Insights

Where do we go from here? Business recovery requires consistency

Posted by
Angela Carmichael
Insights

Where do we go from here? Business recovery requires consistency

Écrit par
Angela Carmichael

In recent weeks there has been a lot of talk about the extent to which pandemic playbooks have helped us respond to this global crisis. Was the healthcare system ready? Which politicians are responding better than others? Is government doing enough to support Canadians and employers? What the hell is happening in Canadian nursing homes? Did the World Health Organization act swiftly enough? The right time to answer these questions isn’t in the middle of a pandemic. However, you can rest assured that scores of government inquiries will soon be launched when the time is right and so-called “experts” will step up and offer sage advice as to how we must do better next time. 

While the political leadership and systemic issues underlying these questions will take months (if not years) to resolve, organizational leadership will soon be in the spotlight as we all turn from Zoom and Webex and contemplate a return to work. This business recovery phase will provide more immediate assessments of how well businesses are navigating this crucial stage. 

Anyone who has ever created a crisis plan or has worked through a crisis, albeit much less complex than a global pandemic, knows that the best laid plans are never enough. And for many organizations – private or public – we were all likely flat-footed on this one. Governments across Canada and around the world are starting to talk about re-opening in stages. While we are still likely several weeks (perhaps seven months away) from returning to some new level of normal, many leaders – whether they are small business owners or CEOs of publicly traded companies – have spent the last several weeks making really hard decisions, some of which have permanent consequences, while others, we can only hope will be temporary.

While some leaders were able to stand firm in early days and promise their employees job security through this crisis, many, like my own, could not. In a matter of weeks, the economy literally grinded to a halt and with the uncertainty of what lies ahead, many businesses were forced to act quickly, basing their actions on the worst-case scenario.

The truth is, our workplaces will not look the same and the impact of the decisions we made during this period will have a lasting impact on our employees and in effect, our clients, too. It is safe to say that we all had to change the way we operate to keep our employees safe.

The question we now face as business leaders is "where do we go from here?" Are we moving into the recovery phase of this crisis? As a communications firm with a thriving crisis communications practice, the one question ultimately asked by clients is “when can we go back to business as normal?" The answer to the “recovery” question is never simple, and more often than not, a company’s ability to bounce back is dependent on how they handled the crisis in the first place.

The same will hold true of this pandemic. Governments and individuals will ultimately decide when it is acceptable for us to return to work in some capacity, and that will certainly impact a company’s economic recovery. The war against COVID-19 is far from over and until there is a vaccine, progress will be won and lost in the months and possibly years ahead. The companies and leaders that will recover best are those that managed the pandemic with consistency, transparency and honesty right from beginning and through to the bitter end. The ones that will thrive will be those that demonstrated compassion for employees, customers and the community at large.   

Like many companies across Canada, we too are starting to have discussions about what recovery might start to look like for us. It will be slow, and while we will not be the same after this ordeal, we will be stronger. I know this because we were consistent throughout. As a team, we communicated openly, honestly and often with each other. We shared laughs together, we cried together and we were strong for each other. I know that will continue once we are back in some semblance of an office setting.

I don’t have the answers to questions about how our political leaders or the health care system responded to the pandemic, but I do know that in any crisis, whether a pandemic, a food recall, a plane crash or a natural disaster, good leadership is not judged by government-appointed committees or courts of law, but by the people closest to the organization: employees and customers. Those who manage with a steady hand, empathy, and a willingness to do the right thing will bounce back quickly and recover well.

Those who choose to lead through crisis with good spreadsheet management typically lose their biggest and best assets of all: their people.

Looking for more communications guidance during the COVID-19 recovery period? Check out our communication evaluation checklist which asks a series of simple questions to help you determine what communications are right for your brand right now.

In recent weeks there has been a lot of talk about the extent to which pandemic playbooks have helped us respond to this global crisis. Was the healthcare system ready? Which politicians are responding better than others? Is government doing enough to support Canadians and employers? What the hell is happening in Canadian nursing homes? Did the World Health Organization act swiftly enough? The right time to answer these questions isn’t in the middle of a pandemic. However, you can rest assured that scores of government inquiries will soon be launched when the time is right and so-called “experts” will step up and offer sage advice as to how we must do better next time. 

