In business? Time to survive!

Whether you have a small or medium sized business chances are you are dealing with a situation you’ve not had experience of before. Practically speaking as a small business owner, you need to focus on tasks that generate cash flow, that’s the only way to keep your business on track isn’t it? You and I know that how those tasks are executed is the difference between your business thriving or barely surviving in these difficult times. 

Mindset is the invisible key to resilience in hard times. What do I mean by mindset? We all think that what we can’t see doesn’t have a strong effect on us, however let me give you an example as to how mindset affects us. One scenario could be that the work flow in the business has reduced to 35% and you’ve reached a tipping point, you know it’s not sustainable. What do you do? You have to shed staff, this leads you into another dilemma. What other fixed costs can you shed before looking at staff? 

There’s no guarantee there will be a vaccine next summer. So, if your work can be done remotely, is now the time to consider a new way of working post covid 19? You need to put things in place now that are crisis critical. Yet these will also form the foundations of how your business will be conducted in the future. What is it you can do now to keep the business afloat and strengthen the business going forward? One thing is reduce fixed costs. Why would you use an office and risk a small group of employees being off ill because of a close confirmed contact. Why risk the disruption to your business? Put more clearly, how much is to going to cost you if some of your team members have to isolate for 14 days? What if 2 or 3 of them become ill? How will that impact your finances when they can’t work from home due to illness? One critical psychological effect of not getting this right is: 

Increased anxiety in the workforce. The part of the brain that responds to perceived and actual threat is generally going to be on alert for everybody during this pandemic. The consequence of this is that the more often our brain is scanning for threat, the less capable we are on focussing on other things. That’s because the part of the brain that scans is on hyper alert, rather than allowing us to use more complex problem-solving areas that require concentration and focus. Click here to understand how the brain works:

Those owner/managers who believe people can only work in a working environment might actually have a trust issue! Trust isn’t a blind thing, it’s based on mutual experiences. Which means that we might trust one situation or person in a given situation more than another. However, if you have a blanket reaction that says “I don’t trust employees unless I see them in front of me!” the way they react, will be a reflection of your belief in them.  

Trust is one of the earliest building blocks of our personality. Before the age of 3 we have all developed a sense of whether the world is generally safe or unsafe. This blueprint forms part of our unconscious beliefs and our conscious thoughts and actions when we respond as adults to people and situations. Those employers who have been able to use the more complex decision-making part of their brain during this pandemic, have behaved in ways that help their employees, to know they are trusted, i.e. to work remotely. Others are getting a completely different message when they are being told to go into the work despite there not being a need.  

What message are you giving your staff? 

If you don’t trust your staff, these might be the consequences: resentment, feeling under-valued, feeling unable to challenge, feeling unsafe in their role, etc. These are all things that activate the ‘threat alert’ part of the brain (amygdala) and hinder staff from thinking clearly, staying focussed and coming up with creative ideas. This can cause a breakdown in the psychological contract between an employee and their employer, the consequence of this is that your best people become a ‘flight risk’. Can you afford to lose them when you most need them? Which looks like now, but actually is going to be when we all come out of this pandemic when jobs with competitors will be on the market. 

If your management style is based on trusting your employees, in the main, people respect your trust of them and feel safe enough to know that everybody is in this together. Even though people are working remotely, that trust, pulls a team together. It also promotes loyalty and cohesion, as you know both are important for productivity. It reduces the risk of your best employees not looking to your competitors in 6 months’ time. 

However, if you have to let somebody go, be alert to the business value of what you’re letting go. If a newer person in your business brings more value at this particular point in time than a more established employee, who does it make sense to let go of? 

You could take pro-active steps to talk to your staff about reducing time instead of losing all their skills. At times like this, if people can manage financially to be put on 70% it will improve staff morale to keep everyone on a 3.5/4 day week rather than a 5 day a week. Be present (don’t do this by email) spend time explaining to staff why you’re doing this and what the costs to individuals and the business will be if you don’t. Be clear that you’re all in it together, for example you might be taking a cut in salary as well and that this is about keeping people in jobs and the business sustained. Then, you have to give them an option to stay or not under the new circumstances. Depending on what you say and crucially, how you say it, your employees will gain a feeling of team solidarity. Make sure there’s time for questions and answers, be alert to the power imbalance in the employer/employee relationship. A great employer knows when to minimise the imbalance psychologically and build team strength, now is one of those times. 

If you’re all working from home, make a point of treating this as a project management exercise and organise virtual team meetings at least once a week. E.g. Monday morning meetings help employees focus on the tasks for the new week. It also helps them to bookmark their work time from their personal time. Keep it focussed but informal and invite the team to voice ideas about what is or isn’t working from their perspective. It also gives you an opportunity to boost morale for the forthcoming week and/or make Friday lunchtime meetings an acknowledgment of progress, and plan together for the following week.  

We mentor business owners and managers to help them deal specifically with their own mindset and to manage the challenges of how fear can stop their staff from thinking and being productive. 

We have a free 30-minute video course you can watch by clicking the following link: 

We have been working remotely since March with private consultations via Skype or Zoom, to find out how we can help you, email us [email protected] or call us for a confidential chat on 01625 786026. You can also call Adriana directly on +447980 667103.  

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