Corona Virus ups and downs
Updated: Jan 30
What a strange time. Like most other people I'm feeling so unsettled by the extreme variations of peoples reactions to this climate. From selfish stockpiling to neighbourly leaflets offering support, it's been a week of extremes.
In a single day, I have been both amazed and totally deflated by people’s actions in these uncertain times.
One the one side: I’ve had the privilege of being part of several different, virtual communities who previously existed to support remote working or self employed/ freelancers, plus another that exists to channel the philanthropic energy of a lovely creative bunch of music and entertainment industry bods.
I’ve been humbled by both the bare vulnerability and honest sharing within these groups and encouraged by the energy and outpouring of support, comfort and offers of help. There’s been an avalanche of guidance, best practice tips and practical tools spliced with humour to keep everyone sane.
On the flip side, I walked into a business meeting full optimism borne from the pragmatic stories of 'we’re in this together, let's make it work for us all', 'collaborating with our supply chain' only to be greatly disappointed by the complete lack of empathy, creativity or will to work on options through this difficult time. I was shocked that they failed to acknowledge or recognise the struggle that both individuals and businesses are faced with, and no sign of a collaborative approach to problem solving.
Nor did it recognise that by sharing the burden it would so obviously benefit them in the long run, from an organisation professing to put community at its heart. I was there to provide guidance: to help assess options and determine the best way forward. But, I found myself slightly enraged and found it hard not to insist they cut all ties with such an unhealthy business relationship.
What a missed opportunity.
Anyway, emotions now calmed and with some time to reflect on all the good stuff still going on, I wanted to capture some of the tips, mantras and reminders I’ll be using to help get us through:
We are all in this together. It will be tough. There will be people who recover quickly and many a lot worse off than you. BUT: there is more than one way to solve any problem and a problem shared is a problem halved. The best solutions come from creativity, creativity comes from diverse and collaborative thinking. Harvard business review explains that cognitive diversity and curiosity in a nurturing and experimental environment are the best qualities for a top problem solving team. So create a safe space, bring in a variety of skills and backgrounds and get talking. We all need community right now. And good deeds now will pay off in the future. Strong brands (personal and business) based on good team efforts WILL survive.
Don’t be an arsehole. If you can’t get the service right now, recognise that your demands for a refund might have the knock-on effect of a business closure. Support each other and particularly think of the smaller brands, places, artists and companies you love and trust. What about a voucher? Pay now, receive later? Discounts for those who show you support? Is there a way to receive it virtually? Any interim options to help weather the storm?
Get creative - to the point above, if you can’t deliver your service or product in the current environment as it was before - are there other ways? McKinsey advises you to “encourage the unreasonable and and cultivate external relationships”. Can you collaborate with someone else for a while to make something a little different until the dust settles? And if your business partners or supply chain don’t want to play nicely - perhaps they aren't the ones for you, Be bold and trust in your strengths. Good honest work will/ has a way of paying off in the long run.
Focus on outcomes - as a manager, trust will be key as your teams work remotely. “Good leaders manage their team’s output, but great ones connect it to desired outcomes as well” (Source: Monday.com) Don’t micromanage, encourage diversity and allow your teams time to come to terms with and adjust to the current, quite frankly, bonkers environment. Quality over quantity. What effort has the most impact? Trust your staff and create an environment based on trust. Its now more important than ever to have clear communications and expectations with your staff and teams [link to contracting]
Re-create those water cooler moments - virtually! The human mind is designed for interaction and communication. Don’t underestimate the value of bumping into a colleague in the kitchen/ on a train, or having that post work meeting/ hallway debrief. How can you encourage remote supportive networking chatter? Use online tools for remote gatherings and be amazed at how little you knew about your colleagues, suppliers, clients and neighbours. Community is the answer.
Don't be an arsehole. Did I say that already? If you’re faced with a difficult situation, look for a creative and mutually beneficial solution. If you’ve had bad news or have bad news to deliver, consider what everyone else is going through already. Share the burden and cushion the message. Ask what others need. Be kind, look for a better way. Build your community. Oh and DON'T be selfish. He who unnecessarily stockpiles loo roll and hand sanitiser better start donating it to those who really need it as any unsightly profits will come back to haunt you.
Be informed & keep learning. There’s so many amazing resources out there. Learning helps the mind relax and builds resilience. But also, check facts, don’t take unnecessary risks and Stay safe people.
And if you’re feeling stuck: I offer a short assessment and quick fix coaching, with COVID-19 discounts and limited free sessions for anyone facing redundancy or laying off staff. Let me help you work out the best solution and a better way to deliver that message. lourobinson-coach.com
Some more useful links & guides to keep you going:
TED Talk: Linda Hill teaching how to manage for a collective creativity: https://www.ted.com/talks/linda_hill_how_to_manage_for_collective_creativity/transcript
Leapers guide for people new to working from home: https://www.leapers.co/resources/little-guides/coronavirus-working-from-home
Mind.com guidance: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing/
Leapers watercooler podcast on dealing with uncertainty: (with an important message highlighting the need to support small businesses that will be disproportionately affected by the current environment in under 7 mins): https://www.leapers.co/podcast/episodes/minicooler/uncertainty
From Dot Dot Dot (the good dots): A collection of ideas and tips based on experience shared by the Dot Dot Dot community of leaders & founders of creative / media / cultural / entertainment businesses to help you get through this: https://www.thegooddots.com/covid-19-tips
Brilliant article (with graphs!) on why social distancing is so important: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/world/corona-simulator/