While the political leadership and systemic issues underlying these questions will take months (if not years) to resolve, organizational leadership will soon be in the spotlight as we all turn from Zoom and Webex and contemplate a return to work. This business recovery phase will provide more immediate assessments of how well businesses are navigating this crucial stage. 

Anyone who has ever created a crisis plan or has worked through a crisis, albeit much less complex than a global pandemic, knows that the best laid plans are never enough. And for many organizations – private or public – we were all likely flat-footed on this one. Governments across Canada and around the world are starting to talk about re-opening in stages. While we are still likely several weeks (perhaps seven months away) from returning to some new level of normal, many leaders – whether they are small business owners or CEOs of publicly traded companies – have spent the last several weeks making really hard decisions, some of which have permanent consequences, while others, we can only hope will be temporary.

While some leaders were able to stand firm in early days and promise their employees job security through this crisis, many, like my own, could not. In a matter of weeks, the economy literally grinded to a halt and with the uncertainty of what lies ahead, many businesses were forced to act quickly, basing their actions on the worst-case scenario.

The truth is, our workplaces will not look the same and the impact of the decisions we made during this period will have a lasting impact on our employees and in effect, our clients, too. It is safe to say that we all had to change the way we operate to keep our employees safe.

The question we now face as business leaders is "where do we go from here?" Are we moving into the recovery phase of this crisis? As a communications firm with a thriving crisis communications practice, the one question ultimately asked by clients is “when can we go back to business as normal?" The answer to the “recovery” question is never simple, and more often than not, a company’s ability to bounce back is dependent on how they handled the crisis in the first place.

The same will hold true of this pandemic. Governments and individuals will ultimately decide when it is acceptable for us to return to work in some capacity, and that will certainly impact a company’s economic recovery. The war against COVID-19 is far from over and until there is a vaccine, progress will be won and lost in the months and possibly years ahead. The companies and leaders that will recover best are those that managed the pandemic with consistency, transparency and honesty right from beginning and through to the bitter end. The ones that will thrive will be those that demonstrated compassion for employees, customers and the community at large.   

Like many companies across Canada, we too are starting to have discussions about what recovery might start to look like for us. It will be slow, and while we will not be the same after this ordeal, we will be stronger. I know this because we were consistent throughout. As a team, we communicated openly, honestly and often with each other. We shared laughs together, we cried together and we were strong for each other. I know that will continue once we are back in some semblance of an office setting.

I don’t have the answers to questions about how our political leaders or the health care system responded to the pandemic, but I do know that in any crisis, whether a pandemic, a food recall, a plane crash or a natural disaster, good leadership is not judged by government-appointed committees or courts of law, but by the people closest to the organization: employees and customers. Those who manage with a steady hand, empathy, and a willingness to do the right thing will bounce back quickly and recover well.

Those who choose to lead through crisis with good spreadsheet management typically lose their biggest and best assets of all: their people.

Looking for more communications guidance during the COVID-19 recovery period? Check out our communication evaluation checklist which asks a series of simple questions to help you determine what communications are right for your brand right now.

Angela Carmichael
President
With over 20 years of communications experience, Angela leads our talented FleishmanHillard HighRoad team and plays an integral role helping our clients through issues, crisis management and corporate reputation initiatives. She inspires her teams to produce compelling programs that are insightful, creative and drive business success for our clients.
Angela Carmichael
Présidente
Avec plus de 20 ans d’expérience en communication, Angela dirige notre équipe de professionnels doués chez FleishmanHillard HighRoad et joue un rôle essentiel en aidant nos clients face aux enjeux, en gestion de crise et dans leurs démarches pour la réputation de leur entreprise. Elle inspire ses équipes à mettre en œuvre des programmes efficaces démontrant une grande pertinence et créativité, tout en contribuant à la réussite commerciale de nos clients.