Over the last 12 months we have gone from a thriving economy to one that went into shock and has emerged arguable faster than ever could have been predicted when the international borders were first closed in March. The share market crashed and then recovered the fastest in history and property was predicted to drop by 30% in Brisbane and the peak of the concern of the pandemic to reaching record highs and record number of people at open home.
What stood out to me is that the businesses that had spent time to understand what their purpose is and what their values are and built a culture around these rebounded quickly. Before I continue though this is not necessarily the case for all businesses. The pandemic had an effect on some industries that effectively changed the industry forever and caused significant financial hardship to others but no matter what industry I do believe that if you survived the pandemic you will come out stronger for the experience.
Having a purpose that the team is aligned to enabled business owners to have conversations with their respective teams about remuneration and potential short term cuts. I witnessed both side of this when an owner that was seen by his team as authoritarian and goal was to make more money informed the team about pending short term pay cuts at, they were disappointed and openly questioned whether he was doing the same thing. The other side was when an owner showed a forecast and explained that by sacrificing now it will put them in a position to deliver on their purpose and that the management team were taking a bigger cut as they believed in the purpose and the team. It was well received, and you could see the team buy in to the vision. True to their word when they understood more the impacts that COVID would have on their business they reinstated the prior pay rates for the team but not management team. Interestingly they did not reinstate the pay rates for management until a month later, not that this was discussed with the team. Not only was this a clear sign of a team that was aligned to a purpose but high-level leadership from the management team.
The second lesson was that the saying “culture will eat strategy for breakfast” is without a doubt true. The question is how do you build a great culture, I will cover this in details in a blog article at a later date. However, the keys things I believe are well articulated purpose, values that are actually lived, transparency, visual management and celebrating success.
The third lesson that I observed is that open communication with all members in a team provided significant advantages in that it addressed peoples concerns quickly and enabled them to focus on the task at hand rather than worrying about the latest news headline that unemployment was predicted to sore in Australia. One owner I remember promptly asking everyone to stand at their desks after reading one such headline; he matter of fact stated that he had just read that and wanted to ensure everyone that their employment was safe and to listen to him rather that then a headline; however if you had any concerns come and see him as he didn’t want anyone stressing. The team clearly appreciated it and responded accordingly.
Businesses that had these three items covered are well positioned to grow as more than likely they had little if any staff turnover, they have a culture that has only been enhanced and a team that has laser like focus on the overarching purpose of the business.