There are some early signs across countries and regions around the world that the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is perhaps coming under reasonable control.
The harshest of all lockdowns, imposed on the city of Wuhan in China; the centre of the global outbreak; have now been lifted by the Chinese government, allowing flights and train services in and out of the city.
In Germany, the national government has slowly and cautiously eased lockdown measures; allowing bookshops, florists, fashion stores, and some other small shops to reopen.
In the UK, the national government has indicated that there are possible chances that lockdown restrictions could be slowly and gradually relaxed starting mid-May.
In Sweden, the national government chose not to enforce lockdown. Instead, it adopted a strategy to advise Swedes to adopt reasonable social distancing practice. Swedes officials claim that COVID-19 infection in the country is stabilising; though the adopted strategy may have backfired as the country records its highest daily coronavirus death toll of 185 yesterday.
As the total number of COVID-19 cases generally starts to drop globally, the number of recoveries continues to rise, and the COVID-19 pandemic curve is flattening in several countries and regions, this would be a very good time for leaders to identify, assess, and make decisions on processes, procedures, resources, and actions that could help shape the future of their businesses and organisations in the post-coronavirus era and beyond.
After a crisis you need to get back to normal, and that can be tricky.
I’d previously discussed tips on how to effectively lead your team, business, and organisation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In this article, I thought it would be useful to discuss some tips on how to effectively lead your business or organisation after the COVID-19 crisis:
Apply security patches & updates across your enterprise
Several of your employees would have taken some business equipment home with them, so that they could continue to effectively and efficiently work from home during the lockdown.
As people return to work, they bring their respective devices (laptops, mobile phones, tablets, and even virtual environments) back to work with them, and would simply connect these endpoints to your corporate network.
This scenario could quite easily be the harbinger of a terrible nightmare for your business; a potentially critical risk that you’d need to effectively mitigate against.
With a good enterprise-level patch manager, all devices and systems connected to your entire network can be scanned, missing security patches and updates detected (for applications and operating systems), and relevant/appropriate patches/updates applied accordingly, as defined in your policies.
Strict compliance with your IT policies and procedures should be required here.
But be very careful and thorough! A poorly configured patches or updates applied across your network could cause severe disruptions and possibly failures to your business operations.
Stay connected to your stakeholders (not just shareholders)
As I’d previously mentioned, one of the core competencies of a trusted leader during a crisis is building an atmosphere of trust and confidence. The same rule applies after a crisis.
Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.
As we approach the tail-end of the Response Phase of the coronavirus crisis, now would be a good time to proactively kick-off planning activities and actions for the next phase – the Recovery Phase (and I dare say, the Building Phase?).
Building strong and mutually-respected relationships with your suppliers, your employees, your investors, your clients, your distributors, and every person or entity within your cycle of business operations.
Miscommunication is the root of a lot of trouble. You need someone who communicates well, and who also understands the issues.
Establish sound communication strategies for how to relay what your business plans to do next, how you plan to execute the plans, what objectives your plans aim to achieve, what/who you need to help make the plans successful, and when you need all these pieces to start coming together.
You need to send forth relevant, appropriate and timely messages, and also be willing to listen and follow through with key conversations; keep communication and consultation channels open & active.
Collaborate, co-operate, and communicate more often, with clarity and purpose.
At a time like this, over-communicate is overrated!
Have a Remote Work (i.e. telework) policy and procedures in place
With lockdown measures in place in several countries and regions, a very large number of people were compelled to work from home, work remotely, or telework.
It’s reasonable to say that such working practice was new to several businesses, and took many other businesses and organisations by surprise; without an established telework policy and procedures; or best practices; in place.
Allowing employees to telework during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a learning point for lots of businesses and organisations. And the practice is here to stay.
Therefore, establishing fitting telework policy and procedures; that are build on best practices and allow for increased job flexibility for your employees; should be on your to-do list.
A Crisis Management Plan is not an Incident Response Plan
There have been some quite heated debates amongst leaders on whether a crisis management plan is the same as an incident response plan.
Yes, of course, a crisis is an incident. But an incident management plan is not necessarily a crisis management plan.
One could argue that a crisis management plan is a seamless and well-blended combo of an incident management plan, a disaster recovery plan, a business continuity plan, and, to some extent, a risk management plan. But it’s certainly not one without the others.
In several businesses and organisations, certain critical services; e.g. Finance services, IT services; are always expected (or assumed) to be available regardless of emergencies, crisis situations, or limited resources. This very objective forms a key part of the holistic plans (i.e. CM, IM, DR, BC, and RM plans).
I’d say that it is best practice to have a crisis management plan in place; alongside the other important plans that support effective and smooth critical business operations.
Perhaps you need to implement ISO-22301 Guidelines within your organisation?
ISO 22301 is applicable to all organizations, regardless of size, industry or nature of business. It is also relevant to certification and regulatory bodies as it enables them to assess an organization’s ability to meet its legal or regulatory requirements.
Leverage relevant and applicable Coronavirus Relief Scheme
Several national and regional governments have established schemes to help businesses and organisations; of different sizes and in various sectors; survive the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
These schemes, or variations thereof, already exist in several countries including the US, the UK, Germany, France, and Canada.
If you’re a small business; or if your business or organisation satisfies set-out criteria; it may be useful to leverage aids and assistance available under applicable scheme.
Have a two-tier board system in place
Does your business or organisation need a supervisory board?
A supervisory board is made up of non-executive directors that work very closely with (and assist) the executive directors to help ensure key business objectives/policies are tracked from inception to execution, by providing timely and invaluable advice.
Non-executive directors who don’t see the crisis coming; that is a crisis in itself.
Both the executive board and the supervisory board form what’s called the two-tier board system. Of course, the executive board should always be in charge, and fully accountable for enterprise-level decisions and outcomes.
If all goes well, the board and non-executive directors form a kind of one-tier board during a crisis situation, in which non-executive directors get different responsibilities…. This changes nothing in the role of a non-executive director as such; that will always be to give advice, to test and approve.
Know your lemons from your oranges
In the midst of all there is to do, it probably easy to inadvertently take your eyes off the ball, particularly, regarding quite a few other important matters like regulatory and compliance requirements, and increased malicious cyber activities that stem from the COVID-19 crisis.
At times like these, matters such as these may not necessarily be on top of your to-do list.
Getting your business back on winning ways with innovative and well-planned and executed strategies is very important.
But these matters should certainly be somewhere on your priority list, because they are important and could quite easily make situations worse if and when they ever go wrong.
Right now, lockdown measures in your location may have been lifted, are about to be lifted, or not even planned to be lifted very soon.
But the fact remains that these measures will eventually be lifted, and life would gradually return to normal.
So, at the end, all businesses and organisations must be ready for the imminent change.
And, with the right set of plans and actions, you and your team can be confident that you’re all prepared and setup for success in the new order.
Our research shows that three of the four qualities of a great business leader are largely intuitive: (1) sets vision and strategy; (2) drives growth; and (3) displays financial acumen. The fourth is managing crises. [This fourth quality] is underappreciated, overlooked, and often not even one of the top requirements – until a crisis hits.
Are there some other insightful and important tips you’d like to add? Share your thoughts and views.
Stay safe. Stay productive. Lead your team from the front. Lead your team to the next phase.