All of us are facing unprecedented challenges in many ways. The COVID-19 health crisis and resultant economic impact on our businesses can seem overwhelming when we look at it in its entirety.
In times like these, we have to make some very difficult decisions about our operations, our staffing and our survival. So how do we approach these challenges? As hard as it may seem right now, we need to put emotion aside and make decisions based upon the best information we have available to us. A systematic approach to decision making will allow us to move through this time more decisively and hopefully come out the other side in a position to rebuild and reorganize. Here are some things to consider:
- Assess where you are. Take stock of cash flow, business opportunities (or possible losses), threats to existing and future revenue streams, supply chains and staffing requirements. Being in tune with where you are from a business financial health standpoint will allow you to make informed decisions.
- How can you hang onto business? What steps can you take to partner with those who have relied on your products and services in the past? What are their current needs and what can you do to support them? During a crisis such as this one, relationships become far more important than things. Your business relationships should be strong enough that you are sensitive to your business partners’ challenges as well as your own.
- Decide what you need to do. What areas of operation need to be cut back? What areas will have to grow because of increased demands for your services during this time? What area of your operation are you able to scrutinize for expense cuts and savings? How will these changes affect staffing?
- Look at this as an opportunity to change some things for the better. When you look at the various areas of operation for your business, ask yourself three questions. The answers you get will help you decide how to move forward in restructuring for efficiency and effectiveness.
- If we just started doing this today, would we do it like this?
- Would we do it differently?
- Would we not do it at all?
- Build a plan for the future. Economic patterns are cyclical. This health pandemic will eventually pass. Things will start to return to normal at some point, although the speed of that is up for debate. As much as you can, plan for what a return to “normal” will look like. What areas of your operation do you think will return first? What do you need to do to be ready for that eventuality?
- Look to businesses outside your industry for creative solutions. If you only look for solutions to your current challenges from within your service group, you will only get what everybody in your situation is doing. Look around for the creative ways other industries and service providers are meeting this challenge. Leverage those ideas that have merit and may be useful in your business.
Remember, necessity is the mother of invention. We all need to be creative so we can survive, and eventually thrive again.
Chuck Mazzitti is the Executive Director and co-founder of Mazzitti & Sullivan EAP Services, a comprehensive Employee Assistance Program that also provides management and HR consultations and staff development services.