5 Thoughts on Keeping a Company on Track During Challenging Times
The past three months have been challenging for people and businesses worldwide. Here at Nordic IT, we haven’t been immune to the impact. With offices in Singapore, Dubai, Copenhagen, St. Petersburg, and Texas, Covid-19 has impacted each of our regions at different times, and with different effects. Staying aligned and ensuring that employee and customer safety has been paramount, as has ensuring that the business stays focused, and on track. The list below is by no means an exhaustive list, but a good summary of how we are ensuring we stay engaged with our employees and customers.
1.Daily Zoom/Teams Calls – We’re a global company so there is never a perfect time for everyone for a call, but it is critical that you have one. In the US, that means getting up pretty early, and in Singapore, an evening call post-dinner. We do our calls on Zoom, with a general rule of “camera on.” We do it this way so we have some virtual interaction – the visual keeps us all connected and keeps that emotional attachment that helps keep us all supported during challenging times. At this point, after 8 weeks of no haircuts, we all have some pretty interesting hairstyles so everyone is in the same boat! So, keep your daily comms, and keep the camera on! It will help keep you on track emotionally and strategically.
2. Customer Feedback – Keep asking your customers for feedback! We launched an NPS survey on April 1 st and knew it would come back with some constructive items we would have to work on. However, getting feedback from your customers during challenging times is the BEST time to get feedback. Take that feedback, build plans around it, solve the issues, and communicate the results to the customer. Ensure you close the loop and customers will notice.
3. Manage Your Finances – Challenging times are good times to become very deliberate in reviewing your spending. Each spend should serve a specific purpose, and it is a good time for you, and your leaders to question the need for that spend. If still required, evaluate if what you are paying is worth the value. I’m not a big believer in grinding your vendors down in a crisis – they were there for you prior to the crisis, and will be after. That relationship matters and should be preserved. I am a believer though in a fair return on money spent. So, work with your Accounts Payable team and start digging in. Renegotiate if it makes sense based on what you find.
4. Open Books – One of the great practices I learned at my previous company, Rackspace, was the impact of showing your employees how the company is doing. The parent company to Nordic IT, Dura Software, has an “Open Book” each quarter for all the employees of its portfolio companies. In that meeting, the Dura leaders have an open conversation with everyone on the call about what is going great, and areas that need work. For the areas going well, we talk about the why, and the plans to continue that positive traction. For the need areas, we discuss plans on how we will bring them back to a positive state. Feedback from the employees is encouraged and through that feedback, we are able to make better decisions on how to lead the companies.
5. Weekly Business Update – Finally, each week I update Nordic IT on how we are progressing against five of our major business metrics that drive the company. The email goes out each Monday to our global team, and kicks the week off with a review of how we did the previous week vs. the metrics, how we are measuring for the quarter, and how that tracks against the broad plan for the year. Through sharing this, each employee knows how the company is doing against the strategic goals that drive the company plan. Tactically, the update also allows me to adjust the company when we may want to drive a specific focus for that week. Additionally, I update on the major projects that are designed to drive the metrics, and give the organization each week the ability to provide feedback to the leaders and myself.
As we negotiate through these challenging times, providing support to your employees and customers is critical. Through communicating with your employees and customers, and listening to what they have to say, you will have a good opportunity to bring your company through business-impacting events and stay on track. And remember, keep the camera on!