In these uncertain times with the impact of COVID-19, it’s critically important to have a robust crisis management plan. Whilst there are many things that are outside of our control, there are also plenty of things that are within our control. It is about controlling the controllables, and that is what this article is all about.

McKinsey’s recent article COVID-19: Implications for business sets out five topics that should be top of mind including supply chain stabilisation, customer engagement and financial stress testing, along with ‘workplace protection’. That is, how are you going to protect your people?

Industry experts like Verne Harnish have also written a great article on the Five Practical C’s for Leading in a Crisis, covering a number of key areas to ensure you are leading through a crisis.

At Optimum, we’ve put together a checklist to mitigate any potential people challenges that may occur over the coming weeks and months. Getting out ahead of this is the focus.

Our 6-point People & Performance checklist

1. Communication Plan

Uncertainty is the thing that seems to be driving most behaviour, and effective communication is a great way to reduce uncertainty. You need to be communicating daily to your teams. There is no such thing as over-communicating in times like these.

2. HR Staff Policies including the following:

  • COVID-19 Policy
  • Business Continuity Plan
  • Work from Home/Flexible Working Agreement Policy & Employee Guide
  • FAQ guide that is easily accessible to everyone

Not everyone has the luxury of having their own home office so how and where are your staff going to work effectively? The kitchen table may be the only option available for some families, and so helping with advice about making the best of the circumstances is a sensible proactive approach.

3. Refined Performance Framework

You may have a performance framework that is based on everyone being physically present in an office environment. What changes will you need to make to ensure this is effective when people are no longer in the office? (We created an approach that deals with these circumstances in case you need help – we call it My Employee Life).

4. Refined Engagement initiatives

What steps have you taken to ensure your staff are fully engaged with the work they are doing (especially for staff working remotely) and not getting wound up, caught up in the panic? This is going to be an excellent opportunity to test how robust your existing employee experience initiatives are in difficult circumstances.

5. Workforce Planning/Staffing Restructures including downsizing strategies

Nobody likes thinking about worst-case scenarios, however it is sensible to consider various ‘what-if’ scenarios. Have you got a contingency plan of what the workforce will look like should the need to downsize arise? What are the alternatives? Thinking about these things now will certainly help to ensure panic decisions are not required later.

6. Interim/Contract Staff

Have you identified when you’ll need specialist skills to cover current or future skill requirements? If hiring permanent staff seems like a challenging decision to make, experience tells us that taking on the right contractors is a really good idea (Optimum is in its 18th year of operation which includes various ‘downturns’).

If you have all of these in place, fantastic, hopefully, you are in for a smoother ride than most. If not, please get in touch to discuss where we can assist.

At Optimum Consulting, we cover all of these areas and more. For further details, please check out our new website.

This list isn’t exhaustive of course. What else would you add to this checklist?

And finally some food for thought, when written in Chinese. Crisis is made up of two characters. One standing for danger. The other for opportunity.  How is that for irony!  To me, this means we need to be aware of both opposing views, but it is up to us to choose how we react.

If you would like assistance with any of these points, I can be contacted by email and by phone 07 3228 8430.

Richard Dunks – Executive Consultant

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *