Businesses have faced major issues over the last couple of months of the Coronavirus lockdown – minimising their cost base, paying their employees, just making sure they survive. Pretty soon, the next challenge will become how prepared you are as the business landscape opens up again but still with restrictions in place.
Whatever your own circumstances, here are some tips to help your preparedness as lockdown gradually eases:
Now is a good time to make sure you have a good understanding of your budgets and projected workflow at least for the rest of this year.
It’s hard to second guess the Government, but try to think about potential scenarios, and factor those in your plans.
Many businesses may need to consider a loan to get back on their feet, Government-sponsored or otherwise. If this is the case for you, make sure you are clear on the terms, and utilise your accountant.
Things to consider:
- Can you cut costs without compromising your business offer?
- Do you need to review your suppliers, insurance, rent arrangements etc.? Can you negotiate new terms?
- Are you on top of your invoicing? Follow up any outstanding payments and complete any new job quotes.
Everyone has been affected by COVID-19, either financially or personally. It is therefore important to take a softly-softly approach with your staff. Show patience and kindness. Take an interest in their personal situations – this may just mean that they will put in that extra bit of effort for you.
Let them know what the next steps for the business are going to be, As always, they will be key to your success in the future so treat them like adults.
Things to consider:
- Will your employees have challenges that may restrict them from returning to work?
- Is there an opportunity to contact others who have been let go by their employers? On the flip side, do you need to help some of your staff find work elsewhere if your order book has reduced?
- Is this a chance to review your team? Some may be showing clear leadership potential during this crisis whilst others have become more unreliable. What does this mean for your future staffing?
3. Health and Safety
It is imperative that you operate your business within the Government guidelines, as these fluctuate in the coming months. The health and safety of your employees and clients should be at the forefront of your thinking as lockdown changes, and you must clearly demonstrate leadership.
Be clear how the Government requirements apply to your operating environment. Importantly, communicate to staff why it is important to abide by these
Things to consider:
- Do you need to source PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) for you employees to make their environment safe?
- What hygiene measures do you have in place, such as hand sanitiser?
- Is it feasible to maintain social distancing? If not, what measures are you putting in place to mitigate this? Working from home, for example, is clear mitigation.
- If staff don’t feel safe coming back to work, what are your contingency arrangements?
- Do you need to create a risk plan that shows how you plan to keep customers and staff safe? If you put this on your website, this will give all stakeholders confidence that you have Health and Safety front and centre.
When you pick up the baton with customers again, be conscious that they will also have found the lockdown a challenge.
If you haven’t already done so, let them know that you are ready and prepared to get going. Be sure to inform them that you will be following Health and Safety guidance. This will give them confidence in your preparedness.
Things to consider:
- Is there now an opportunity to review your client base?
- Are there options to diversify your client base or even your market more generally?
5. New Thinking
Big changes have occurred for many businesses as a result of COVID-19. Do you just return to exactly as before? Or is now the time for new thinking?
The best thing to do would be to keep an open mind. Take your time to think where new opportunities might arise.
Things to consider:
- Should you continue to update your processes?
- What new technology might help your business going forward? Zoom etc.
- How do you keep alive the team camaraderie that was stimulated by those enforced meetings on Zoom?
Many people are facing the same challenges. So, be sure to keep in touch with your networks, mentors and coaches. Solutions may occur more readily from a collective thought process.
There are going to be long-term effects from the pandemic for many businesses. Some may need to close, for example. Even in these cases, in the long run, it may give rise to new and exciting innovation.
Being prepared as the lockdown winds down will be essential to remaining positive and identifying new opportunities. You may also be able to ditch what did not work well before. If you view it as a new start, this positive thinking will help you to confront the challenge ahead.
Please contact me if you feel that you could benefit from reviewing how you are going to tackle the opportunities and threats that face us all.
So, here we are, towards the end of the U.K.’s 3-week lockdown and we are still none the wiser as to when and how these difficult times will end. I’ve gone through a range of emotions and feelings as this crisis as unfolded. From initially sceptical to overly cautious. From worrying about keeping my business going to maintaining a sense of calm and perspective. Boredom. Enjoyment. More time with the kids. Less focus. More focus. Zoom beers. Zoom business calls. Time to re-connect with friends (virtually). Even, a bit of an existential crisis thrown in, but I managed to stave that one off.
