There’s one skill that as business leaders we’re going to need now more than ever before ... COMMUNICATION.
I’m sure you’ve been communicating much more than normal throughout the entire crisis, but that’s got to continue. Your communication needs to be wholly honest, and share with people exactly the situation you and the organisation finds itself in, because we’re all in uncharted waters.
Number one priority has to be your employees. You need to be sharing with them very regularly, honestly exactly what’s going on.
All of us throughout these last months have suffered from different levels of anxiety. Your staff have been anxious about catching the COVID virus. They have been anxious about their relatives and friends catching the virus. They have been anxious about their jobs. They have been anxious about the country. They have had all kinds of anxieties. It’s something we need to recognise, and it’s something that we need to be helping with as far as we’re able, whilst always keeping our focus on our organisation and taking it forward to the new bright future.
Say to them: “I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. It’s a new world we find ourselves in. But I promise you that I’m going to be working my hardest to try and ensure that the business gets back to where it was and kicks forward from there. I promise you that I am going to keep you informed throughout this period, and I will be absolutely as honest with you as I can”
I would recommend that you use video and it needs to be you, the boss, they see. They deserve to hear directly from the horse’s mouth.
Have a look at this video of Badar Khan, the CEO of National Grid in the USA speaking to his employees about recent events in there.
I think it’s an excellent example of employee communication that we should all aspire to and I’m indebted to my good friend Michael Dodd for sharing it with me.
So, who is the next priority after employees to communicate to? It must be your customers. I would suggest you need to be talking to your customers in a way you never have done before - be honest with them also.
You may need to say to them, “I hope you’ll understand, but at the moment, we aspire to but may not be achieving the sort of service levels we used to achieve with you. Please bear with us. We are working very hard to get back to where we were”
Share with them honestly what’s going on, but also ask for their advice. People generally respond to being asked for advice.
Maybe, “We’re thinking about moving into this sector, changing the way we do things from this to this.” Maybe for example, it’s doing more online. “What do you think about that? I’d love to have a chat with you about your views on the direction that we should go in as a business. I would value that.”
I have a classic car that I work on and one of the companies that I buy from regularly online is Car Builder Solutions. I was impressed by this note from them recently - just being honest and keeping their customers in the picture.
Your communication doesn’t need to be complex. It just needs to be from the heart.
I suggest that you need to be communicating with them like never before. They are your lifeblood - so treat them as a member of your family!
Share with them what you're doing. Share with them things that they might find reason to feel optimistic about. If nothing else they will certainly look upon you more favourably than other of their customers.
You need to be sharing with them also exactly what’s going on. But most importantly, your strategy for the future, your optimism about what you believe you can achieve, how you’re going to change the organisation, maybe new markets, new products new ways of doing things - to be successful from here on.
Also what you want from now - and maybe in the future.
I can’t finish without reminding you of some of the things that Juanita and I talked about in our last newsletter:
There have been some markets, some sectors that have been irretrievably damaged through this period. There are big companies and organisations that have simply disappeared.
There’s a golden rule of business: “Sell to people who’ve got money”.
You need to find who they are - and they may not be the same people as before. There have been sectors and companies that have thrived through this period and are doing extremely well - focus on them.
By the way, Juanita and I have an ongoing list of the “winners” and “losers” here.
Sales & Marketing
We cannot emphasise this strongly enough:
What you and your organisation need now more than ever before are basic sales and marketing skills.
Your company needs to be knocking on both new and old doors and If you believe you or your people have not had the training they need on basic sales skills, get them that now. Invest in them. Invest in yourself, because that is what is needed now.
You need to get the business thriving again.
Finally, please keep smiling. The media, in my opinion, have simply been a disgrace throughout this entire period. They have been wholly negative about everything. They really haven’t helped individuals, organisations or nations move forward. We now need to be positive. We now need to be smiling.
A colleague of mine, Roger Martin-Fagg is an economist, regularly does economic forecasts, and rarely gets it wrong. Here is his latest which you’ll see is remarkably upbeat.
Some of this report is somewhat technical but even if you just read the headlines, it should make you feel better because we may just be coming out of this nightmare much faster than any of us think and be in a position where we can really kick on forward thereafter.
Please try and enjoy everyday. Please try and make sure every one of your employees, as far as possible, enjoy everyday!