The past few months have been challenging for many organizations in both the public and private sectors. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted businesses, governments, schools, and every other aspect of society. For everyone, the primary focus now is survival at all costs the physical, financial, economic, and organizational levels.
In the business world, for example, consumer behavior and market dynamics have drastically changed. The changes have turned the once fertile markets of profit into a desert of zero orders and sales. With less money and fewer transactions going around, many companies have dried up their resources. The situation has led to a domino effect on the economy, leaving many firms bankrupt and people without jobs.
To survive, many of these organizations have implemented changes that are expected to make them more resilient to shifts in the business environment. These changes involve the development of new mindsets and skills among people, acknowledging change as part of business operations, and making learning a strategy and culture of the company. These business survival strategies are seen to be crucial in making companies float in the current sea of economic uncertainties and position them for success in a post-COVID-19 world:
Retooling People for Performance
Many of the top firms have invested in new training for their managers and staff. Some have chosen to build upon existing skill sets while others looked for new competencies to develop among their workers. Of course, there are many to retool personnel such as adopting the 6-step Miick Method of promoting organizational excellence or using the Balanced Scorecard process.
In other firms, they have even repurposed their entire business model. For example, public speakers or motivations gurus have partnered with event organizers and digital marketing companies to create new training products for the online market. In the recent past, motivational speakers often relied on their own in-house staff to do the marketing campaign and organize live events. These days, they need to immerse themselves in the online environment, get their names and services recognized online, and wait for new bookings to be made via marketing groups that specialize in reaching out to online clients.
Given the previous strict lockdowns and the remaining restrictions in public transport and movement, real estate agencies have also revised their sales campaigns. By retraining their real estate agents on how to make online presentations, the industry has seen amazing results. In fact, in the United States, the August 2020 figures indicated that home sales had posted the highest record in the last fourteen years.
Many hotels that were used to receiving tourists and high-profile guests were suddenly confronted by the challenge of zero bookings and reservations. To stop the losses and generate income, some of these high-end to mid-sized hotels have transformed their facilities into paid temporary shelters for medical frontliners while some have been repurposed into COVID-19 quarantine facilities. These reconfigurations have made it a necessity to retrain their key staff from primarily being expert guest relations officers into health care assistants who needed knowledge and skills in medical-grade sanitation protocols and public health practices.
Accepting and Adapting to Change
These businesses were able to respond quickly to the disruptions caused by COVID-19 mainly because they accepted that change was inevitable. For some of the more established companies that have existed profitably for years, the loss of revenues was particularly hard. They had to swiftly figure out how to manage the gaps in their supply chains, how to connect with clients and develop various ways of getting their products and services to customers.
To better adapt to change, some firms even hired experts and counselors who can teach their managers about social and emotional intelligence. They believed that in a pandemic, most people are affected psychologically and emotionally by the uncertain future and fears about the health risks caused by COVID-19. They accepted that work performance will continue to be affected as long as people are forced to stay at home and their freedom of movement is still hampered.
To better manage their staff, managers and supervisors had to learn empathy skills and focus on motivating their employees. While many have successfully adopted a work-from-home arrangement, many still struggle with the sense of isolation and inherent limitations of working online. By recognizing the need to change management approaches, organizations are now helping their people to adapt to changes and slowly but surely improve performance even under a new working environment.
Building a Culture of Lifetime Learning
By fostering a culture of lifetime learning, firms are also sending a message that in any business, the leadership and workforce need to pursue continuous improvement. When companies see learning as a priority, they also provide the time and appropriate budget to follow through. By investing in the development of employees and management, companies reap the benefits by seeing a commensurate level up in performance.
Retooling people, accepting and managing change, and having a learning organizational culture are key strategies for survival and success that all companies need to try. Many have already proven their effectiveness and have seen it in higher production, increased sales, and better worker satisfaction. While COVID-19 will not last and will end one day, the investments made in improving the organizations will yield excellent returns for many years to come.