The ebbs and flows of the business cycles have been around forever. They are 10 times as tough though, when combined with a health crisis and an economic shut down. That’s the world we live in today.
Working from home (WFH) has been a major adjustment for all of us — your staff and your family members. In fact, due to many circumstances, I know some business leaders who have not been in the office for months — WFH. We are Zooming each other until our smiles hurt. WFH, as well as multiple rounds of furloughs have had a significant impact to everyone’s normal way of life and in how you run the business.
Where to Focus
With all that’s going on in your world, there are five key areas that leaders should remain focused on. Beginning with your customers, have a clear understanding of their status. I place existing customers in three categories.
There are those that have been barely affected by all of this, in fact perhaps they’re even thriving. Those that will return to some sense of normalcy but they are not there yet, and when they get there is yet to be determined. And finally, some that may never come back due to a business model that is no longer feasible.
You should have a good understanding of all of your key customers and what their status is. Knowing this will give you some clarity regarding how much new business you’ll need just to refill the tent.
Your Leadership Team
The second area revolves around your leadership team. They have taken a toll with all of these changes as well. Make sure that they are all-in on the plan forward and capable of providing expertise you actually need today. You need to help them stay focused on Plan A until that point where you are convinced that you need to revert to Plan B. Or as Stephen Covey would say, until that time you determine it’s not another boat and in fact it is the lighthouse.
Your third area of concern is your staff. They will need help keeping their morale up. One simple way may be to just speak with them, and listen to their thoughts, and fears. Another way is to help them focus on being and doing their best every day. From there, the fourth area is to identify any new opportunities you may have. New opportunities with existing clients, new market or verticals, or by introducing new products or services. Edit your plan to include these new efforts and make sure to include reasonable goals and milestones. Be accountable for making these happen.
The fifth area of focus should be on operational excellence. Revisit all of your KPI’s and make sure you’re monitoring and tracking the right things. Share the results with your team and look for ways to improve. Work on enhancing and accelerating your workflow. This is a good time to make sure that all your software and technology are fully utilized and operating in the manner in which they were designed.
Take a hard look at how you process to work. Identify the opportunities that will reduce touches and streamline how work flows from the front door through to the back door. Review your quality control procedures and work to minimize unplanned spoilage. Work to improve your machine makereadies, whether they be in the press room, bindery, mailroom or other areas. Review your best practices and raise the bar for expectations. And finally, monitor and identify the causes of machine stoppages. Having a machine run at its highest speed does you no good if it keeps stopping every 10 minutes due to jams, or other unplanned events.
This is a time for leaders to lead. Focus on the right things. There will be good opportunities for your business going forward, but they may not look like what you’ve seen in the past. You’ll need a sharp set of tools to be effective at winning new business. Keep working on being better at leading, communicating, planning, execution, marketing and sales. Don’t take anything for granted and don’t become complacent. This will be a unique opportunity to capitalize on your experience and earn the business that you’ve worked hard for all these years.
I welcome any thoughts or questions, please add them below or reach out to me directly.
Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic counsel, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at www.philiegroup.com, LinkedIn or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This blog originally published in Printing Impressions.