The world as we knew it has changed. The old certainties in the workplace have shifted overnight and right now we are all unsure of exactly where this new place is and what it looks like. Time alone will unravel the details of this new reality, but for now senior managers need to do what they are paid to do and take action. The questions is what do you do? Let’s take a look at some basics.
I know it is fashionable to say that customers are the most important people to a business but I beg to differ. You team are the vital element in your business, without them there are no customers. Right now you team are going through an experience like no other they have previously encountered. Your leadership skills are about to be tested as they never have been before, now is your time to shine.
You need to communicate effectively, clearly and often with your team. If you have facts then share them. If you don’t know it is OK to say so. Make time to interact directly with as many of your team as possible. Be highly visible, always approachable and listen to the concerns of the group and individuals. People are worried about their job, their finances their health and their families. You can be the rock, the person who can be trusted, who tells it like it is. Encourage the rest of the management team to follow your example and talk openly to the rest of the workforce. If you or others are working remotely it is even more important to raise your profile. Working from home is new and unsettling for many so your words of encouragement are not going to be wasted. Are the sales team keeping in contact with your customers? They should be, after all sales is all about building relationships and not just taking orders.
Keep in touch with your suppliers. They may be in very difficult circumstances and you need to be aware of any potential or actual changes in their ability to supply you. How robust are your supply chains? You are about to find out so ensure you are on top of the issues. Capacity versus output may have altered out of all recognition but don’t be too hasty to wield the axe, none of us know what the next 6 – 12 months will bring. Now is not the time for major strategic plans, instead think tactically about efficiency and cost control.
As a leader you must be positive. We will get through these trying times and you need to believe that. Sure the world will be different but the vast majority of us will come through to see a changed world with new opportunities. Your positivity will be infectious and give those around you strength. It is therefore vital you take care of your own health and well-being.
In summary, effective communication and high visibility are required now and will be going forward. As a leader you must be attentive, realistic and optimistic even in these dark days. Stay safe out there.
About the Author:
Colin Mclean is a highly experienced Interim Manager with extensive knowledge and understanding of the print sector. A Fellow of Manufacturing Management from Cranfield University in England, he spent the first 20 years of his career in paper and board manufacturing in the UK and Finland. From there he progressed to general management and sales in manufacturing, training, oil & gas and construction before becoming an Interim Manager in 2008. Since then he has completed a number of successful assignments in the print and packaging sectors.
Colin resides in Ireland where he indulges his passion for angling during his free time.
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