficult times.
- Identify an owner for the top three ideas to develop a plan to deliver the training remotely. Ideally, the owner would have a small team of co-workers to assist in building the training program. Give them a few days to come back with a plan based on the current resources (team member availability, budget, and remote access).
- Host a second video conference and have each project owner present their plan for a training program. Allow for feedback from the entire team about each program. Then decide as a group which training programs to pursue and schedule the next steps.
Improve Internal Processes
All organizations should have well-documented systems, checklists, and processes as the foundation of their scalable business. With the unusual break in normal business activities, this is the time to document or update your standard operating procedures (SOPs).
To get started, follow the same four steps to build a training program above. Assemble your team and brainstorm all of the SOPs that need to be updated or documented in your company. Then rank them in order of importance relative to the ability to deliver your products and services effectively. Assign an owner and a small team to each of the top processes and have them start working remotely to document those SOPs. Finally, have the entire team come back together to review and train on the newly documented procedures.
Digital Spring Cleaning
Another common complaint I hear from teams is that their CRM or digital files have old and incorrect data. Is it time to clean out Dropbox? Confirm addresses in your customer database? With remote access to these systems, it’s a perfect time to organize groups to tackle these spring-cleaning projects. Provide clear directions and small, incremental milestones to ensure the team stays on track.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt, one of the greatest leaders in American history, said, “…let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” from his inaugural address. Leaders understand that every set of challenges also provides opportunities. In this ever-changing and challenging environment, it’s time to get creative. Don’t let fear get in the way of building your company in difficult times.
If you have any questions or comments, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rob Simons is a coach, facilitator, and storyteller – a unique fusion of skills that makes him uniquely equipped to coach entrepreneurs and business leaders to scale organizations. Using the Rockefeller Habits as his foundation, Rob has successfully trained hundreds of clients to build a culture of purpose, alignment, and accountability in organizations across a variety of industries. Contact Rob at email@example.com or 210-845-2782.