Coronavirus vs business 5 steps to survive the crisis
What qualities should managers develop right now
For business development, the current crisis was as shocking as the ice age in the world of biological evolution. And in the same way, those who survived and took good places in the new food chain have a number of similar features like warm fur or, for example, the ability to hunt in large groups. What are these features?
Adaptability. It is logical to start with her, because it was she who ensured survival. What is high adaptability, what does it look like? First, this is the willingness to accept:
their own defeats
“It doesn't sound very innovative,” you say. “All of this has been considered the classic values of any successful business for many decades.” Yes it is. But it’s important to remember that the key element of adaptability is speed.
No new idea and no revolutionary solution will work if they are taken much longer than the world has time to change. In many ways, it was speed that became a gigantic watershed between those who managed to adapt and the rest. But speed should be based on another important element.
Confidence. The most precious currency of all time. People no longer sit in offices, they can not look over their shoulders and see what they are doing there. This did not bring much success before, but quarantine very quickly put everything in its place. Managers are somehow forced to trust their subordinates, and they must trust their managers and their plans. In turn, business owners should trust both managers and employees, and inspire confidence in them - that they will have the next salary and that the company has plans and a strategy. Sounds like a solid idyll, right? In fact, it is not so difficult - apparently, many have already succeeded.
Confidence is one of the strongest basic patterns in all cultures. It is of great importance in our life, as it provides cooperation. You may notice that often good specialists refuse corporate material bonuses for the sake of a warm, trusting atmosphere - and such people usually generate a lot of great ideas for their company. Moreover, a high level of trust, as a rule, causes a desire to take on more responsibility, to get involved in a task, to do it already “as for oneself” - just for the sake of justifying the trust.
Well, and how to develop this same trust? What will make it possible to create some kind of universal trust system not only in small but also in large companies - where hundreds or even thousands of people work?
Risk management is what has become the weapon of the new era. The speed that you and I recognized as a key element of adaptability has transformed risk management from a bulky prehistoric carcass into a fast and agile predator. Let's look at a simple logical chain:
To respond to rapidly changing conditions, you need to increase the speed of making ideas and decisions, and for this you need trust between everyone. “Trust, but verify,” the proverb says. Indeed, the results of tasks can be checked more often than they did before. In IT companies, for example, there are long-established practices of daily commits and code reviews: at the end of the day, all team members send everything they managed to write in a day to the repository, and in the morning the manager checks their code and issues comments.
Thus, any risk or inaccuracy is detected the very next day. That is, the production cycle has become much shorter, faster and safer.
For managers, the task is also complicated. They need to provide competent point planning: break down all the tasks into small logical steps that can be completed within a short period of time. And also - to come up with a system for evaluating results that works well on small segments. Slow quarterly goals can no longer keep up with rapid changes, and they are replaced by more maneuverable: weekly and daily.
So, now, instead of several long stages, we now have many short ones, each of which can be performed and measured separately. This immediately entails two beneficial effects: firstly, our risks and associated losses due to their early detection are sharply reduced, the costs of their elimination are reduced, and the potential downtime of other interrelated production stages is reduced. Reducing costs, in turn, increases profitability - and this is an important bonus at the present time.
The second effect is positive dynamics: in general, the number of successfully completed tasks becomes larger, since serious errors hardly have time to arise, and if they do appear, it is easier to eliminate them in small segments.
We continue the logical chain. So, ideas and decisions are made quickly, get to work, and there they are divided into as short segments as possible so that they can be easily and quickly monitored. Costs to cover risks are reduced, the success of tasks is increased. Employees begin to trust their managers more, seeing positive changes and clear planning.
Managers trust their employees more, including because it is now easier to secure. The overall confidence index is growing, and this adds confidence to customers. In turn, the management of the company begins to trust the expert opinion of subordinates more, increasing the quantity and quality of new ideas - and the circle has closed.
People and relationships have thus become a key value of modern times. Processes are cracking at the seams, corporate politicians are on fire and correspond, and specific individuals come to the fore. All this beautifully working fast system that we just reviewed is possible only thanks to people who follow the rules of the game, at the same time improving and adapting them. Thanks to the very people who are now much more involved in what they do, they bring ideas and solutions and are engaged in their implementation.
Relationships are also changing: the importance of trust is growing, fast and frequent communications inevitably form greater transparency and help identify problems faster. You can see that in many companies the level of constructive feedback from employees has risen sharply - and this often leads to improvements in those little things that usually interfere with work.
The evaluation system - our good old KPIs - is a thing that everyone has, but not everyone understands what it is and why. Any reader must have at least once encountered the need to do something “so that it looks beautiful on a piece of paper”, right? Indeed, our entire fast production scheme with daily updates, with communications and trust, with reduced risks and frequent measurement of results simply will not make sense if we do not know what we are measuring, how and why.
For example, the Microsoft branch in Japan even before the crisis conducted an experiment: employees were transferred to a 4-day work week, thereby reducing the number of working hours by an average of 20%. Moreover, according to the report, work efficiency increased by 40%.
Moreover: we can no longer rely on vague wording. You can’t say to the designer: “Make everything beautiful” - then check tomorrow morning how many percent of “beautiful” he has already done. It is highly likely that your ideas will be very different. In a normal situation, the manager would simply clarify a couple of details, ask them to redo them, and so on, until they get the desired result. It is long, expensive, but familiar and comfortable. The crisis drove us out of this comfort zone; we cannot afford to waste. Accuracy and feasibility have finally become the main criteria for the new KPIs.
Let's check if we have enough in our logical chain. So:
The business quickly adapts to changes by increasing the speed of adoption of new ideas and decisions based on them.
There are more new ideas through mutual trust between experts and management. Management focuses on short-term point planning, dividing large tasks into small, easily controlled and measurable steps.
This significantly reduces risks, dramatically increases the speed of tasks as a whole, shortens the production cycle and reduces costs. Confidence is rising, stress is falling, productivity is rising.
The system for evaluating results becomes more clear, allowing more accurate measurement of progress, and most importantly, clear goals allow everyone to better focus on their work.
According to scientific studies, people who understand what and why they are doing are much happier, and happy people work better.
You might get the impression that it all sounds too fabulous, but look around: a business that is now afloat is the best confirmation that this theory is true. However, this does not mean that all the above can be achieved easily and quickly. This is hard work, which requires a review of many established views and values, habits and traditions, requires training in new skills - and all this in a very short time.
Ultimately, this is the management’s task - to decide what will be a more profitable strategy for the company: to learn new skills on an emergency basis or to hire experts in organizational consulting who will conduct diagnostics, help establish business processes and learn how to adapt to new conditions, whatever they were not. After all, crises come and go, but useful skills remain.