What follows is my latest thinking on what we are dealing with. Please let me know your thoughts and feedback. I would love to hear from you.
Blue sky…..I am standing in the suns warmth on a grassy bank with a steep decline overlooking a meandering river. Winter chill is present. I am thinking business is good and 2020 is shaping up to be a great year.…..I hear something about a really bad storm in Wuhan…never heard of that place ….good luck to them.
My eyes fly open – confusion, fear! I suddenly realize I am standing up to my neck in frigid cold water….what happened? How did it happen? It is twilight and cannot see clearly…freezing and shivering. I see my grandchildren and family a ways away. Attempt to move towards them. “Stay away!!” they scream. I am frozen. It is now dark……
I awake from a dream; I am still up to my neck in frigid water. Light is better. I see many people scattered around within 25 feet and beyond. They are also up to their necks in frigid water. There is no solid land in sight. I can move some, wiggling is okay, and take a step occasionally. I have managed to get a mask …..I mean wet suit and that makes the frigidity of the water, while uncomfortable, tolerable……Whenever I move towards someone they scream “stay away!!” It all feels alien. There is a sense that I am going to be here a while.
The above represents where we/I have been in this Pandemic and where we are now in these abnormal times…..this is a new phase. We will be here for a time. I am continuing to be involved with many clients and businesses. What follows are some thoughts about what is going on, what happens next, and what actions you can take in the face of the challenges we are all facing.
- A lot of us were frozen in the first month. How to manage everyone with work from home, lockdown for all, and the Payroll Protection Plan were the main concerns of many CEO’s and businesses.
- Many of the business leaders around us have gotten present to the new business circumstance and realities and have engaged in laying new track in this new abnormal world. They are now proactively dealing with their challenges rather than just reacting. How do I sell virtually, how do I have a safe work place, and what does my revenue look like have become the present issues.
- There is now wiggling going on in the business community. I am getting calls from Leadership Teams to facilitate planning sessions. Many aspects of the 2019 plan are now irrelevant. There is a Second Quarter though and beyond…Leadership Teams are feeling that they have got to get focused and have priorities beyond the daily fighting of fires. There now needs to be a future to live into.
- Employee health and safety from COVID-19 is a concern. Working from home is one thing. However, being in the office will become possible. Plants continue to operate; manufacturing goes on.
- How do I run a safe, healthy facility?
- What is my protocol when someone gets COVID-19 or comes from a household with Covid-19?
- What is a deep cleaning anyway?
- How many times do a day we clean?
- Temperature checks anyone?
- How do we make sure we social distance?
- What is the lunchroom and bathroom protocol?
- We have one company that has 800 employees buy a $40,000 machine in which all employees walk under on their way to work. Green light – normal temperature, Red light – fever and you are not allowed into the building. Another company has a $30,000 ultraviolet machine that lets them sanitize their trucks and offices; it can be dangerous to operate and needs training to use. This is a new day.. I predict that this kind of machine and other protocols are coming to you and will be common in our workplaces, airports and wherever we congregate indoors.
- Companies and sales forces are confronting “how do I sell in this environment?” Sales people want face-to-face meetings. We say to prospects, “let me come over”, they say, “no way Jose”, you say, “do you Zoom?????” They may say “what’s a Zoom or not today or I am Zoomed out.” Now what? One sales force we know of is having Lunch and Learns and will buy you lunch if you attend. They are doing four of these a week and being successful. What kind of video greeting and touch base video could sales departments produce that could make a difference? One of our industrial launderers is actively doing this. What about offering new products? For example, clients will need masks and face shields – they will be getting them from somewhere ….could I provide them? Should I offer to buy Zoom and cameras and mics for my clients and prospects who do not have them? Some industries are doing well. Some markets are expanding; which ones? How do I find these new markets? What research should I be doing ? Do I need to pivot and, if so, where is the pivot? One client pivoted and bought face masks in China and sent a lot of money to China. Six weeks later they have no facemasks and have not yet gotten them out of China. There are risks…… Should I redeploy my sales people so that they are involved in collecting payments and reaching customers that they know? These are the kind of issues sales teams are now focused on.
- Some workplaces are really struggling with stay at home and knowing what is getting done. Some managers struggle with communicating and getting follow through from employees. Other companies are excelling at working at home and being productive. Working at home is not going away. I predict work from out of the office will actually grow. How do you and your company get better at it? What tools do you need to use to enhance productivity? One answer that I am hearing over and over again is communication, communication, communication…….Then how are you going to enhance virtual communication in your organization and from six feet with masks on……..?
- In many organizations the meeting structure went out of existence. Firefighting and reacting was the order of the day. With this new phase it is time to bring regular meetings back. The meeting structure probably needs to be enhanced and strengthened. It just takes longer to get things done…that is certainly my experience. More communication is needed – via Zoom and the like – what do we need to do to enhance our communication is the question.
- There is hiring going on. Some of our clients are quite excited that the job marketplace has changed dramatically. It has gone from being very hard to hire talent to there are certainly a lot more people looking for work. Jobs that were unfilled before the Pandemic are now being filled with some real talent. CEO’s are facing the fact that some of their employees are no longer able to be productive or valuable given the new environment. They will be looking for more talented and nimble leaders. There is now real hiring going on with frontline workers.
- The Payroll Protection Plan will be up for most sometime in July. For many who got the money that is a line in the sand. That is the time that they want to make sure that they have their legs under them and that thy are moving forward into this new world.
- Optimism and denial are cousins …..I want to be hopeful and at the same time not deny the situation and the challenges business is facing. There are so many shrill voices: OPEN UP, STAY CLOSED, WEAR A MASK, DON’T WEAR A MASK, IT’S CHINA’S FAULT, ECONOMY IS IMPLODING, RECOVERY WILL BE V SHAPED, U SHAPED, IT’S A CONSPIRACY, NO IT’S A SERVIOUS MEDICAL EMERGENCY… all voices seemingly plausible and reasonable…..OMG who do I listen to? That is the struggle…There is lots of uncertainty, things seem to change daily and this seems to be the only things that are certain. Change and uncertainty that is the new what is so.
- I have been doing Zoom calls with business leaders since the beginning. At first I was showing up dressed casually and saying that is generous. At least I had clothes on. I now am always coming to these calls dressed business casual – at least the top of me is. I am drinking a lot less. We are in a new phase and taking steps forward .
We are opening up at different speeds in different regions. The next few weeks will give us insights and glimmers as to the next phase of the Pandemic and what the new reality is. These are some of the things that I hear and I am dealing with. My intention is that this supports and contributes.
How about you? I look forward to hearing your adventures and insights in these abnormal times.
Keep causing and creating!