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Leading Through Crisis

By Amy Schwenck-Lewis

Read on LinkedIn

The actions we take today will define us as leaders and impact the options we have tomorrow… or even within the coming hours. Below is a checklist of ideas leaders and business owners are thinking about to navigate their people through these uncertain times to emerge intact and even stronger for it. We thought we’d do our part to share these in case you are wondering what steps to take. Please share, comment and add your insights. We’re better together.

Actions to take:

· Form an Issue Response Team of diverse key decision makers. Appoint a communications lead. Commit to making rapid decisions and pivoting as needed

· Freeze or reduce noncritical spending such as planned new headcount, open positions, travel, investments

· Create 3 to 6 months revenue forecasts with 3 varying revenue assumptions of 25%, 50%, 75% sales of pre-COVID-19 forecasts

· Provide updated sales forecasts and individual sales goals to your team

· Identify short and long-term cash flow opportunities such as AP, AR, capital investment, consultant spend, pay freezes/reductions, office food/supplies, shipping, etc. Make adjustments to budgets.

· Solicit employee cost saving ideas

· Refinance to take advantage of lower interest rates and lines of credit

· Start planning for the recovery, including promotion and marketing plans, new revenue streams, customer communications, hiring plans, etc.

· Dust off shelved projects

· Focus your team on brainstorming processes and procedure optimization opportunities

· Update policies and procedures

A few things to keep in mind:

· Employees and customers will take note of how you act now. Be on the right side of this.

· We’re all nervous. But remember, if we take more than what we need, they’ll be nothing left for our community. Let’s balance the opportunity to give and take. Continue to evolve our community mindset like organizations in this COVID-19 Corporate Goodwill document Tweeted by @ScottMonty.

· Can you, your business or people help? Be thoughtful in your approach and what you can offer. Consider donating giving goods/services. Loan it. Discount it. Now is not the time for blatant opportunism which won’t serve us in the long run.

· When this all shakes out, one thing will remain true. The heartbeat of every business will continue to be their people. The talent your people lend to your organization is what makes your organization successful. Don’t take your eye off caring for your people and curating future talent needs and continuity.

The importance of communication:

· Frequent and clear communication in a time of crisis will set companies and leaders apart today and into the future. Communicate with your internal and external communities with the intent to create awareness, provide resources and hope.

· Share what you are doing, or unable to do, to preserve business continuity and your people’s employment. Also, share what is OFF the table or not being considered such as layoffs, benefit reductions, etc.

· Share current policies/directives and let people know that they are continually under review and may change, so “stay tuned”

· Schedule regular virtual check ins with your team – don’t leave them hanging

· Look for ways to lock arms with people who owe us money and we owe money. Explore creative ways to adjust payment terms to create a mutually beneficial win win.

· Communicate consistently across multiple company channels such as email, Instagram, Facebook, Slack, etc.

· Provide employees with reminders of company benefit information such as healthcare Teladoc numbers or Employee Assistance Program information that may offer services like financial planning and counselling

Ideas for, “we are” –

o Planning for today and beyond

o Looking for ways to conserve cash

o Withholding portions of executive compensation to ease cash flow and payroll concerns

o Updating our revenue forecasts as information becomes available

o Offering reduced pay to keep as many people employed as possible

o Reviewing likelihood of bonuses

o Refinancing or leveraging assets to secure credit lines

o NOT laying people off or rescinding job offers

Lastly, a compilation of resources:

· CDC (US):

· COVID-19 Corporate Goodwill:

· LinkedIn’s Curated Content:

· LifeLabs (650+ HR Leaders’ input):

· Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources:

· Coping with Anxiety

· ServiceNow’s Crisis Management Tools (for customers on any product):

If you would like to contribute, please reach out or comment. Perhaps we’ll be able to create a community of those who can help in specific areas of communications, change management, process and technical optimization, etc. at reduced or no fee.