Insights

Business Recovery in the New Normal

Over the last 6-8 weeks I’ve been conscious of the large number of CV19 related emails landing in my inbox sharing articles, inviting me to webinars or to complete a survey. In this time I’ve read many articles about business, the economy and CV19, and have posted quite a few as well, and now I feel like I’m beginning to suffer from Advice Fatigue Syndrome.

When I’m faced with yet another piece on the impact of the pandemic, my sense of Advice Fatigue Syndrome, AFS in short, is accompanied by a sharp exhalation of breath and a slump in my shoulders. My thoughts now can be synthesised into the one question – am I going to learn something new, gain a different perspective or will this cover the same content just packaged and presented differently?

As a trained coach, I’ve recognised this set of non-verbal cues, noticed this is not the ‘normal’ me and decided to do something different. Instead of reading the next article, research report or interview, I thought I’d go back over (some of) these articles to find and pull out insights and themes.

Interestingly enough the 7 big themes that come through most consistently aren’t new. They represent good practices that have been commonly acknowledged for some time. So, here’s a checklist to refer to as we all engage in the march to business and economic recovery in the new normal:

Top of the list is COMMUNICATION. In a world that has quickly become remote and virtual, how and what leaders communicate has never been more critical. In a world that is riven with uncertainty and new challenges, employees are looking for clear messaging delivered with humility and empathy. In-authenticity is easy to spot when delivered via a video-camera!

Next comes CONNECT WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS – after time taken in stabilising your business into a new, lockdown, social distanced operating model, it is important to reconnect and (re)build the connections with customers. Adjust product and service offering, and revise pricing and incentives based on new customer and market data to find ways to help clients in their new-normal and to find new openings and markets.

The next four themes, for me, overlap and you can’t look at one without it impacting the others:

RE-IMAGINE YOUR BUSINESS MODEL – look from the outside-in to assess what the world needs most, consider how you can pivot and re-engineer your business to meet those needs. Also, review and audit your customer experience and map the new-normal needs for your existing products and services.

QUESTION YOUR STRATEGY – ask yourself if the goals and vision you had, and the strategies to deliver these are still relevant. Assess what has diminished or increased in importance, and what is still central to your business success.

STRESS TEST YOUR ORGANISATION STRUCTURE & OPERATING MODEL -this one is critical and often under-addressed especially during cost-cutting. Take time to challenge the existing organisation design and operating model against the evolving business climate and strategic demands. Look to identify silos, bottlenecks and double handling that create inefficiencies, restrict innovation and reduce customer satisfaction.

Another big theme that is inevitable during significant, unexpected, economic downturns is AGGRESSIVE COST CUTTING. With liquidity and cash flow concerns at the forefront of many conversations this should be more than mothballing assets and laying-off employees. Consider measures that preserve hard-earned skills and capabilities in your organisation, such as, compensation & benefit realignment and organisational spend analysis, these will be valuable on the road to recovery and growth. Make sure to assess if action taken today will have consequences that damage the business now or in the future.

Keep in mind the phrase “two heads are better than one” and look to engage your employees to explore options and generate ideas to improve cost management and preserve cash. Imagine what a well-coordinated and aligned organisation activity involving 100s or even 1000s can do to quickly re-engineer a company, to reduce spend and minimise wastage?

The final big theme relates to DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION. This one may seem counter-intuitive to some people, but now is the time to review and accelerate your digital strategy. Digitalisation should be central to your customer delivery model, organisational efficiency and cost management framework.

None of the above is new or radical, just good business sense. As is always the case, when engaging in change, invest time in exploring the unintended consequences and surface barriers to ensure you gain alignment with the key stakeholders and influencers, and plan how you will address the identified issues that will impact success.

WHAT to do is one thing, HOW to do these things with skill, authenticity and efficiency will always differentiate good leadership and the successful, innovative and creative sector-leading players.

In summary, focus on:

  • • Communication
  • • Connect with your customers
  • • Re-imagine your business model
  • • Question your strategy
  • • Stress test your organisation structure and operating model
  • • Aggressive cost cutting
  • • Digital Transformation

 

My learning from this process:

  • • it’s important to be curious about how others see and propose to address certain situations and circumstances, but at some point, you have to synthesise what you know and move to action
  • • recognise when your energy levels are depleted, step back to work out why, think about the different options for moving forward and then come up with a strategy to find your way forward

 

What are you noticing during this disruptive period?

Lesz Sikorski

  • People Strategist, coach and advisor with 30 years global MNC experience in leading change and organisation development
  • Certificated professional coach
  • Lived on 2 continents, worked on 6 and visited over 45 countries
  • Previous roles have included HR Director APAC, Group Head of Organisational Development, Project Director – Change & Development and Global Programme Manager, Operational Improvement