One Foot in Today and One Foot in Tomorrow: Planning for the Future in Survival Mode

by Mike O'Neill

COVID-19 left many companies scrambling to adapt in order to stay alive. Leaders found themselves forced to make tough decisions on process changes, budget cuts, and layoffs to keep their company ship from sinking.

Not every company was successful in their attempt to stay afloat, however. The unlucky ones depleted their resources trying to survive the mandatory shutdowns due to COVID-19, and by the time they could legally reopen, they couldn’t afford to keep going. 

With a shoestring budget and iron will, the entrepreneurs who persevered came out on top and are still working hard to grow their businesses despite the ongoing pandemic. 

In the words of Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group:

For those of you who are still standing strong and managed to keep going, keep reading for some tips to help you when you’re planning for the future in survival mode.

3 Tips to Plan for the Future in Survival Mode

Tip #1: Foster a Culture of Continued Training

The most successful companies foster a culture of continued training, empowering their employees to become experts in their roles. 

You can purchase a one-time training program to train your team on the key things that they need to know right now, but ongoing training will keep your team up-to-date no matter what. If you want to see your employees bring their A-game and expertise to the table every day, you have to encourage them to learn continually. 

Staying updated on the latest trends, news, and innovations relevant to their jobs keeps your company ahead of the competition. It makes your employees feel more confident in their roles. It’s also crucial to your company’s continued survival in a time of crisis, such as the one we’re in right now, thanks to COVID.

You can’t plan and prepare for the future or stay ahead of potential problems when your staff is just performing a job. Becoming experts in their roles empowers them to speak up when they notice something wrong vs. keeping it hidden because they can’t articulate what they see in a way upper management can understand.

Come up with a training plan that focuses on the critical things they need to learn right now, and what they need to learn in the months ahead. Prioritize what training they receive based on what will provide them the most benefit first. 

For example, maybe you have an office manager who’s great at making and filling out spreadsheets to track expenses and payroll, but not good when it comes to talking with clients.

Create a training program for your office manager that makes soft skills, such as communication and conflict resolution, a top priority.

Tip #2: Create a Communication Plan

Communication within your organization is critical — crisis or not. But, in the middle of a crisis, you need to change how you communicate with your workforce.

Companies who relied on communication to take place within their own networks on-site found themselves suddenly unable to communicate with their staff when COVID struck. To enable remote work, they had to quickly find new ways to communicate with their teams while working at home or on the go. 

  • Zoom became the go-to method for many businesses looking to conduct virtual meetings.
  • And, software such as Slack made it possible for businesses to instant message their staff individually or in groups. 

Don’t wait until your company is in the middle of a crisis to develop a new communication plan. Test and try out several types of software solutions and speak with providers to determine how and when your company will communicate under normal circumstances, as well as during a crisis. 

Ensure you establish guidelines for behavior and your employees understand what’s OK  and what isn’t when communicating with co-workers and management. You can set rules on hours of the day or days of the week that your staff send messages or plan virtual meetings, and let employees know they can turn off notifications after hours.

Tip #3: Build Decision-Making Processes

As a leader, making decisions is a part of everyday life for you. You’ll make more decisions before lunch than non-leaders have to make in a week. Since there is so much riding on every decision you make, it’s important to establish a decision-making process that you follow every time — especially when the decision you’re making could make or break your company. 

An example of a decision-making process you might use is:

  • Identify the decision you need to make
  • Perform research to determine what choices you have and what the likely outcomes of those choices are
  • Weigh the pros and cons for each available option
  • Pick an option and take action on it
  • Review the results of the action you took to find out if the outcome was as expected

No matter what decision-making process you use, it’s a good idea to have someone to consult with when it comes to crucial decisions that could jeopardize your company’s continued success.

A third-party expert brings a fresh perspective to the table and can help you spot holes or potential problems with your plans. For example, when making decisions about taxes and payroll, you’ll want to consult a CPA. With legal decisions, you’ll need to consult a lawyer. But, when it comes to making day-to-day decisions involving processes and operations, a business coach — like Bench Builders — may be the expert you need.

Get the Help You Need When Planning for the Future in Survival Mode

Planning your company’s future doesn’t have to be stressful and time-consuming. When you sign up for our Get Unstuck and On Target Workshop, you’ll learn what’s holding your company back.

In just four short hours, this workshop will cut through weeks of wondering what to do and guessing. We’ll help you create a plan to overcome challenges and reach your goals successfully.

After completing the workshop, you’ll have a detailed execution plan that outlines all the steps you need to take to get unstuck and on target.

Sign Up for the Get Unstuck & On Target Workshop now. 

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