As a company with expertise in guiding and advising CEOs and business executives through difficult marketing decisions, we’re used to reacting and responding to a wide range of internal and external issues that create VUCA – volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.
COVID-19 is VUCA in the extreme. It’s caused us to pause, reflect, and reinforce what our purpose is, and who we want to be as a company and as individuals. Our purpose is resonating with us more deeply than ever. We are committed to helping others succeed. Today, it means taking extra care to help our family, friends, and community – checking in on our friends and neighbours, accommodating revised childcare and elderly care responsibilities, and being a positive person to whom others can go for reassurance and understanding.
Helping others succeed during the COVID-19 crisis also means that we must go above and beyond to help clients. For example:
- Know and respect their corporate policies, particularly if they’ve created new policies to react to a specific event like COVID-19.
- Check in regularly and offer support when needed.
- Avoid all in-person meetings to protect everyone’s health. However, don’t just switch meetings to phone calls. Encourage people to connect with you and with their own teams using freely available video tools. Even if you can’t meet in person, you can still enjoy face time. Besides, everyone needs regular face time to stay mentally healthy.
- Try to genuinely understand the impact this is having on their business and them personally. Both their business and personal priorities may have shifted. They may not be able to move forward quickly, or at all, with the initiatives you have planned with them. Now is the time to be flexible and do your best to accommodate their needs.
- Always think about ways that you can take stress off their plate.
Helping our clients requires that we also take care of ourselves. We’ve asked our associates to do a number of things:
- Do not go to the office unless it’s absolutely necessary. And if so, avoid mass transit by driving yourself or taking a taxi/Uber/Lyft. Avoid direct contact with all surfaces until you get to your office and once you arrive, immediately wash your hands and clean your digital devices. Wash your hands several times while you’re there, and wash your hands as soon as you return home.
- If you have free time, offer help to your colleagues. Some of them may be struggling with additional personal responsibilities and will need your assistance.
- Even if you are not in the office, be available and responsive during normal working hours.
- Continue to be punctual for phone calls and virtual meetings.
- Use group engagement tools to stay in touch and chat with all of your colleagues, particularly those who may be on their own, or who may be struggling with their mental health. Take special care to engage with newer employees who may still not know everyone or all the routines and processes. Say Good Morning at the start of your day, share jokes and dog photos, and continue with the personal interactions that you would normally do during a regular in-the-office day.
- Don’t be a superhero. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, or disconnected, ask a colleague or manager for help or use your Employee Assistance Plan.
- Stay safe and stay well. And if you aren’t feeling well, let your manager know immediately.
Lastly, here are a few resources that may be helpful.
- Read Gretchen Rubin’s blog about becoming happier, healthier, and more productive, including her post on how to stay calm during the COVID crisis. Have a listen to her Happier Podcast as well.
- Listen to Morneau Shepell’s webinars on building resilience while under quarantine, or building resilience in uncertain times.
- Become familiar with Big White Wall, an initiative funded by the Ontario government to provide an anonymous support community with trained practitioners.
- Look into Bounce Back, a website offering people practical ways to help with stress and anxiety. It’s supported by CMHA and the Government of Ontario.
We’re in for some very tough times but we can work together, help each other, and be kind and empathetic along the way. We are #BetterTogether.