Managing a crisis is rarely a smooth process, even when businesses have concrete plans in place for extraordinary circumstances. It’s difficult to make business decisions when the future is uncertain, especially during our current pandemic. Information changes on a daily—sometimes hourly—basis, the resulting economic fallout is unprecedented, and the lack of available data makes it nearly impossible to predict any sort of outcome. But despite the unpredictability the pandemic brings to the economy, there are still some best practices businesses can follow to survive and even flourish afterwards.
In times of constant change, flexibility is one of the most important traits your business can possess. Historically, companies that are easily adaptable are more likely to enjoy success after recessions. These businesses take advantage of economic slowdowns by reviewing their operations and making pragmatic shifts in focus while simultaneously investing for the future. Now is the time to review all facets of your company and consider any processes that could be more efficient or eliminated. Maybe your hiring and onboarding process needs revamping, or perhaps there are company strategies in place that could use better execution. Recessions are tough, but savvy businesses will use the slowdown to their advantage. And keep in mind that even when markets return to some semblance of normalcy, the status quo will likely have changed. This might cause a necessary shift in your company’s goals or five-year plan in addition to any operational changes you make during this time.
There is always something that can be learned in a crisis. For example, many companies now know what it takes for most of their employees to work remotely with success. Businesses can use these gains to construct new crisis management plans. If your company didn’t have a crisis management plan in place before the pandemic, take advantage of this unique circumstance and begin creating one. Although we can reasonably hope a crisis on the global scale of COVID-19 won’t happen in the near future, most companies will experience a potential crisis every two years. It’s valuable to plan for two kinds of crises: external (such as the current pandemic) and internal. Flexibility is still of great importance during a crisis, but having a management plan to follow will help your company stay grounded while undergoing big changes.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it’s critical for leadership to communicate with compassion often and honestly. Be open about the state of the company and communicate regularly with employees. This will improve company morale and build trust in leadership that will last beyond the crisis.
There is little certainty in what we know about the current state of the world economy, but by being flexible, communicating openly, and preparing for future crises, you can poise your business for recovery in a post-pandemic world.