Ways to Strengthen your Business during COVID-19
Like many of our customers, we have had to change our daily processes to ensure that business continues as smoothly as possible. With hopes that it may help you and your business, we would like to share with you some of the changes we have made to better our business and strengthen our project management and communication skills during these challenging times.
Among many aspects of our business, we have had to change how we communicate and what we communicate with our employees, our customers and our wider community. We have refined and narrowed our company strategy to provide dedicated focus to the most important items. We have also adopted an evolved cadence for building and enhancing our software and services – implementing what is known as “The 20-Mile March.”
Here is our recent experience, and we hope that you will benefit from the lessons we have learned and perhaps implement some of these practical tips to help strengthen your business too.
Regular Communication with Team Members and Customers During Difficult Times is a Must
Here are a few communication tips we have been relying on, during the past several weeks, to keep in touch with our internal and external audiences.
We are finding new ways to support the changed lives of our employees during these times. Keeping them connected to the business and each other has become more important than ever.
The Daily Huddle
Even before we began working from home, this was a key practice for our organization. It is paramount that we continue the same practice now.
Every day, we huddle as a team on Zoom and discuss the ONE most important thing we are working on for the day. This helps us prioritize projects accordingly to stay focused and aligned with other team members. We use this as an opportunity to communicate roadblocks encountered in our day-to-day work for the collective intelligence to resolve.
These huddles are a vital part of our operation, and must take place every workday, no matter what the circumstances. If a team member is not available for the huddle, he or she will coordinate the communication via another representative to ensure that the flow of information continues despite any absences.
This exercise has the additional benefit of helping us, and our colleagues, feel less isolated. Every department continues to practice this daily routine.
New Communication Channels
We have started using Slack and Facebook Workplace more regularly. Our team members regularly post work-from-home tips, news about company changes, and positive messages on these channels. While we can no longer smile in passing at a colleague in the corridor or discuss some news around the water cooler, we can still talk to our colleagues and share work news – we just have to use a different medium.
Our CEO has implemented a weekly Q&A session, where employees can ask questions about the Company’s strategy, recent operational changes, and COVID-19 news. We are promoting transparency around our business strategy, encouraging everyone to be open about their concerns and to share ideas on ways to strengthen the business during these times.
We also use these opportunities to share our top-level weekly key performance indicators with our entire team. By providing them with information about the health of our company in many different functional areas, we bring a deeper understanding of our strategy, and keep everyone united and up to date on progress towards our goals.
As with our employees, we recognize that the needs of our customers have changed. Here are some of the things we are doing differently to further support our customers during these times:
A Change in Tone and Emphasis
We have re-framed our customer communications to emphasize how we can help with:
· working from home
· sharing information
· changing business operations
This is not the time to focus on promoting our business or our software, and we would prefer to talk about how we can help the legal community during this time.
It is important that our customers hear from us regularly and know that we are doing what we can to offer additional support, resources, and tools at this time. It is a careful balance between sending enough emails so it is clear that we are here if needed, and over-communicating to the point of inconvenience.
Webinars, Live Online Training, and Virtual Events
Since we cannot visit our customers in person, we have had to change how we interact with them. We are now offering more webinars, live online training courses, and virtual user group meetings. We recognize that some of our customers may have a bit of downtime and want to use it to enhance their skills and knowledge. Learning how business systems can better serve your firm is a great way to get the most of downtime and prepare for the future all at once. This also offers our customers an opportunity to be part of a community (albeit a virtual one).
Shift Strategy if Needed, and Align All Work to Focus on Achieving Specific Goals
Refinement & Focus
Like many businesses, we have shifted our focus and strategy to better serve our customers under these unusual circumstances. We know that while they are working from home, they may have some unique software support needs. To accommodate, we have taken measures to be even more agile in our customer support and as receptive as ever to their valuable feedback.
While working even harder to provide the best possible service to our customers, we are also taking this time to continue improvements to our software, processes, internal systems, and day-to-day operations.
Our team recently held our quarterly strategy meeting. Usually we set 3-month, 6-month, and 12-month goals. This time, we took a decision to focus specifically on the next 6 months with laser-like intensity. We are calling this “The Refinement Phase.”
During our strategy meeting, we set five main company goals. These goals are communicated to the entire company. Involving all members of our team ensures alignment and a unified approach to achieving the outcomes.
The goals were immediately shared with every single employee in a virtual town hall. This happens at the beginning of every quarter. Feedback was requested – all employees were encouraged to comment and provide feedback. Sometimes a lone dissenting voice can provide a moment of clarity previously overlooked.
Although we have set objectives for the next 6 months, we will still be meeting at the end of the first 3 months to discuss any adjustments as needed by the business.
We are now laser-focused on key company objectives.
Every person in our company can contribute to the 6-month goals that have been set. The goals are specific but provide opportunity for all departments to be creative and contribute to achieving these goals. Every employee is encouraged to take ownership of a piece of a company goal, aligning them with overall company objectives.
This framework encourages regular and dedicated employee input. We are all linked to the company’s success over the coming months.
Define and Begin "The 20-Mile March."
A New Pace
We have adopted a new pace for our company’s progress: “The 20-Mile March.” The 20-Mile March is a concept developed in the book Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck – Why Some Thrive Despite Them All, by Jim Collins. In this book, Collins evaluates companies that prevail in turbulent times. Their success was achieved by self-imposing a rigorous performance mark to hit with great consistency—like hiking across the United States by marching at least twenty miles a day, every day. The philosophy is that the march imposes order amidst disorder, discipline amidst chaos, and consistency amidst uncertainty.
Collins states, “The 20-Mile March is more than a philosophy. It’s about having concrete, clear, intelligent and rigorously pursued performance mechanisms that you keep on track.” A good 20-Mile March has seven key characteristics:
1. Clear performance markers.
2. Self-imposed constraints.
3. Appropriate to specific enterprise.
4. Largely within the team or company’s control to achieve.
5. A proper time frame – long enough to manage, yet short enough to have teeth.
6. Imposed by the company or team on itself, not by external forces.
7. Achieved with high consistency.
We encourage all business leaders reading this to implement these performance mechanisms and keep an even, consistent pace of progress with their teams over the coming months. This provides a comforting structure for teams to rely on, helps avoid burnout during challenging times, and keeps everyone in the business on track with achieving important business goals.
We hope that this has provided you with some ideas on what changes you can implement to help navigate this challenging period.
We appreciate that businesses experience different issues and need various solutions to suit their specific situations. If you would like to share practical tips that are working for your company during these times, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you.
Remember to stay positive. Look forward to the future. And keep marching.