In Crisis Mode
In a time of crisis, organizations with built-in planning and check-in habits are more likely to survive. We recently coached a client’s management team through quarterly planning. Each manager planned their top 3 projects for Q2, 2020. And you could feel the momentum. But then the Coronavirus pandemic shut down our local restaurants, killing a healthy chunk of their business overnight. In addition to that, the team was then hit with the fact they would all need to lead effectively from home. Chaos was breathing down their necks.
Stay Together, Apart
Massive shifts in the market mean you need to make significant changes, fast. And the only chance your team has to navigate those changes successfully is to overcommunicate. In normal circumstances, the office would be abuzz with stand-up meetings and war-room sessions to crank out the agile adjustments your business needs. But this is not normal. Now your team is working remotely, and you have to lead from home. How can you stay together while apart? How can you rapidly identify new priorities, in real-time without being in the same room? Our most trusted answer is simple (not easy): stay disciplined.
A survey by the Global Workplace Analytics and FlexJobs found that remote work has grown 91% over the last 10 years, and 4.7 million people in the U.S. currently telecommute, up from 3.9 million in 2015.
Lean on Your Vital Habits
Don’t abandon your regular planning and check-in meetings. Even when you are frantically changing priorities, even when you can’t meet face to face, maintain the heartbeat of planning and checking in on your top priorities. So here is a recommended process.
- Master the technology for working remotely. This is obviously important now, but the same tools are what keep your team aligned in normal conditions. Learn how to meet remotely with video conferencing programs like Zoom or GoToMeeting. Also, get your plans into the cloud for everyone to see and edit using a shared document, spreadsheet, or collaboration software.
- Keep your priorities simple. Gather your team and define the group’s top 3 priorities for the next 90 days. Be sure to work hard not to break the “Rule of 3.”
- Align and share everyone’s top projects. With the group’s priorities clear, now every team member should align their own top 3 projects to them. For even more clarity, break down each of those projects into a clear set of deliverables with due dates. Again, make sure all these projects and their breakdowns are visible to everyone.
- Proactively communicate the status of your responsibilities. Once a week, we recommend first thing Monday morning, each team member should report the current status of each of their projects. Is the project on track (green), at-risk (yellow), or impossible (red) given the current conditions? Write a one-line progress comment for each item.
- Check-in weekly as a team on everyone’s top priorities. With everyone’s project statuses up-to-date, you are ready for a check-in meeting. In your video conference call, share your screen and display the plan with everyone’s updates. Review progress and adjust priorities.
Now is the Exact Time for Discipline
Discipline is for such moments as these. So when the world goes crazy, find your discipline. When you need to lead effectively from home, stick to your principles. Because when you don’t know how to navigate an overwhelming situation, then the wisest thing you can do is the next right thing. In conclusion, check-ins and planning are disciplines. So stick to them, especially when you are tempted not to.