Choosing your lifeboat team: Making tough decisions for your business to survive COVID-19

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The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our world with devastating speed, and it continues to redefine the global business world. It has forced many business owners to make some very tough decisions. This includes whether to downsize, both in terms of the number of souls and the size of office required. Another being whether to pivot the business now or later and other equally drastic changes to survive the economic pandemic which is fast developing.  

No one knows how bad or how long this global economic crisis will be or will last for with certainty. 

Recessions – and even depressions, are like sailing a ship right through a storm.  You know that eventually, you will return back into the sunshine, you just have to get through the storm, as quickly as possible. The problem is that you don’t know how bad or how big the storm is! So you need to be sure that whatever rations you have with you at the beginning will be enough to sustain you until you reach the other side.

So, how do we move forward to survive? How do we decide which colleagues we need to keep in order to save the business?

Now is the time for Calm, Rational and smart leadership especially if you have to choose who to take with you on your Survival Lifeboat. Under these extreme conditions, length of service, seniority, how good a performer used to be, all may not be the right selection criteria.

business | COVID-19 | Lay offs | Coronavirus
Rather than having several directors and senior managers, opting to keep a single manager with a few keen and agile executives could be what your business needs to survive.

You might be inclined to keep experienced directors and senior managers. However, they are usually the most expensive people on your payroll. Further, they may have been away from the frontlines for too long. As such, they may not have those valuable close customer connections, which are essential right now. Hence, maybe just having a single manager with a few keen and agile executives could be what your business needs to survive. 

Beyond skills, you will need people with the right attitude, passion, energy, and commitment to last the journey through the storm. Your ship doesn’t have any room for passengers. It isn’t a luxury cruise ship. It’s a survival lifeboat! If you are to survive this journey, then you will need to use whatever resources you have in a smart and efficient manner. Of course, that’s not to say skills aren’t essential. But when you’re making the tough calls, choose colleagues who complement your skillset and not duplicate your own. 

Making tough but smart decisions for the survival of your business

As an entrepreneur, you should think back to when you first started. It’s time to use all those entrepreneurial skills which you used to start your business once again. Remember, that many large and successful companies such as Netflix, Mailchimp, Airbnb and even Microsoft all started during a recession!

business | COVID-19 | Lay offs | Coronavirus
Some of the most successful companies today were born during a recession. The pandemic services as a test of leadership. Entrepreneurs need to use the skills they used to start their business and make tough but smart decisions to survive. (Image credits: Techspot)

Of course, it is important that you follow the legal procedure of doing things right when it comes to salary cuts and deferments. Such actions can only be done with the agreement of the individual employee. It may be fair to offer to refund all or some of the salary cuts, maybe with a small bonus if and when the company returns to better times, as many surely will.

It’s never easy to let good, loyal and hardworking colleagues go. But if you are in survival mode now, then you owe it to those who will remain that you will maximize the resources available on the lifeboat to get you through the storm and back to safe shores with sunshine. Ultimately, this pandemic is a test of leadership skills. A challenging one, where tough yet smart decisions must be made to give your business every chance to survive and thrive again. 

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