A crisis, one more powerful than 9/11 or the Great Recession is causing widespread economic consequences that most small companies, here and around the world are simply unprepared to manage. Complacency from our elected officials to our own lack of business contingency or continuity planning, has taught us all a very costly lesson, proactive planning is the best assurance of sustainability.
It is much easier to make the transition to remote operation as a healthy company, one with invested employees, clear objectives and inspired leadership. Businesses lacking a strong, operationally stable core will have more difficulty. Many small business owners are experiencing a strong “sinking feeling,” that they must adjust to a very “different” landscape.
We hear a lot of concerns from employers about productivity and trust. The simple answer is, if your employees were marginally productive, they will continue to be. On the other hand, inspired teams are generally led by owners that are inspiring communicators running proactive businesses. Replicating the communication and efficiency of a team is dependent on several operational and leadership components that can quickly make remote a codeword for happier and even more productive.
With the most recent data indicating extended economic disruption, here are some action highlights from the steps my clients are taking:
- Document processes – At its most basic business is two things, 1) proving your offering and, 2) optimizing your support systems. You can’t optimize until every function and process is documented. Operational processes include business development, operational efficiency, culture shift, and a progressive leadership function. Take the time to evaluate each platform, enlist the key players on your team and meet regularly on the most pressing topics. If it’s finding more customers, do a competitor evaluation then challenge your people on ways to improve your offering.
- Be mindful that reopening the business may be done with fewer, and potentially a different mix of people.
- Provide at home staff the necessary technology hardware, interactive software, highspeed Internet and security systems required for best performance.
- Working from home requires employee and manager to make adjustments. Allow time for everyone to figure out how to balance work and private life.
- Hire better staff, or retrain the people you have. The objective is to be more effective, responsive and efficient.
- Document job descriptions in granular detail. Create recruiting, hiring and employee review processes. Include achievable productivity measurements, then measure the output.
- Build trust between staff and management recognizing this is the most important two-way street to eliminating problems. This step will also contribute to increasing employee buy-in and retaining good people.
- Frequently hold virtual team sessions to review company performance, problems and solutions, provide recognition, while reinforcing goals and company objectives.
- Make a point of reinforcing your company’s goals and objectives in one-to-one sessions/calls/in person meetings with your staff.
For the last 21 years, I have assisted over 200 small businesses to find more customers, operate more efficiently, and lead more inspired teams. Today, faced with a lack of reliable information for sound decision making, taking a “duck and cover” approach may be a sound decision. Stay informed, your experience will tell you when it’s “your” time.
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