Right now, we are all experiencing rapid change and a high level of uncertainty. For some of us, these challenges are the biggest ones we’ve ever faced in our business – and possibly our lifetime. How does one keep a clear head amid all this chaos? The one key skill we need to draw on now more than ever before is our ability to think critically.
Critical thinking is balancing fact and intuition to solve problems with a commitment to high standards of excellence. It ties the needs of today to the needs of the long-term future and is a proactive approach to problem-solving rather than reactive. Critical thinking considers both emotion and logic and helps you stay open-minded to consider many options. It allows you to think deeper past your daily surface-level thinking to find lasting solutions.
Critical thinking is not just for management. As remote and virtual offices continue to reign precedence over the next few months, now is the time for everyone to step up – not only to self-manage and self-lead while working from home, but to offer new ideas and solutions to the organization as a whole. Your front-line workers will have a unique perspective, be sure to include them in your conversations.
Areas to think more deeply and long term:
Think critically about your business model. Can it compete in the virtual revolution? COVID-19 has sped up the online shift by 5-10 years, and contactless-ly conducting business will be the new normal. Instead of finding short-term solutions that may work until your storefront is fully functioning, find ways that you can continue to do business online.
What new opportunities can you take advantage of? How can you leverage your current resources that may be sitting idle or untapped due to current government or health restrictions? Can you scale your company into different lines of business that may be in higher demand right now?
Your business development:
By now, your marketing message needs to have shifted to show empathy and community togetherness. Now is not the time for a hard sale approach. Remember, regardless of who your target market is, COVID-19 is first and foremost a human issue rather than a business issue. A portion of your target market has had a loved one who has had the virus, who has possibly passed away from complications due to it or has lost their job because of it. Think critically on how you can frame your marketing message to highlight how you can help and serve your customers, and how your company can add value to them during this difficult time.
Now is the time to step up your customer service experience. Repeat business is crucial during times of economic hardship – it’s a lot cheaper to keep existing customers than it is to find new ones, and right now your customers are looking for the comfort and the convenience of doing business with companies they know and trust. How will you out-serve your competition? How can you wow your customers so they continue to come back time and time again?
People don’t quit jobs, they quit their bosses. How you lead your team during this time can either create a bond of loyalty and trust that is stronger than ever or drive great employees to look elsewhere. While using your head to find new solutions for your business, don’t forget to use your heart as well. Think critically about employee retention – what do you need to do to keep as many of them employed during this financial hardship?
Your employees may be struggling to keep their productivity levels high while sharing their work environment with family or roommates. Or, they may be in a front-line worker feeling anxiety and fear when coming in contact with people each day. What tools and training can you provide them with to be as efficient as possible while understanding the challenges they are facing? Strong leadership will help to keep your employees motivated and engaged and will attract the right people if/when you are hiring.
Do your processes need to be updated to reflect the changes you are making in your business model? And, do your processes need to be updated to accommodate a virtual work environment? You may find that a virtual environment could lead to more efficiencies (think of all those in-person meetings that are now sufficed with a quick email). How else can you take advantage of our current situation?
Invest in project management technology that will help you keep track of procedures, workflows, sales funnel, and content management in a collaborative remote environment. Remember that you lead PEOPLE and manage PROCESSES. If you feel your team members are not performing at their best, take a look at your processes to see if adjustments could be made there. Then, find ways to motivate your team to keep them engaged and focused.
Take some time to think critically about your purpose, your values, and why you do what you do. Why do you exist as a company? Think about the greater good your business exists to serve and create, the bigger picture that your company is working towards, and the culture that you have cultivated within your organization. Times will get better if you continue to adapt – how can you serve your mission in a new way?
These are the 5 disciplines for exponential growth.
By focusing your critical thinking on these five areas of your business, your company will become more sustainable, predictable, stable, consistent and emotionally connected to your customers, your community and your team. It will help you to adapt to the changing times so your business can survive and thrive through economic challenges. Learn more in my book Pulling Profits Out of a Hat or call for a complimentary 5 Disciplines Assessment to see where your organization needs greater discipline in the new world.