Planning for a pandemic has been a key element of crisis management and business continuity plans for a number of years.
No-one, however, predicted the scale and longevity of COVID and it’s certainly not over yet.
But as food and consumer goods companies start to think about what their operating environment might look like in the future, it’s important to learn from the past few months and apply those learnings to better prepare for the future.
I’m Steve Hather from CrisisClarity. We help food and consumer goods companies prevent a reputation crisis and keep more customers through training, coaching and real-time crisis simulations without the PR fluff.
I recently asked a number of CEO’s of food and consumer goods companies to identify one key lesson from COVID and 4 general themes emerged.
1. Adaptability is a key organisational capability.
Those that have responded well have been willing to change as conditions have changed, not just waiting for things to get back to normal. The fact is that we don’t know what the new normal will be but we do know it won’t be the old normal. For small companies, being agile has always been an important part of their strategy. For larger companies, smaller cross functional teams empowered to take smarter risks and make key decisions but within clear established limits helps them be more agile.
2. COVID has reiterated that uncertainty and change IS normal.
Those that are better prepared for various scenarios - and importantly have identified the signals or early warnings for which scenario is more likely, will be best placed to take advantage of it. An attitude of embracing change and preparing for it, rather than resisting it and resting on works today, is required for leaders.
3. Lockdowns have forced companies to find new ways of working.
Video conferencing has come into its own. But it has also enabled staff to balance their lives more effectively as they increasingly juggle caring for a family with work commitments. We have seen companies that have held on to the belief that if staff are not in an office from 9 to 5 that they’re not working. While human connection will always be critically important, COVID has shown that it is possible to be a productive worker regardless of time and location restraints.
4. Emotional Intelligence is a critical capability for leaders
For many, COVID has heightened feelings of social isolation and fears around health and job security. As in all crises, those leaders that have acknowledged and addressed the concerns and emotions of their staff, suppliers and customers head on, rather than ignoring them or just focusing on facts alone have built stronger, longer lasting relationships. Leaders like Jacinta Ardern have demonstrated the power of emotional intelligence, while …. well let’s just say others have struggled. COVID has emphasised that emotional intelligence is a key leadership skill.
A big thank you to all those CEO’s that took the time to respond to my questions. I’ll be putting together a full report within the next couple of months and will send you a copy.
If you have any questions or comments, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or checkout our website www.crisisclarity.com for lots of information and resources for preventing a reputation crisis.
Thanks for watching and I’ll talk with you soon.