As these conflicting experiences show, it’s been a battle for me with both my inner and outer world. All in all, however, I’m a pretty unflappable character. But I do know through speaking to others that many of you are feeling either fearful, anxious, lonely, depressed, emotionally drained, uncertain or a combination of these.
And then, of course, there are those people who will take it all in their stride! If that is you, then that is wonderful. My thoughts and reflections may not be for you right now, but they might just help the next time you are faced with a crisis where you cannot just ‘ride the wave’.
So, here are some pointers as to what’s been keeping me going and steering me away from that existential crisis! (Maybe there’s something in here to help you too).
1. Social not Emotional Distancing
Most of us are doing our best to live by the ‘new rules’ but that does not mean that you cannot reach out to people (via technology) to maintain connections. This could potentially be even more important if you live alone. If you’re feeling particularly anxious or low, be sure to speak with family and friends to create greater positivity.
I’ve used these difficult times to catch up with old friends who I may not have spoken to for a long time due to the usual rhythms of life. In current circumstances, I’d suggest your old friends may love to hear from you too. What else would they be doing at the moment?
2. Create a Schedule
This will enable you to avoid the tendency to slip into laziness and malaise. It gives you a structure in which to work. It also gives you mini-goals to achieve through the course of each day. Your routine will naturally need to suit you and the family. Also, ensure that you are flexible and accept that some days you may not feel like doing anything. Don’t be hard on yourself and go back to the schedule the next day.
3. Eat (and Drink) Well
My social media is full of memes about how we’re all going to be overweight alcoholics by the end of this. That won’t happen to me, honest! But only because I’ve made this area a priority. Be mindful and conscious of what you are consuming. You could even use this time to focus on healthily regenerating your body now that the constant pressures of work and the ‘merry-go-round’ may have subsided.
4. Get Moving
Any type of exercise reduces stress levels and can enhance your mood. I’ve been maintaining my regular running schedule that I had already had in place. To be honest, it would be quite easy to slack off, but I know that I would regret that when things get back to normal. Other things you may do include fitness routines in the house, or regular walks in the neighbourhood (now that you have the time).
5. Turn off the Screens
When the Coronavirus situation kicked off, I’ll admit that I was a little bit transfixed to the news cycle. Since then, I’ve changed this around so that I only check in once or twice a day to see what is going on. I can certainly vouch that this made an instant impact on my mood and wellbeing, and research also backs this approach to dealing with all things ‘media’. Turn off the mood hoover!
6. Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Some people are overwhelmed by what is happening which creates increased anxiety. Try not to control all aspects of what is happening. So many things are not within our control and being flexible will help us to relax.
If you know people who might be particularly affected by lacking control, try to reassure them and provide perspective on the situation. For example. I have friends and family who are either autistic or who have OCD, and I am certain that just listening to their concerns has had a positive effect on them.
7. Be Thankful
Looking at the positive in a situation sometimes balance out all the concerns. Seeing the good aspects of the situation will provide you with some peace. It can also toughen your thought process so that you are able to remain positive when things start to return to normal.
I know that I am in a better position than a lot of people simply by the fact of having a garden. I also the fact that I have close family around me. It is easy to focus on the downsides but use this as an opportunity to value what you do have, and what you may have previously taken for granted.
8. Be Productive and Try Something New
I’ve been thinking about utilising these difficult times to hone my guitar skills. I should have time to do this starting next week. I’ve not picked it up in years, but it’s always been niggling in the back of my mind. You may want to pick up a musical instrument too or learn a language or meditate. Whatever it is, using this time to pursue an interest that you’ve had on the back burner will mean that you will be ready to go back to normal with more enthusiasm.
Please contact me if you feel that you could benefit from an objective viewpoint to work through these or similar issues.
The impending changes to our way of life and working practices due to the Coronavirus Pandemic are a little overwhelming. Do you have plans and support in place to help you through this crisis? If you don’t, a Business Coach can guide you through this period of change. Alternatively, a Life Coach can help you address the challenges in your personal life that may now come your way.
