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What Now?

StrategyDriven Editorial Perspective Article |Pandemic|What Now?This seems to be the burning question on everyone’s mind and no one seems to have an answer. This year has been unlike any other in history. There is no precedent on how to come back from a world-wide pandemic. But we have to move forward.

Most companies are in survival mode, and they don’t have the luxury of a large bank account to save them. Every choice they make has huge repercussions. Talk about stressful. Unfortunately, this is the case for many businesses, mine included.

There are many thought leaders out there giving advice on what to do next. If I’m being honest, it’s been hard for me to trust what they are saying. Not because I think they are making stuff up, but because they aren’t experiencing the same thing I am. They run multi-million dollar corporations with a large bank account to get them from quarter to quarter. My companies, however, have to make smart decisions today in hopes of making it to the next quarter. There isn’t much room for error. This is a real fear and I know I am not alone in feeling this way.

Not only are we stuck in survival mode, but now my people have spent months at home working in isolation and isolation is dangerous. We belong in community, even with those we work with. Culture is critical to the success of a business, but it takes time and intentionality. In survival mode, time is a tough thing to sacrifice. I am constantly tempted to abandon culture and fight for survival. But I am choosing to hedge my bets on culture.

Roulette is a great example of the constant temptation we, as leaders, face every day. We put all our chips on black (culture). We act so confident that the people around us are bought in enough to place their bets black too. Then, at the last second, you push a couple of your chips over to red (survival). The people around you are frustrated and confused. Why did you abandon your bet at the last second? Because it felt safe. Fear forces you to make decisions that feel safe in the moment but aren’t in the long run.

Leaders need to be vulnerable with their people. They need to share their fears and concerns about the state of the company. They need to be able to depend on their people. You will be amazed at how your people show up for you when you give them a glimpse into your world. If you’re stuck in survival mode, how do you think that makes your people feel? They can feel your stress no matter how hard you try and hide it. You will have to do something tomorrow as a leader, so what will it be?

My advice: Get to know your people and let them get to know you. Talk about your worldviews—hopes, preferences, traditions, experiences, and beliefs. The diversity of your people is a great asset. People want to be understood for who they are, not just what they can do for you. When you tap into the intrinsic value of a person they will bring more to the table than you could have ever imagined. Make sure you can all agree to the purpose of your company, where you are going together. This is incredibly important, especially right now. You need people that can align their passions to the purpose so that they will take ownership of their role. Guiding Principles will be useful to you on the journey because it will help dictate how you will treat each other on the journey.

Lastly, make culture the boss. If you have done the hard work of getting to know your people and aligning to your purpose and guiding principles, then you are ready to let the culture dictate what you do next. The beauty of placing your bet on culture is that it will tell you how to move forward. It won’t force you to choose between your people and your tasks. It will help you use your people to accomplish your tasks. The choice will not be easy, but I am betting that it’s worth it.


About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Chris MeroffAuthor, speaker and entrepreneur, Chris Meroff, has made a career of testing new leadership ideas to see what works—and what doesn’t—in service-oriented leadership. What he has gleaned from his research has helped him build a fast-growing organization with a diverse and engaged workforce that understands the mission of his organization and their place in it. His business, Alignment Leadership Consulting, exists to teach leaders how they too can boldly pursue a workplace culture that prioritizes employee fulfillment. Learn more at www.AlignLeadThrive.com

Strategies for Overcoming Crisis in The Hospitality Industry

StrategyDriven Risk Management Article | Strategies for Overcoming Crisis in The Hospitality IndustryEvery organisation is likely to face a crisis now and again. Significant problems may arise once or twice a year, with smaller issues appearing sporadically in the time in between. Predicting what a crisis will entail is impossible in many situations – but it’s how a team prepares and responds that can dictate whether and to what degree a business recovers.

The Covid-19 pandemic is one obvious example of an uncontrollable crisis affecting almost every industry in one way or another. While many wise businesses will have a crisis management strategy in place, it’s a situation few could have directly planned for.

The hospitality sector has been among the hardest hit. Unfortunately, it’s also likely to feel the situation’s impacts the longest due to ongoing social distancing rules and a consequential reduction in demand and revenue.

Sales slumped by 87% in the second quarter of 2020, and despite tentative signs of recovery, over half of small business owners in the sector fear the pandemic will force them to permanently close. The situation has forced many to pivot their approach in order to survive – but effective crisis management could allow some to emerge stronger.

