Businesses have fared in many different ways with the changes they have made during the Coronavirus pandemic. The changes they’ve had to make, and perhaps more importantly, the way they handle future change will have a huge impact on their business success post-pandemic.
Changes were unavoidable
Service businesses will have no doubt had to make vast changes in the way they offer their services and make even more use of any online presence to attract and deal with the clients they procure. The more effectively they have made adaptations and learned lessons during this time will be a factor in how they recover.
Of course, retail and hospitality businesses have suffered greatly, but for those who have been able to change focus and reinvent the way they operate, offering takeaway and even partnering with delivery services will likely hold many valuable strategies to use going forward as we head into the new normal.
A common approach to change
The businesses that have coped better and possibly even thrived during the changes thrust upon them are likely to be those that have embraced the need for change, been flexible in their way of thinking and been prepared to move outside their normal means of operation. Looking at ways to run their whole business differently has been necessary from supply chains, staffing, distribution, reporting and even management.
The important points for any business to learn as the wider world starts to reopen is that we will never fully revert to the way we were. Businesses that cannot accept this will struggle; we face many challenges ahead, not just from COVID-19but also through changes in attitude in every aspect. Business owners, workers and managers have all had to look hard at how they deal with their workload, their remoteness from colleagues and make changes to keep afloat.
What is needed now is to learn from the past. Without dwelling too much, it is likely to be the need for speed. If you examine changes made when the need was urgent, look at who was involved, what levels of authorisations were skipped, which employees suddenly showed a whole new level of ability and stepped up with answers. You will be able to enshrine many of the new ways effectively to your onward approach.
You will want to recover revenue, rebuild and rethink your organisation and accelerate digital solution adoption to protect you going forward. We sincerely hope that we will not see the likes of COVID-19 again, but without predicting the future, we are best to plan for the unexpected as though it was normal.
Making decisions quickly
One of the first things that likely happened because of COVID-19 was the establishment of meetings that are more regular and team check ins, bringing a brisker pace to decision-making and action. Meetings that are more regular establish a higher need for agility and accountability amongst both staff and managers, and going forward in a similar vein will foster the same momentum. The old adage “time is money”, has probably been quoted many times through pandemic planning, and businesses that have reduced their lead and development times will have benefitted and gained valuable tools to take forward. Make these changes permanent and your business could benefit going forward.
Rethinking supply chains and having one or more back up options should your first choice fail will ensure continuity of supply. COVID-19 has shown the fragility of many operations’ supply chains, and likely seen businesses collaborate in ways that they otherwise may not have, both up and down the supply chain.
The need for technology to manage operations, to handle customers and back office repetitive tasks is perhaps more important now than before. Business that are able to automate much of their daily administration, reporting and evaluation tools will free up resources to tackle other needs. A clear and direct sales and order path must be a priority to free up sales personnel to actual sell.
Your staff will have seen many changes to working practices and procedures over the last few months, and their ability to cope with the changes will have been one of the factors that affected how your business ran and adapted to lockdown measures. The chances are you will have seen some staff show a natural ability and aptitude to cope with change, they rose to the challenge and took decisions and actions that really made a difference to the business. Small teams created quickly that combined people perhaps who haven’t worked together before, and the resulting decisions and better delivery times has shown that sometimes a business has become too bogged down in the process rather than the result. Decisions have been actioned with less circuitry and often less data and definitely less certainty than likely ever seen before. Done carefully, companies that bring this into everyday play will reap benefits over their competitors.
Consider expanding on your leadership development training to ensure every employees’ skills are maximised within your business. You never know when one of them may have to rise to a new challenge.
Being creative and encouraging innovation is essential; just because you always have found business one way, or used a particular sales channel, the flexibility you’ve had to employ in terms of how you’ve made sales could give you a new business model worthy of taking forward.
For example, many wholesale food businesses have survived lockdown when the demand for their products took a dive during lockdown, following the closure of the hospitality sector businesses. Many started to sell retail via online home delivery. They made a change that ensured they not only survived but also thrived, opening up a revenue stream and securing another angle that they could continue at little cost as they move forward.
Change management consultants may tell you your business would benefit from taking on board business recovery strategies and employee cross training to ensure they thrive as we adapt to the new normal. An agile and forward thinking business will see greater results, so be ready to move quickly and embrace whatever your new way of working needs to be.