Getting through whilst keeping people engaged

16 April 2020 Posted by: Patrick Woods Posted In: Risk, Crisis management

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What a few weeks it’s been.

For some people, successfully maintaining customer relationships whilst balancing the domestic
priorities associated with homeworking has been their principal focus. For others, it has been
dropping out of their business temporarily having been furloughed or worse still as a result of illness.
For everyone, the past few weeks has involved a deeply uncomfortable period of change.

We also know that further change is coming. But, because this crisis and the resulting impacts are
likely to be with us for some time, so many individuals are likely to experience an extended period of
stress. Beyond that, the future is unusually uncertain with lots of speculation about the new normal
and what it might look like. How to maintain our own morale and in so doing keep our people fully
engaged with the challenges facing our businesses may sometimes feel daunting.

Some practical suggestions may be helpful.

• Begin by accepting that in light of the unique nature of the current crisis, stress relief
mechanisms that have been successful in the past may not be working right now.
• Lots of 1 to 1 calls with colleagues will be both necessary and useful.
• Use such interaction to be sure you know your colleagues, their strengths and weaknesses
and their current stress points.
• Be alert to situations where team members may not be pulling together and watch out for
signs that individuals may have had their confidence undermined.
• To re-establish trust and/or confidence, perhaps introduce a small task that will allow both
to be rebuilt. But in so doing, be careful to set people up for success, not failure.
• The process of furloughing may have been a contributing factor here, so be careful how
people are reintroduced into your organisation. Play your part in welcoming and reintegrating them.

Spare a thought also for your suppliers and customers who are just as likely to have experienced
some, if not all of the above. For your customers in particular, the lifeblood of your business, take
special care to understand the stresses that may have emerged in your relationship with them
especially in the early days of the crisis that you may not even be aware of. Now that the initial
phase of the crisis has passed, it’s important to quickly understand and acknowledge where you may
have disappointed a customer, so you can begin to rebuild the relationship between you both.

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