Coronavirus: What You CAN Control

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    Let’s face it, we’re all a little worried. While pandemics aren’t new, the rapid spread and global impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus has already changed the way we live and work before it’s even peaked. Adding to the worry in this type of situation are the many, many factors that are out of our control, and while it’s okay, or even healthy, to have a bit of worry, becoming so overwhelmed you decide it’s time to bury your head in the sand isn’t going to help you or your business get through tough times.

    In situations like this I’m reminded of a famous phrase that seems to have an application in every area of life…

    “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

    Yes, many factors are out of our control right now. Yes, your workforce will be impacted. So will your customers, investors, business partners, and local communities. But it’s not all out of your control.

    What CAN you control here?

    • How about being prepared with operational plans? Things will get hairy, but sun will also rise tomorrow. Planning to deal with coronavirus-related hurdles now will help ensure your doors stay open after the fact. If you don’t have a crisis plan that includes considerations for pandemics you need one, now.
    • How about knowing what you’ll say during the predictable next stages of the crisis? You know everyone is spooked, you know everyone is hesitant to engage, so help them feel more confident. Educate stakeholders as to how you’re protecting their safety, how you’re going to continue to deliver goods or services, and how your employees can keep doing their jobs.
    • How about reinforcing your own credibility? We’re seeing many big brands releasing statements that reinforce the sense of them having what we call the 3 C’s of Credibility – compassion, confidence, and competence. That’s a good thing, and you should do it too. With confidence shaken among all audiences, including your own staff, it’s critical that every message, and every action, reminds people that you care about them, you’re certain you’re doing the right thing, and you’re doing it well.

    You know what the number one way to reduce that feeling of helplessness, of being overwhelmed, is? Being ready. After all, winging it has never been a valid crisis management plan, and it certainly isn’t here.

    Erik Bernstein