During a few short weeks, businesses have been thrown the mother of all curveballs. Not many businesses will have planned for the global economy to come to a shuddering halt with people to be instructed to stay at home unless they are key workers or cannot work from home.
Zoom. Furlough. Just two words not used by many before. Crisis management, a term used by many now.
The wheels of industry, where possible, do have to keep turning and some sectors are seeing that continue. Distribution companies are hiring drivers as demand for home deliveries escalate. PPE businesses cannot manufacture masks and other equipment fast enough to keep up with demand.
In the professional services sector, dialling into webinars recently and we hear:
- Inboxes are 35-50% fuller than they were pre-Covid
- 61% of leaders in law firm attendees are looking to change their business model as a result of the crisis
- 79% of leaders in law firm attendees expect their business model to have changed after the crisis
- Almost nobody expects things to go back to the way they were; there will be a new normal
As we move from crisis management to stabilisation and scenario planning, what can and will we do?
There’s an emphasis on people. Talking, listening, empathising with people. Referring back to email inboxes being fuller than ever (and they were already burgeoning at the seams), there’s talk of using the right tools in the right situations. Michelle DeStefano called this out on a great webinar hosted by Legal Technology Insider with Caroline Hill.
There’s discussion around looking after your people, checking in, providing them with updates and information they need.
Clients are obviously very important too, not solely the employees of the business. Francesca Lagerberg in a webinar facilitated by Managing Partners Forum spoke about protecting clients and deepening relationships with them. Her message was of securing more work with them, through providing help, not selling, as clients need help.
There’s going to be a mindset change. The elastic band, once stretched, never returns to the original shape. We cannot go back to our ‘normal’ world, it does not exist.
Technology will play a part in how we go forward. The user adoption of Zoom has proven people can grasp something when there’s no choice. Speaking, on a Zoom, with the Business Development Director of a large accountancy practice, his comment was that they had discussed moving to more agile working on several occasions, it was on the Exec’s agenda; it shot up the agenda in 72 hours just a few weeks ago and disappeared off it as it’s now firmly done.
Moving from crisis management to stabilisation, scenario planning and then action to retain, manage, motivate, support, develop and encourage employees is a must. We cannot stay in crisis management or indeed scenario planning mode. There has to be action.
The right tools for the right jobs. Conference calls; done. Collaboration on work projects/matters; done. Employee engagement; let’s get it done. Client engagement; let’s get it done.
We recognise that every customer goes on a different journey, has a different start point. In other words, the problems a business is trying to solve might be specific to that business at a micro level. That’s perfect, everybody seeking to fix the problem should listen, understand, share knowledge to agree the way to resolve the challenge. At a macro level many organisational challenges are similar, consistent and, has been proven, when there’s a real imperative to change, change happens….fast.
Still got hold of that curveball? You know this; your business crisis won’t fix itself, it’s time to plan and do; just make sure to use the right tools for the right situation.