As we move through May 2020 and the fine tuning of our office re-opening plans, smart leaders are now focused on how to discover opportunity during this turbulent time. How can you ensure your firm’s continued success through COVID-19 and beyond? Read our seven steps below.
1. Solve your clients’ new challenges
#WEAREALLINTHISTOGETHER – I first saw this hashtag in an email for a clothing store but the message resonated with me and, yes, I clicked through and made a purchase. This is the first thing to do with your clients – adapt your messaging and communication to be one of support, empathy, and of helping them achieve their goals, not selling to them. Once you approach your clients with empathy, you can build upon your relationship and mutual trust to have conversations about their new challenges. How can you make their lives easier? How can you adapt your services to help them overcome their challenges? Or even start a new service to do so? Even if you cannot help them directly, do you know someone that could? Have your team members report back all of the challenges they’ve uncovered. This brings us to number two…
2. Leverage your team members’ collective genius
Open up the opportunity to help solve your clients’ new challenges to all of your team members and collect their input. You’ll be surprised at the insights and ideas that come from all levels across your organization. Get a group of your team members (from different levels and parts of your organization) together to discuss and build upon the ideas. Innovation is crucial for the long-term success and sustainability of any company in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. More than half of the companies on the Fortune 500 list have vanished since the year 2000. What did many of those companies have in common? They were comfortable with the status quo, didn’t think they could be disrupted, and didn’t prioritize innovation. Does this sound like any firms in our industry that you know? Does this sound like your firm?
3. Optimize everything
You know that process that drives all of your team members crazy and needs to be improved but the time needed to do so has always seemed daunting? Now is the time to tackle it! Implementing ways to make your team members more productive and your projects more profitable will have a direct impact on your bottom line and improve team member engagement and satisfaction. Even if you’re not planning on paying out bonuses soon, what does your incentive process look like? Does it involve a complicated spreadsheet nobody understands? Do your team members understand why they receive the incentives they do? Does your process connect their daily actions to the amounts they receive? Learn how to make that connection for your team members HERE.
4. Strategically hire
Back in February, you were likely fighting to recruit talent. Over the last two months many firms have had layoffs. Smart firms laid off “C” players they should’ve already laid off regardless of COVID-19. Fortunately for you, other firms laid off some of their best talent as they were more expensive. Now is the time to snatch up those “A” players. Find the ones that will bring a fresh perspective, creativity, and open-mindedness that can help your firm be adaptive and meet your clients’ new challenges by implementing that new service your team identified. As the famous author Jim Collins noted, it takes the right people to take your company from good to great.
5. Proactively collaborate
Look at some of the new challenges that your clients have. Are some of challenges ones that you as a provider do not have a solution for? Look at your strategic partners. Can you work collaboratively with them to develop a new service that will help this and other clients? Don’t be afraid to look beyond partners within our industry too. Perhaps you need expensive technology to help you solve a challenge for a client? Consider the providers of that technology and find one that will partner with you to offer the new service. “If necessity is the mother of [innovation], cooperation is the father. And we’re cooperating like never before.”–John Ashcroft
6. Experiment and fail fast
If I had a dollar for every time I ask a firm “why do you do it this way” and they respond “because that’s the way we always have”, I’d be writing this from a beach in the Caribbean now…You must adapt, evolve, and pivot almost continuously as we receive more information. Five-year strategic plans are dead as we live in a world of disruption (even before COVID-19)! And, for now, planning in detail beyond the next six months is ill-advised as we don’t know if there will be a second wave of COVID-19 and if so, will stay-at-home orders be put back in place? Its more vital than ever, that you’re willing to experiment. Not sure if your firm should allow 40% of your workforce to keep working from home? Try it, learn from it, and modify as needed. Leaders are inherently afraid of failure and often elect not to even make a decision, so they don’t fail (which is actually making a decision…). However, it is okay to try something and if it doesn’t work, try something else. Break a few eggs along the way. Communicate the why with those involved and impacted and it will be okay. Just don’t make a decision and keep trying to make it work even when it clearly won’t, frustrating everyone involved.
7. Greater good
Remember that even if you’re having tough times, others are having even tougher times. What can you do to help your clients, your community, and your strategic partners? As Michael mentioned in last week’s ourVOICE post, I’m also proud to work with a company that is doing something for the greater good. At ourlinQ, helping other small and medium businesses in this time has become our mission. We’re currently offering our revolutionary project-based performance incentive platform at NO COST through your first incentive payout (even if that’s next year). To find out more, just go HERE for more information.
COVID-19 has disrupted all firms in every industry. Business will return to some sort of “new normal” eventually, but why wait for then? Take control of the things you can now. The actions you take now mean the difference between whether your firm just survives or thrives!