Below we discuss other uncontrollable factors the hospitality industry faces, as well as the strategies businesses can implement to overcome them.

What uncontrollable factors affect the hospitality industry?

The aforementioned Covid-19 pandemic has severely impacted what is perhaps the primary uncontrollable variant for the hospitality industry – flow of tourism.

Accommodation providers, food and drink establishments and other leisure facilities all rely on visitor numbers, but tourism can be fragile even in the best of times. Weather, political events, area decline and the arrival of competitors can all lead to unpredictable cashflow and a variety of other challenges from one season to the next.

Another variant looming large over the sector is Brexit. The hospitality industry is a large employer of migrant workers, but new regulations are likely to lead to problems with labour availability. It remains to be seen whether abolishing freedom of movement will also turn international tourists away.

Strategies for overcoming uncontrollable crises

Periodically reviewing plans is one important strategy for managing crisis. By building in trigger points to assess factors such as operational and market performance as well as basic financial metrics, a company can assess whether a long-term plan is still fit for purpose. In light of some of the events discussed above, this process can be vital in adjusting to new parameters to keep a company on track.

There are other practical steps that can be taken to prepare for the eventuality of a crisis. Taking out hospitality insurance with Gallagher for example can protect against damages to a commercial property or other unforeseen disruptions.

When such a situation does arise, establishing an effective solutions team allows a business to focus the right people on the task in hand. Members should have a clear understanding of their roles and ideally some of their typical responsibilities will be delegated. Electing forward-thinking individuals will help generate the most positive and proactive response.

With a crisis management team in place, wider communication is essential in keeping everyone working towards the same goal. Creating a clear ‘change story’ that all workers can understand and get behind – from front of house staff to board members – can be an important step in establishing a collective sense of urgency.

The hospitality industry is undoubtably facing a crisis right now – but with the right team and strategies in place, many will already be on the road to recovery. If you have any additional insights, please feel free to share best practices in the comments section below.

How to Handle Back to Work Anxiety

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article |Work Anxiety|How to Handle Back to Work AnxietyAre you returning to the office? Businesses in many industries are starting to welcome employees back either on a full-time basis or a few days a week where remote working has been successful, but after months of working from home, it is understandable that many employees are feeling anxious.

So, what can an employee do to feel less anxious about returning to the office?

Learn About Changes

The fear of the unknown can be what causes the most anxiety, so it is useful to learn ahead of time what changes have been made to the office environment. It is likely that your manager/HR have been in touch but you can also speak to them directly which also gives you a chance to communicate your worries and work together to find ways to reduce stress and anxiety.

Socialize with Colleagues

Everyone is in the same boat so it is likely that you are not the only person feeling anxious which is why it is a good idea to speak to your colleagues and see how they are doing – of course, you will want to do this in a manner that you are comfortable with and by adhering to social distancing guidelines.

Prepare for the Commute

It is understandable that the commute is causing stress and anxiety, especially those using public transport. Wearing a face mask and having hand sanitizer is important, but it might also be useful to book online and try to travel at a quieter time. If you are getting on a train going to Portsmouth Harbour then you can book online which will give you one less thing to do on the day.

Have Something to Look Forward to

As with any type of anxiety, it is always helpful to have something to look forward to as a reward. This could be anything, but a few ideas include getting your favourite takeaway after work, going for a drink in the pub or buying yourself new clothes. You might also find it helpful to have a nice lunch planned in the middle of the day either with a colleague or by yourself if you are more comfortable.

Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises are a proven way to reduce anxiety and can be done easily while on the train or simply sat at your desk so it is a good idea to teach yourself these exercises.

It is perfectly natural to have some anxiety returning to the office after months of working from home and with the virus still a threat. Hopefully, this post will give you a few ideas for ways that you can reduce anxiety and return to work with confidence – once you have done it once and got your feet under the desk, it is sure to feel like before.

How Selling Online Can Save Businesses Post-COVID

StrategyDriven Online Marketing and Website Development Article, How Selling Online Can Save Businesses Post-COVIDIn a post-COVID world, we’ll all be looking at buying and selling very differently. The ongoing global health crisis has really shown businesses that can pivot to new ways of working will be the businesses that survive, and those that don’t will be the businesses that fail.

We’ve all seen the news stories, and we’re all concerned about the impending financial crisis that is likely to hit the country, so what can we do to mitigate the fallout?

The secret to success will be to move business as online as possible, and if you sell products, then selling online will be vital to ensuring that you can weather the storm that is coming.

