Lately, I keep hearing business owners say, “I can’t wait until things go back to normal.” I often wonder, why we want things to go back to the way they were? Was the business running optimally? If not, then let’s take this unprecedented opportunity to build a better normal in the future.
When else will you have time to work on the business in such a dedicated way?
The COVID-19 pandemic added a layer of isolation and hardship due to our need to cope with this reality collectively while remaining physically distanced. A this stage, many of us have experienced varying levels of the mental health toll (i.e., fear, frustration, anger, anxiety, and depression) associated with our prolonged trauma from this global health crisis. Many of us are running on empty or much lower capacities than we’re used to and still have employees on the payroll.
Capitalize on the silver lining of uncertain times
However, there is a process you can use to capitalize on the silver lining of uncertain times.
Not sure that a silver lining even exists? I can recall a time when I didn’t have time to work on my business, but was forced to anyway.
I spent most of my career in healthcare operations leadership positions. Before I started my consulting company, I took on an operations administration role for a group of urgent care practices. It was a mess. There had been a 70% turnover, patient complaints came in daily, and the clinics were incredibly inefficient. This experience became the proving grounds for the people first strategy I help my clients build in their organizations.
While it was the people first strategy that started to turn the business around, we still had vast operational issues. We made a very conscious and fiscally painful decision to pull ten people out of clinical care for three days so that we could redesign several of our key processes and workflows. Despite having to close a location for three days, the payoff was huge. We were able to redesign our work in a way that yielded efficiencies and changed our business forever.
That is the silver lining of uncertain times. You don’t have to close a location or pull people from their regular work in order to work on the business. You do have to decide that now is the time to focus on what you can control. Now is the time to redesign suboptimal workflows. Now is the time to build the programs you hoped to someday have time to build.
3 Steps to Envision A Better Normal
Before you can capitalize on the silver lining of the pandemic, remember this isn’t the first challenging time you’ve had in your business. Take a few minutes to recall and list five other scary or tough times.
Next to each of those times, write down the lessons you learned. This allows you to reframe your thinking and focus on the lessons, the opportunities, and the successes you’ve already had. Then complete the following three exercises:
Exercise #1: Review ideas
You’ve always had ideas for new programs or product offerings. How many times have you said, “when we have time, I’d love to do _________”?
Well, now is the time. Write down the top five ideas you’ve never had time to work on. Then pick one, yes only one, and get the ball rolling. Involve other team members to flesh out the idea. Determine the vision, the goals, and milestones for success.
Exercise #2: Revisit complaints
Think about what employees or customers complain about. Think about what your complaints and frustrations are. These complaints reveal what is not working in your organization.
They are the cracks in the foundation you haven’t had time to fix. Don’t limit yourself to thinking about workflows. Consider whether your leadership team has the soft skills they need to lead. Consider whether your onboarding program is successful in building alignment and inspiration.
Exercise #3: Determine pivot areas
Determine areas where you need to pivot. Many Healthcare companies are using telehealth for the first time. How does this become part of their long-term care strategy? Explore the different ways your employees are working and how your customers are interacting with your products. Understanding how and where to pivot is the third opportunity to build a stronger company for the future.
These three exercises will start you on the path to envisioning a better normal. The final step is to create the vision and structure of the first 100 days of the new normal. In order for your team to follow, they have to understand where you are going and how you will get there. The clearer you can communicate the vision and the milestones to success, the better and stronger your company will be at living a better normal.
Amy Lafko is a certified Stages of Growth Strategist, TTI Success Insights DISC Certified and 12 Driving Forces® Certified and the founder of Cairn Consulting Solutions. Her specialty is optimizing organizational excellence through employee experience, leadership, and team development.
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