As you may have noticed, things are
a bit different.
Some might even use words like
“tough” “difficult” “hard.”
Those would be accurate words to
describe the world right now.
What advice would you give to a company to get
through this successfully — full of brilliant
professionals— with loved ones and families?
What advice would you give to executives — whose
job it is to ensure everyone keeps their jobs?
I get a lot of advice on this topic, articles sent to me,
specific information for me as a CEO, and other
information to help get through this tough, difficult,
and hard time.
There is some good news. Many of our executives,
myself included, have been through challenging times
before. They are all different, just like this one.
We have made it to where we are today because we
studied what others did right. We copied what they did
that worked and avoided what they did that didn’t work.
We’ve watched the companies that did well.
We’ve also watched the companies that had layoffs or
went out of business. We have a very good
understanding of what will make our company
successful and what won’t.
When studying the companies that not only made it
through previous crises, but actually grew or did
better, there is very specific advice for executives (and
companies) to follow. That advice is listed below.
It comes from various sources from over the years,
Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Company.com,
Emails from other executives, Entrepreneur.com,
interviews with CEOs, etc.
Remember this is advice for executives. None of
this is really all that “new.”
Sometimes though, it helps to read it just one more
time or hear it in a different voice. Some of it is hard
hitting (tough love, kick in the pants stuff) — but
remember that the purpose is to save jobs, help
families, improve lives.
That is serious stuff.
Do something now.
The worst thing you can do is nothing. No matter
what is happening or how bad things look down
the road, ignoring the situation or acting as though
this is “business as usual” is only going to make
It is easy to ignore problems, both personally and
professionally, and hope they will go away. They
won’t. Get off your butt and do something now.
Focus on what you can do and stop wasting time
worrying. Worrying never got anything done.
Focus on what you can get done. Organize. Plan.
Focus on what you can do and stop worrying. Worry is
paralyzing — you sit in your head while your
organization and the people around you feel lost. They
need your leadership — now more than ever. You’ve
heard the phrase “monkey see, monkey do.” When
others see you worry — what do you expect? They will
Pull yourself together and focus on what you can do.
Positive vs. Negative. You have to find a way to stay
positive. You need to focus on where you spend your
time and who you spend it with.
When you only spend your time with people who are
negative, you’ll soon find yourself feeling the same way.
When you spend hours listening to or watching negative
news, you’ll soon find yourself feeling the same way.
Look for people who are positive and upbeat. Look for
ways to do things that increase positivity — comedies,
comedians, things that you enjoy or are fun for you —
do those. Moods and energies are contagious.
Invest in your people. Make sure your people have what they
need. Find out what they want. Find out what they need.
Remember that many of them may sit silent and not tell you.
You may have to follow up with them 100 times. It is worth it.
When your people have what they need, they can get their job
done. When they don’t have what they need, less will get
done. During tough financial times — less work and less done
Invest in your office. Now is the time to invest in your office
space. Paint the walls, finish renovations, hang new signs,
breath new live into your work space.
You’ve got to work more. You may already work
long hours, weekends too. You may feel frustrated
over the sacrifices you have already made for years.
Remember that your company’s survival and the
jobs of everyone in the company rely on how much
your company gets done during a crisis. Every
company that has done well during a crisis has one
— objective — fact — in common — they worked
harder and got more done.
It is the one certain way to weather the storm.
If your company gets more products released,
provides more services, gets more done — it will
survive — better yet, it will do well during the crisis.
It starts with you. If you are not willing to do more
and work more — how will your people feel if you
ask them to. Lead by example, work harder and
get more done.
New products — faster. Amazon, Intel, Lego, and
the list goes on — all of these companies have
thrived during crisis because they focused on
creating products — faster. They worked longer
hours to accomplish this. That may not be popular
with your staff. You didn’t take this job to be
popular or liked. You took this job because you
were willing to put your people and company first.
It is what it is — they may end up hating you — but
they will still have a job. Your job is to save their
You have to be willing to ask them to work longer hours.
You have to find ways to increase the demand for
meeting deadlines or find ways to speed up releases.
Now is the time to get your products and services to
market — faster than ever.
Companies and customers are watching. They want to
work with companies that are moving fast and can meet
the demand placed on them as well. If your organization
is releasing products and getting things done faster — it
will do well — all of the other major companies that
avoided layoffs or downsizing did just that.
Great customer service — internal and external.
When things get stressful — you have to find a way
to keep a smile on your face for the benefit of your
customers and the people you work with. Treat
everyone like a customer — make them right.
Make them feel like they are the most important
person on the planet. People want to work with
people that treat them well — so do just that. It
starts at home with your own company and people
inside of it. Treat your people well and they will be
more likely to treat each other well also.
Stay connected — talk about what is going on — be
transparent. Nothing is worse than not knowing — this leads
to worry and concern and that leads to nothing getting done.
Talk more to your company and those in it. Let them know
what is going on. Let them know what is being done and
why you are doing it. Don’t let them sit out there wondering.
If you are having a bad day — sometimes it is good for
others to see you are human too.
Focus on your purpose. Whatever your company purpose
may be — focus on that. Make sure you rally the team
behind that purpose and stay focused on it.
Share good news. Celebrate wins. When things are
tough or hard — you have to celebrate the good news
Cheer, clap, laugh, smile — make sure that the company
shares in good news. Make sure the company
celebrates success and wins. Winning and good news
is the only way your company knows it is doing well.
Had a good month or quarter financially? Tell your
company. Had great customer feedback? Tell your
Focus on what is right. It is easy to get frustrated by what
is not being done right (what is being done wrong).
Remember that what you focus on is what you will get
more of! Focus on what is right — disregard the negative
every chance you get.
Encourage through positive reinforcement of things done
right — not through punishment of things done wrong.
Let people know you are proud of them — this motivates
teams to reach new heights. Don’t let people know that
you are disappointed in them — this leaves them feeling
like they are in despair or at risk of losing their job.
Personnel Issues: gather all information and then
act fast. You don’t always have the luxury of time
during crisis as it relates to personnel issues. You
have to act and fast. Make sure you have all the
information before making important decisions
about personnel. If there are performance issues
with team members — gather all the information
and then act fast. Waiting or taking too long hurts
the organization and all the other professionals that
are working hard to keep their jobs.
Don’t look for ways to get rid of people — that
creates a toxic environment and makes things scary.
But remember that it is your responsibility to protect
the company and people in it — if there is a person
harming the company — they are making too many
mistakes, not showing up for work, not doing their
job — they may have to go — there is no room for
people that harm a company during a crisis.
People’s jobs and families are depending on you.
Things go wrong? Don’t make excuses — make
things simple. Things will go wrong. Too often
people make excuses for why things didn’t go well.
When you are in charge — you are the one that was
responsible for making sure things went well. It is
no one else’s fault. It is on you. Making excuses or
listing all the reasons why something didn’t get
done right, didn’t get done on time, or didn’t get
done at all… waste of time. Getting upset about it
— also a waste of time.
Focus on finding the exact reason why and then help
others around you. Focus on what you need to do to
change things for the better. Training and understanding
is almost always at the root of why things don’t go right
and ended up wrong.
Rarely is it a situation where someone is purposely out
to get the company. You have to make things simple,
break things down in an easy to understand format.
Only then will you find the cause of confusion that led to
something not getting done right. Do this with patience
and your people will really appreciate the way you