One of the most rewarding parts of being a business and/or team leader is the satisfaction you get from seeing others develop, grow and succeed. The worst part is trying to support when times are tough. The sheer energy, strength and tenacity required over the past few weeks and no doubt in many months to come to keep “people” on board will be vast. We all went through it in the last oil price downturn, but have we really learnt from the past?

And when I say people, I don’t just mean employees. I also mean partners, contractors, customers, frankly anyone we work with who at any given moment can be positively or negatively impacted by the words we say, the tone we take, the letters we type. Our approach, our belief, our ability to think to the future and be constructive about it, is going to impact the speed of recovery and why we all have a responsibility for guiding everyone through this downturn.

Readdressing our resilience

Last week our Managing Partner, Claire Kinloch spoke together with IOD Scotland about business resilience during challenging periods. This is the time to rain check everything we stand for, have stood for, whether our vision is still realistic and relevant, how our values and behaviours stand fast and can be effective in being applied in the current climate. What got us to where we are today most likely took agility, entrepreneurialism and a strong sense of commitment and spirit – do these still hold strong and can our culture withstand what is in front of us?

Connecting with team

Every business relies on people. Individuals, humans with families, challenges, life dynamics that are personal to each and every one of them. Right now many are feeling fear, anxiety, guilt, grief and pressure. Are we making assumptions about how they are all feeling and what they want in the future? Or are we putting in place mechanisms to understand each and every one of them as individuals to help us plan for the business future? Reading Rebel Ideas By Matthew Syed proves that by creating “standards” for all people means we are relevant to no-one. Personalisation is key and this needs to start with the individuals in our business.

Communication is priority

I was reminded some years ago that the primary role of a CEO was to communicate. Never has this been so true. Picking up on the previous point, one way of helping people feel safe, informed, engaged and valued during times of uncertainty is simply to communicate. All the time. Being open, honest, keeping communication two-way and admitting you don’t always have the answers can go a long way to keeping people on side. You need them. You might need them now to build and plan your way out of the current situation; you might need them later when operations get back on track. But you will certainly need them to speak positively of their experience with you as an employee, partner or customer of your brand and business in the future if you have any chance of survival and success.

Whether your sense of accountability comes from a feeling of personal duty or professional commitment, maybe both, what is important is to move this feeling into action. Reassess your resilience, understand your people and engage with them. Sounds simple but of course if it is was everybody would be doing it. And they are not.

There is no need for companies to consistently reinvent themselves completely at every peak and trough – they just need to work with their people through the challenge, through the change, to come out better and stronger together at the other end.