Boss Lady

The critical role of execution during a crisis

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There has never been a more critical time to focus on execution. Now is not the time for procrastination.  Speed of execution is the priority.

Start today. Not tomorrow. Not next week.

We have already seen businesses pivoting hard to mitigate the risk to their business or seize opportunities that have arisen from the COVID-19 situation. In both scenarios’ execution is paramount. 

If execution is a challenge, you are not alone.  In fact, only 2% of leaders feel confident that 80-100% of their goals will be executed (Source: Bridges Business Consultancy).  It is a different skill set to execute than to strategise, which creates a strategy to execution gap.  Execution also heavily depends on a leader’s ability to engage the team and translate the plan into action.

Here are some highly practical top tips for execution during COVID-19: 

Pivot with speed:

Now that your mindset is strong it’s time to pivot.

If your business is under pressure, look at ways to reduce unnecessary costs and pivot to serve your audience. Your customers’ needs and circumstances are likely to have rapidly changed.  How can you still serve them at this time?

This is a great time to step up and lead within your community.

If you’re in need of inspiration, here are some companies who have already executed on their pivot during this COVID-19 crisis:

  • Urban Rituelle: An Australian Small Business, and one of our clients, developed a hand sanitiser in record speed and went to market within 48 hours.
  • Louis Vuitton:have repurposed their perfume factories to make hand sanitiser.
  • The Execution Zone: Within our business we have changed all of our workshops to virtual workshops and we have released a free membership to support businesses during this time. 

Now that you’re ready to pivot, get focused, I mean super-focused.  Being focused on 2-3 goals at most is the secret to successful execution. 

If you have a team, ensure your team are clear on those 2-3 goals, how they can contribute and ensure they are accountable for their actions. A 10-minute virtual team huddle over video conference 1 to 2 times a week will build and maintain momentum.  

Top Tips:

Right now, things can feel very overwhelming and many of us don’t know where to start with a pivot. Put yourself in the shoes of your customer, what do they need most from you right now and then take your first step towards this. The rest will follow!

Never leave the site of a goal without first taking some form of positive action towards its attainment.” Tony Robbins

Don’t forget to keep it simple. Execution does not like complexity! 

Communicate with your customers:

It is critical to keep communicating clearly, regularly and proactively with your customers particularly if there is disruption to service.  Ensure that customer experience is still a top priority, so your customers stay loyal to you during this time or are there to greet you once we get to the other side.

As consumers we have a low tolerance for poor customer experience. In fact, 65% of consumers have cut ties with a brand over just a single poor encounter (salesforce.com).

Take every opportunity to personalise your communication as much as possible.

Top Tips:

Plan how and when you will communicate with your customers. Schedule reminders in your diary if needed. Things are changing on a daily basis so be prepared to act quickly.

Consider the best form of communication for your business be it email, phone, video conference or social media platforms.

Build and maintain your community by remaining active online in a Facebook Group or the platform most relevant to your audience. 

What will I regret not doing?

We are always complaining that we don’t have time. Over the past few days I have been curious about what I will regret not doing with this ‘extra time’.  I say extra time loosely as a business owner with an 18-month-old now at home.

Two of our clients have decided to launch podcasts to stay connected with their community.

I know business owners who are considering writing a book.

One of my closest friends has just signed up to an online course.

From a business perspective, my own goal is to double down on our social media and our podcast.

From a personal perspective, it is taking the opportunity to exercise each day and get fit. I know I would regret not doing this.

Top Tips:

Select 2 – 3 goals as a maximum. Research on execution has shown this is the optimal number of goals (Source: Franklin Covey).

Write those goals down, a study by Dr. Gail Matthews found we have a 42% higher chance of achieving our goals if we write them down.

Put your own oxygen mask on first:

We’ve all heard the expression during the airline safety briefings.  There is a good reason for it, we can’t help others unless we are safe ourselves.

At this point I’m personally focusing heavily on keeping my own mindset as positive and constructive as possible.  I cannot be a good leader, a good boss, a good wife, or good mother unless I am in a strong place myself.  It might sound selfish, but I feel it’s more important than ever for my business and my family, for me to be on my A game.

This approach will also allow you to stay calm, be clear and make decisions based on the right information and of course execute.

Top tips:

Lean into your own self-care rituals or establish new rituals. For example, reading a book for 10 minutes, exercising using a home workout app for 10 minutes, doing a 5-minute meditation on headspace, doing a yoga practice via You Tube, or whatever regular activity helps you destress.

The Future:

Whilst COVID-19 crisis has been viewed as a one in one-hundred-year event, the reality is none of us have a crystal ball.

We all need to learn from this experience as to how we can plan better for future crises.

Keeping our overheads lean where possible, not being solely reliant on one revenue stream or route to market and having the ability for the team to work remotely are all good learnings for many businesses.

Take the time to journal and reflect on your learnings to help prepare you for the future.

Finally, don’t forget that the GFC brought to life companies such as Airbnb and Uber.  These times can bring great innovation, which you now have the opportunity to plan and execute on.

About Abbie White

Abbie White is the Founder of The Execution Zone a business education provider for growth hungry entrepreneurs and leaders. She has assisted in the delivery of over $300 Million in sales. The Execution Zone are offering a free membership for all Australian businesses with resources to manage the COVID-19 crisis. Please visit: TheExecutionZone.com or Instagram @TheExecutionZone for more information.

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