The five management lessons we learnt in lockdown04/09/2020
By Director, Chris White
Building a rigorous risk assessment programme is a critical part of business leadership – making sure to identify and understand potential challenges before they materialise and there is a solution in place. However, it would be fair to admit that we had not expected a health pandemic to force a work from home order, cause catastrophic ripples across our industry, the graduate jobs market and wider UK economy. Fortunately, our business has managed to react to the challenges Covid-19 presented and continued to thrive – with the experience teaching me a number of new management lessons.
- You can’t plan for a pandemic!
When Covid-19 forced a very quick and abrupt end to what our business had planned for 2020, we knew what was happening was unprecedented. However, our management team quickly borrowed from crisis plans for a number of other eventualities and we were able to calmly and strategically approach our new working reality. In a matter of days we had integrated new internal and external comms practises, moved our Academy training model to an entirely online function and pivoted our services to meet the changing demands of our clients as they too attempted to adjust.
- Small actions can have a big effect
For every business, weathering the storm of Covid-19 was a daunting task. But we quickly learned that in a situation like this, even the smallest of actions can have a big impact. We could not rewrite business plans, repurpose teams and replace class-based training overnight. We chose to first focus on talking to our clients and Spartans – making sure they immediately had what they needed to maintain progress on projects. Reaching out and communicating with our community in the first few days of lockdown was a small task in the grand scheme of things, but it paid huge dividends when it came to defining the bigger steps we then needed to take.
- Resilience is the best business asset
When we first sent people home from our London and Birmingham offices, like many organisations we expected the move to be short-lived. That optimism was misplaced and as months passed it became clear that things were changing every day. We had to stop focussing on getting back to ‘normal’ – we needed to be resilient and motivate our people to were quickly reminded of the value of trusting our people during this time. They are the assets that made the efficient transition to working from home possible, supporting each other when management were dealing with wider business challenges and taking control of their time and tasks to keep our business moving forward. The resilience they built up over this time was extraordinary and I know it will give our teams the capacity to adapt and evolve for years to come.
- Learning to see opportunities in threats
Dwelling on problems causes stress and hampers productivity. Successful entrepreneurs often talk about training your brain to see problems as opportunities and this was a management lesson we all learned in lockdown. We have used the challenging experiences of the last few months as a chance to learn, grow, improve, and adjust in a way that has meant our business is now operating better than ever before.
Put simply, applying creativity to decision making processes makes individuals more effective leaders. The ability to think both analytically and creatively will serve to produce more well-rounded outcomes for the business. We were forced to think creatively about marketing our services in a new working world, which new services we could offer to benefit our clients and how to communicate these changes quickly to our community. While in some ways we had to be mindful of the business changes we made, lockdown offered a great opportunity to try these new things and push the boundaries of what we could do.