As I start to write this post, it's the beginning of September in what has been the weirdest year I can remember. I've been working from home for the past 6 years, but even I found it strange that everyone else was suddenly doing the same. Likewise, I've always loved a Zoom call, but doing everything virtually was a bit too much at times. And that's not even thinking about the new and complicated juggling act that we've had to do. So, let's take some time to think about how we can best prepare ourselves for the rest of this year and whatever it's got left to throw at us. Here's our basic guide to getting ready.
The why and the what
My first step in helping any business feel more prepared is to go back to basics and revisit their core purpose. This purpose encapsulates why a business, social enterprise, department or other organisational unit exists. And while this might seem set in stone, it can definitely change over time. After this period of enormous disruption, it's worth taking some time to reflect on why your organisation exists, and whether you're living up to those expectations. Ask yourself whether your stated purpose still rings true, or whether there's anything you want to change.
Once you've confirmed your purpose, the next step is take a look at your strategy – or what you're going to do differently over the next period to achieve your purpose. For too many organisations, strategy is a 5-yearly exercise that is largely ticking a box. But that's never enough, and especially not today. Your strategy should be flexible enough to enable you to change what you're doing in response to different circumstances – and what could be more different than a global pandemic? So, brush down your strategic plan and really scrutinise it. Is it realistic? Achievable? Or will you have to narrow down - or broaden out - your activities?
We've helped a range of organisations with their strategy development and implementation. Our strategy services page sets out how we can help you.
My recommended next step is to look beyond the 'what' you do to 'how' you do it, captured in your business processes. Processes can often be overlooked or opportunities to try new things ignored; we've all heard those claims of 'we've always done it this way' and 'we tried that 10 years ago and it didn't work'. What these responses fail to take into account is change - in technology and automation, in staff skills, and customer expectations. Given what's happened so far in 2020, it's a time like no other to take a close look at how you do things and to reflect on whether you could do them better.
Sometimes - and now is one of those times - it pays to take a step back from your operations and look at them as a whole. This might sound daunting and a little over-the-top. But understanding how you do things will give you the insight you need to make big decisions, like the almost inevitable restructuring that many businesses will be facing as the furlough payments come to an end. The light at the end of the tunnel is that process review doesn't have to be a complex process. In fact, the best process reviews are those that are straightforward, driven by common sense, and informed by process users, be they staff or customers.
We have an established track record of helping clients review their processes and restructure their offices. Find out how we've helped other organisations – and can help you – on our business process services page.
We're definitely not an HR consultancy, but we do understand the power that communicating openly with your staff and asking for their opinion can have. Now more than ever is your chance to really shine for your staff, as they adjust to yet another situation. Some will be wanting to return to the regular office situation as quickly as possible, but others will prefer to stay in their new home-based workplaces. Finding ways to communicate with your staff so that everyone, no matter where their primary place of work is, feels equally engaged and valued, will be essential.
Of course, 'who' goes beyond your staff to your customers and clients, so you'll also need to consider how you promote and market your business in this new environment. We all saw the shift during the early stages of lockdown to communities supporting each other. Will this remain a focus? Will people continue to prefer supporting local producers? And what will this mean for your business? It's important to create the time and space to understand what has changed for your customers and the changes this calls for in the ways you communicate.
We've worked with organisations – large and small – on staff engagement and customer communication. Our communications services page sets out what we can do for you.
In short, we're here to help you shift your thinking to whatever the rest of 2020 and beyond has to throw at us. So get in touch. We'd be delighted to talk!