When brands don’t sell online, it can cost them millions. Take British clothes retailer Primark; for example, due to having no online selling presence, they lost approximately £284 million. In contrast, the British public was unable to visit the store during the lockdown. Still, interestingly, Primark’s complete avoidance of the online marketplace has left a gap that others will happily fill.

Primark clothing soon turned up on Amazon through resellers and at a premium too!

Fill the Gap

As an entrepreneur, you can only look at that story with dark amusement, but you must also see the benefit here, you can sell almost anything on Amazon and use it to turn a profit, but how exactly can you do this?

The best way to get into selling on Amazon is to use a professional Amazon marketing agency like Nuanced Media. Trying to navigate the Amazon seller sphere all on your own will be time-consuming, confusing. It will probably lead to you not achieving your goal of financial freedom and possibly financial independence with an Amazon store.

Starting Your Financial Freedom Journey

Marketing agencies like Nuanced0020Media understand how the platform works -for buyers and for sellers- and they will guide you through the process of creating your account, setting up your store and what to sell, and how much for.

Do you want to sell your own branded products (Private Label), or are you happy to find products you love at wholesale prices and sell them on for retail prices? The latter is probably the most popular option on Amazon, especially for businesses looking to get into online selling, and allows buyers to buy products they know and love, but pay you instead of another one of the bigger online sellers!

NathanIves.com Digital Products Platform Online Training Program


Gaining financial freedom from your job or work can be really empowering, and for companies that are concerned about taking the hit for the Coronavirus outbreak, pivoting the business model of selling online can be an absolute career saver for many small businesses.

It’s easy to get set up on Amazon, and you’ll be backed by their customer help team who are fantastic. One of the biggest bonuses of using the Amazon platform is that it’s so widely used by shoppers all over the world, so you could be connecting to anyone from anywhere!


About the Author

Ryan Flannagan is the Founder & CEO of NuancedMedia, an international eCommerce marketing agency specializing in Amazon. Nuanced has sold $100s of Millions online and Ryan has built a client base representing a total revenue of over 1.5 billion dollars. Ryan is a published author and has been quoted by a number of media sources such as BuzzFeed and Modern Retail. To connect with Ryan, check out @Ryanflannagan on Twitter or via Linkedin.

Weather the Storm of Constant Change by Strengthening 3 Balance Sheets

StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances Article |Balance Sheet|Weather the Storm of Constant Change by Strengthening 3 Balance SheetsThe COVID-19 crisis has put an exclamation point on the idea that we live in a world of perpetual whitewater. Whether caused by a pandemic, an economy in free fall, an unforeseen change in the competitive business environment or a problematic geopolitical issue, the world in which we operate is volatile and unpredictable. Success, even mere survival, hinges on being prepared and nimble enough to adapt to rapidly changing conditions.

Everyone wonders when we will get to the “new normal.” It may be preferable to call it the “next normal.” Whatever becomes normal as we progress through COVID-19 is just temporary — like after 9/11 or the financial crash of 2008, there will be another major disruption following in the not-too-distant future. We need to evolve amidst an on-going sequence of next normals without capsizing.

How do you survive, or even thrive, in a world of continuous turbulence and change? The organizations that have best weathered the COVID-19 storm entered it with strong balance sheets in three functions: Not only do they have a strong financial balance sheet, they also have strong balance sheets with their team members and strong balance sheets with their customers.

Regardless of what the future looks like, to be prepared and to weather the storm of perpetual change, you must prudently steward all three balance sheets. Navigating through the next normal requires that you:

1. Have a plan. The plan must include both your purpose and your strategy.

Purpose creates the True North for the organization — what you aspire to contribute. People want to contribute to something bigger than themselves. Your purpose defines what that something is. Purpose attracts talent and aligns and energizes effort. What is the organization’s higher calling? Why does your organization exist? Why does your organization matter?

Strategy defines how your organization positions itself in the marketplace to create unique value for your target customers. What do you provide or do differently that causes customers to buy from you versus anyone else?

2. Execute your plan. You can’t just have a plan; you have to execute your plan — and most organizations don’t do that well. Some 75 to 80 percent of organizations fail to achieve the results they expect from their strategies.

In a rapidly changing world, execution is critical to survival. It’s vital to maximizing your results and building your triple balance sheet. The ability to execute your organizational strategy smoothly and successfully is what provides the financial, human and reputational capital you need to navigate the next change and to be able to invest in adapting quickly to the next, next normal.