Changes to Management
As the workforce moves to home-based working, your management systems will change. You need to develop plans within days as opposed to months. Therefore, getting some expert help and advice is a sensible idea. These changes may be in place for many months, or even years if we move towards more remote working. So, getting it right now is vital for the future. My own background in HR Management means that I am well-placed to advise you. Making the correct decisions to take from a legal and operational perspective will be vital.
Maintaining morale is imperative if you are hoping to keep business flowing during this enforced break. This will build resilience and hope into your relationship with your colleagues. In turn, this will keep productivity high and reduce procrastination and indifference.
Fears of job security and concerns for loved ones, associated with the virus itself, will affect colleagues. Getting professional help to those feeling stressed will help you to support those colleagues. Bear in mind that you will need them to rebuild the business after we all go back to normal. Online coaching sessions, such as those I carry out, are one useful way to boost morale and maintain co-worker’s mental health, wellbeing and trust.
Working from home
Staying away from the workplace for extended periods will evidently mean some losses, in staff numbers, customers and cash flow. This can have a profound effect on the business overall. The move to working from home will mean changes to communication and workdays. The work day may need to become flexible as many people now have their children at home since the school closures last week.
Relationships and trust
Social distancing will affect the relationships that you had with your clients and customers. Hopefully, the trust you built up previously will pay dividends as they will tend to stay with you during this period of isolation.
On a personal level, your relationships, with the people you isolated with, will develop. Before it gets tense and stressful, it could be worth investing in some one-to-one sessions with a Life Coach. These online sessions can be a lifeline.
Some changes will be out of your control, such as supplier issues. Prepare for differences in working practices and timescales, when working with complementary businesses.
The Government is adding finance packages for businesses. However, the economy as a whole will undoubtedly change and so will influence your own business. Getting prepared will require determination and grit. Having someone to support you whilst you do this would be a great advantage.
Please contact me if you feel that you could benefit from a review of your current situation.
Working in an educational setting can mean that you could benefit from all the skills that a coach has to offer. Receiving some business coaching will help you develop your own skills. It will also aid you in developing a better environment for education and learning.
Business coaching for education
School, colleges, and universities are very similar to businesses. They have a hierarchy and sets of rules in safety and conduct. There is also guidance for expectations to follow. Budgeting, management of people and tight deadlines also figure in both environments. So, it makes sense to utilise the skills of a Business Coach. They can assist you with getting a handle on educational administration and any staff issues that may arise.
Coaching to become a better listener
Learning active listening skills will help you to interact better within a school environment. We only hear around 40% of what another person is saying if we do not hone our listening skills. We often do not take in body language which can be very revealing as to the other person’s intentions. This can lead to misunderstanding and confusion. By working with a Business Coach, you will enhance your ability to listen.
Learn to ask the right questions
To elicit more than a yes or no, a good questioner knows how to frame questions. These are usually ‘open’ with a leading Who, What, Where, How, When, or Which. The respondent then is more likely to provide more expansive answers. Getting good business coaching will steer you to ask better questions. It will also enable you to know how to deal with the answers. Being able to dig beneath the surface when questioning means you will gain deeper insight into your staff and pupils.
Coaching in resourcefulness
Being resourceful is useful in all occupations, so having this skill will inevitably help you. Knowing how to deal with uncooperative respondents or difficult pupils by using different tactics is a great skill to develop. Business Coaches can help provide new perspectives for you, as they come from a different starting point.
Empathy within education
It is hard to build trust without empathy. It is also hard to work in an educational setting without trust. If, as an educator, you suffer from a lack of respect, then your learners will not absorb information. Learning true empathetic ability takes time and practice. This is where a Coach can work with you. They will have worked with business owners on projects relying on developing the trust of their staff. They can bring this experience to your situation.
Being able to look at yourself, analyse what areas you need to work on and which skills to hone is a marvellous tool. It will help you to become a better teacher and staff member. Holding sessions with a Coach allows you to look inside yourself. This enables you to be honest about your abilities and true motivations.
Developing the ability to self-analyse also means you will be able to assess external situations more easily. So, you will start to perform a better analysis in order to make better decisions. Doing this will lead to better working systems. It will also lead to smoother day to day running of your working life.
If you would like to talk through your situation with a Business Coach, then please contact me to arrange an introductory call about your options.