How to lead your business through the Coronavirus crisis

The Coronavirus has now reached a tipping point where public health systems need to act decisively to contain the growth in new epicentres outside China.

Clearly, the main emphasis is and should be on containing and mitigating the disease itself. But the economic impacts are also significant and starting to have an impact. Over the last few weeks I have been coaching companies with very different degrees of preparedness as they get ready for further disruption. Below I share some lessons I have learned in dealing with similar events.

1. Reframe your understanding on a daily basis

Events are unfolding at an amazing speed with the picture changing on a daily basis. Only a few weeks ago, it looked like the outbreak was mostly confined to China and was being brought under control. More recently, a number of fast-growing epicentres of infection have developed beyond China, potentially necessitating new strategies of mitigation rather than containment. This requires your team to take a view on a daily basis with updated data.

2) Beware of hype

News organisations often focus on what’s new rather than the big picture, and they sometimes don’t distinguish between hard facts, soft facts, and speculation. Yesterday’s news is likely to frame how your company thinks about the crisis today. As you process the latest news, think critically about the source of the information before acting on it.

3) Keep information flowing

In today’s world, employees have direct access to many sources of information. Business leaders might conclude that there is so much information available externally that they don’t need to do anything additional. However, creating and sharing a regularly updated summary of facts and implications is invaluable, so that time is not wasted debating what the facts are.

4) Balance your response across these dimensions:

•  Communications: Employees will likely be exposed to conflicting information and feel confused about the best course of action. Be sure to communicate policies promptly and clearly. Furthermore, communicate information and the reasoning behind policies so that employees gain their own understanding and also take initiative in unanticipated situations.

•  Supply-chain stabilisation: Attempt to stabilise supply chains by using safety stocks, alternative sources, and working with suppliers to solve bottlenecks. Where rapid solutions are not possible, co-develop plans, put in place interim solutions, and communicate plans to all relevant stakeholders.

•  Employee needs: Restrictions on travel will trigger employee needs for access to education, health care and other similar daily provisions. You should anticipate and develop solutions to these and create an information hub where employees can find all the information they need.

•  Travel: Make sure that travel policies are clear in terms of where employees can travel to and for what reasons.

•  Remote work: Be clear on your policies – where they apply, how they will work, and when they will be reviewed.

•  Business forecasting: It’s likely that the crisis will create unpredictable fluctuations. Put in place rapid-reporting cycles so that you can understand how your business is being affected, where mitigation is required, and how quickly operations are recovering.

•  Being part of the bigger solution: Being part of the business community you should support others in your supply chain, industry, community, and local government. Consider how your business can contribute, be it in health care, communications, food, or some other domain.

5) Capture learning’s

Rather than heaving a sigh of relief when the crisis subsides, efforts should be made not to waste a valuable learning opportunity. Even while the crisis is unfolding, responses and impacts should be documented to be later reviewed and lessons distilled.

Download our business checklist to help guide you through the COVID-19 crisis – just click here


" Even while the crisis is unfolding, responses and impacts should be documented to be later reviewed and lessons distilled."

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