To execute effectively, you must align the actions of everyone in the organization to the purpose and strategy. This means:

  • Having the right people in the right roles with the right capabilities. Think through the performance in each current role, the potential for future roles and the capabilities that need to be developed for both current and future roles. Then, connect that assessment to development efforts that help people build the capabilities you’ll need for success in the future.
  • Aligning your systems, structures, processes and culture to the purpose and strategy. For example, how well do the compensation, rewards and recognition and promotions systems in your organization align with your strategy?
  • Keeping a scorecard that drives performance. Ensure scorecards with quantitative measures of performance, results and trends over time are visible and available to everyone in the organization. This allows them to make adjustments mid-course that can affect the outcome.
  • Following-up and following-through. To both generate learning and create rigorous accountability for performance and for living the values of the organization, schedule regular updates to analyze performance gaps and adjust the plan for moving forward.

3. Just lead, dammit! Leaders deliver results by fully engaging their teams in the effort. They build organizations of people passionate about and wanting to contribute their best to the company every day. In order to build a strong balance sheet with their teams, great leaders forge deep connections to their team members. They:

  • Communicate often and openly. With rapid changes in the environment, leaders need to communicate often and openly. Failure to do so creates a vacuum that people will fill, often by making stuff up. Leaders should convey a realistic picture of the dynamic environment of the market where conditions are likely to change rapidly.
  • Create dialogue, not diatribe: One-way, top down communication stifles the kind of multidirectional communications required to fully understand and adapt to rapidly changing circumstances. As a leader, you can’t possible have all the answers — too many unknowns and even the “knowns” can change. It’s critical to be clear about what you do and what you don’t know.
  • Empathize with their team’s point-of-view. Constant change can put people on edge. Show sensitivity to the emotional and real challenges individuals on the team face. Hear the question behind the question, or the key point behind what team members say.
  • Are authentic. People want their leaders to be real. They appreciate honesty, even if it’s painful or upsetting. Being authentic builds trust, which is vital for ensuring that your organization is strong and resilient. Most importantly, it sets the right example for others to emulate.

4. Build resilience. Mike Tyson famously said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

Regardless of how good your plan is, or how effectively you execute, you’re going to get punched in the mouth! In a world of perpetual whitewater, you have to be prepared for the next punch, the next wave, the next rapid or the next life-threatening obstacle.

Thriving through an endless stream of “next normals” requires that organizations are tough enough to adapt regardless of how difficult the circumstances. Resilient organizations:

  • Have strong, consistent core values. Values like integrity, respect and trust provide stability amidst the upheaval and shape a culture that enables everyone to take action in an environment of uncertainty.
  • Generate trust. Leaders must believe and trust that everyone will act in the best interest of the organization, and team members must trust and believe in their leaders and the organization as a whole. This is critical to enabling the kind of dialogue necessary to lead through uncertain times. With trust, people closest to the challenges are given the responsibility and latitude to act without waiting for direction from above, where leaders often have less information about the conditions on the ground.
  • Constantly learn. Rapid change requires constant experimentation in how to adapt to that change. Instilling responsibility throughout the organization often results in mistakes and errors as people learn what works and what doesn’t. Resilient organizations have a “fail fast, learn fast” mentality that allows them to adapt to change faster than others.
  • Foster accountability. People perform their best in an environment in which results matter. Accountability reinforces whichever results matter. And, there must be accountability for playing within the core values of the organization, or people quickly learn that they don’t matter, which, in turn, erodes the fundamental trust necessary to create success.

Being prepared for the “next normal” requires building your balance sheet financially and with your team and your customers. To do so, you have to have a great plan for success, execute that plan effectively and constantly work to build a resilient organization. None of this is easy in a highly competitive, rapidly changing environment. But the reward for getting it close to right is earning the opportunity to adapt again when the next wave hits.


About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor |Sean RyanSean Ryan is a world-renowned business consultant, speaker, trainer and executive coach. As the founder of Whitewater International Consulting, he has worked internationally with companies such as Disney, Nucor Steel, FedEx and Nestle Waters of North America/Perrier Group of America. With more than two decades of industry experience, Sean is highly regarded for his ability to guide organizations through complex transformational change in what he describes as “a world of perpetual whitewater”. His new book is Get in Gear: Seven Gears that Drive Strategy to Results (Productivity Press, Aug. 20, 2020). Learn more at https://www.wwici.com/get-in-gear.