COVID-19 Survival Tactics for Small Business Leadership
Written by Amy Hinman
The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing us to re-evaluate the ways we do business as consumers, managers, workers, and humans. Leadership and management during coronavirus are different than “normal,” requiring phenomenal amounts of empathy, strategy, and foresight.
While there is no guidebook for effective leadership during a global pandemic, there are steps you can take to boost morale, promote team connectedness, and maintain the quality of your work. In this blog, we’ll review some of the strategies and perspectives we’ve employed during the coronavirus crisis.
Strategies for Surviving and Thriving During Coronavirus Lockdown
At LaFleur, we began working from home in mid-March. Since then, we have worked hard to make sure our team has the tools they need to work remotely successfully and to stay as healthy as possible.
Be Transparent With Your Team
To survive the coronavirus lockdown and maintain employee engagement, you’ll need to be honest with your team. Leadership should clearly communicate their expectations and strategies, and teams should express how they’re really doing, and what they need. This, of course, is often easier to talk about than it is to do.
Your business may be facing significant uncertainty and market volatility—and you probably don’t have all the answers. However, now is the time to lead.
Keep your staff up to date on your business’ performance. Explain your short-term and long-term pandemic plans. And as you transition back into the office, provide clear guidance about how you’ll protect your team’s health and wellness. If you don’t have a COVID-19 working group or response team, it’s time to invite some of your top talent to a weekly strategy session.
Ask Questions Before You Reopen the Office
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have clearly indicated that the coronavirus isn’t going away. While states may be able to loosen their shelter-in-place orders, there’s a strong likelihood that we’ll face a second wave of COVID-19. As a business leader, you need to keep this in mind as you reopen your doors. It’s likely that you won’t quickly return to “business as usual.”
Some of your team is probably ready to get back into the physical office. Others will prefer remote working, due to concerns about the virus. Many aren’t sure how to manage their family’s current childcare, healthcare, and other needs while returning to in-office work.
As you start planning your business’ next steps, ask for input. You may find that a staged return to the office or split arrangements that allow for smaller in-office cohorts works best for your team. Similarly, your team may have great ideas about how to encourage in-office social distancing by reworking your workspaces.
You should also consult with public health professionals about best practices that can keep your team safe, healthy, and productive.
Business Apps: Look Beyond the Standard Productivity Tools
By now, many businesses have transitioned to remote work, curbside pickups, and other solutions. Remote work can be isolating and demoralizing without support, but communication and organizational technologies can help make the work-from-home experience a little less challenging. At LaFleur, we use many well-known applications, like Office 365, Asana, Zoom, and Slack.
However, we also embrace additional tools that encourage employee engagement. Peer-to-peer recognition and feedback are invaluable, especially during periods of stress and uncertainty. To gauge our team’s state of mind and engagement, we use Officevibe to collect anonymous feedback. Bonusly, which lets team members recognize and reward each other, is another excellent way for staff to recognize and celebrate each other’s accomplishments and boost morale.
Look for Creative Teambuilding Opportunities
If your team is like ours, you probably miss spending time with one another, chatting in the breakroom, reviewing projects, and catching up about your weekends. People are craving opportunities to connect with their friends and colleagues. Zoom happy hours are great, and our team loves them. However, some people may be burnt out after a day of videoconferences, and they should never be mandatory.
You can also look for other creative ways to connect virtually. At LaFleur, we created a fitness challenge to keep people healthy and moving. It’s a good excuse to get outside, compete against our friends, and engage in some much-needed self-care.
You can also consider themed lunch meetings, virtual game nights, and drive-by work anniversary celebrations. Send a hand-written note when someone goes the extra mile. Looking for more inspiration? You may be able to borrow teambuilding ideas from your kids’ remote classroom sessions! These interactions can help maintain a sense of normalcy and routine, keeping your team connected. Don’t shy away from team meetings, project reviews, internal team check-ins, and chances for small talk.
Offer a Forum for COVID-19 Discussions
This suggestion follows closely with our calls for transparency and team feedback. When we transitioned to working from home, LaFleur created a dedicated Slack channel for coronavirus conversation. Just like any other project or topic, this forum helped give employees a place to share information, ask questions, and vent.
The conversation on our COVID-19 channel is diverse. It includes information about the stay-at-home orders that impact our team and clients, clinical data and research, stories about kids and pets Zoombombing our meetings, and more than a few memes and gifs. However, at its core, this channel is a place for people to discuss a difficult topic on their own terms, letting the rest of our conversations focus on developing brilliant digital marketing for our clients.
It might be easy to forget, but we’re not just working from home. We’re trying to work at home during a global pandemic while maintaining our roles as parents, spouses, family members, and friends. We’re navigating the new challenges of homeschooling, sharing workspace with your partner or roommates, and finding essentials like toilet paper, hand soap, and flour. Your employees are struggling, and you likely are too. When you need a break, take one. Prioritizing your team’s emotional wellness will make this new “normal” more sustainable, and more importantly, will take care of your team.
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Do the Best You Can With What You Have
One of the most difficult aspects of managing a team during such a stressful event is the challenge of balancing empathy and expectations. Everyone is going through something extremely difficult. There’s more pressure than ever for your business to thrive, so people need to work hard — maybe even harder than they were before the lockdown as you pivot strategies to remain relevant to the current climate.
You and your team will need to work harder than you ever have, in conditions that aren’t ideal. You’ll need to find solutions for unprecedented problems, and be more open and honest than ever. We know it won’t be easy. We encourage you to do the best you can with what you have, and to reach out to us if you need help. We’re proud to still be here, working to ensure the success of our clients and community during this uncertain time.
LaFleur Is Still Here, and Still Working for You
At LaFleur, we understand that this is one of the most challenging, unprecedented moments of our lifetime. We care about our community, our clients, and our partners, and are still working hard to help you reach your digital marketing goals. If you have questions about digital marketing in the time of coronavirus, how to successfully manage a remote team, or to get a quote, don’t hesitate to reach out! Give us a call at (888) 222-1512 or fill out our online contact form.
We look forward to hearing from you!