Five Business Mistakes to Avoid During a Crisis first appeared on Forbes.com.
Despite the fact that businesses are slowly reopening, we don’t yet know the full impact the pandemic will have on both business and our daily lives. What we do know is that more change is to come. Going back to “business as usual” isn’t an option. As we head into the unknown, we must be pragmatic in our approach and move slowly to see what works and what doesn’t. Otherwise, we risk having a negative impact on our employees, partners, customers and business overall.
As you work with your leadership team to create your post-pandemic strategy, be mindful of mistakes that can prohibit you from reaching your ultimate goal of creating the best, most effective work environment (whether in-person or remote) for all involved. Here are five key missteps to avoid:
Keeping Up with the Joneses
The age-old idea of watching the moves and coveting the success of your neighbors can also ring true in the world of business—yet often to its detriment. Of course, it’s important to pay attention to what your peers and competitors are doing, but simply keeping up may not always be the best idea—particularly in an environment of the unknown where they may not be operating with any more insight than you are. This is a huge business mistake.
Despite the fact that a large global organization has chosen to move to an in-office optional policy, for example, it doesn’t mean it will be optimal for your business or industry. The better course of action might be to do the complete opposite. Do the research, look closely at the market you serve and survey your employees to determine how to best move forward versus “keeping up with Joneses.” You’ll better serve your company’s needs — including those of your employees, customers, partners and shareholders.
During times of change, communication is critical to ensuring your key constituents know what is going on with your business activities, what is expected of them and any type of timeline they should expect. There is no such thing as over-communicating during times of crisis. The alternative can significantly halt business productivity. Regardless of what your post-pandemic plan is, be sure you have the right means for getting messages in front of your teams. Not communicating is one of the biggest business mistakes you can make. Video communications, for example, can be a very effective avenue for connecting and engaging with everyone who should be in the know.
Being Too Formal
During defining moments in history, like the one we are in now, striking a balance between being too formal and too casual at work can be an important element in pulling your business through. Given the shift from being physically in the office to everyone working from home, it’s not uncommon for workers to conduct video calls in casual attire—and they should be comfortable doing so. Wearing suits, ties and formal work clothing in a virtual environment might make your employees uncomfortable. Opting for a more casual setting can not only help your leadership team become more real and relatable to your employees and customers, but it can also help reflect your company culture or the one you’d like to build.
While many businesses think they should cut the marketing budget during a crisis due to market volatility, they should think again. Often, uncertain times can create even more opportunities. The right approach is to recognize those opportunities and to capitalize on them. Now more than ever, it’s important to remain relevant and top of mind with your customers and the market. Making data-driven decisions now, rather than waiting out the storm, can create continued demand for your services today and in the future, particularly if you have developed (or can quickly develop) solutions to help companies better navigate the rocky landscape.
In times of crisis, innovations often abound as businesses are forced to adapt at high speed. During Covid-19, we’ve all had to very quickly rethink our work styles, remote office options, technology and infrastructure to support a virtual workforce, operational practices and customer service. Being flexible, agile and adaptable has proved to be an advantage for companies that have let go of the old ways of doing things to embrace reality and try new approaches. Despite the need for rapid action, you should develop a thoughtful strategic plan and execute it in phases based on the principles that guide your business goals and the culture inherent to your organization.
The new—or “next”—normal we face brings with it challenges but also opportunities if they’re approached in the right manner. While it’s clearly important for your business to be agile enough to adapt quickly to ever-changing business scenarios, there are still business mistakes you should be careful to avoid so you can survive and hopefully thrive during and after the pandemic.