How do we adjust to the new normal?

By Guest Author: Hassan Saeed

Everyone keeps talking about the new normal. What is the new normal and how do we adjust and adapt ourselves to it as a business?

The answer is not as simple as we might want it to be. This may be a simple question but the answer cannot be generalized to suit all businesses. What individual businesses can do depends very much on where they are and their current realities.

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This pandemic has impacted businesses of all sizes in all industries. Many businesses have been put on life-support. We have seen pandemics before but not at this scale in recent history. Most businesses are ill-equipped to handle the shock and disruption. Responding to something at this scale requires ideas and resources.

According to local epidemiologists, it is likely that the current movement restrictions could be in place for another 3 months as we see more infections in the greater Male area. In theory, flattening the curve means the virus could be within the population for longer. Unfortunately, most small to medium size businesses do not have the means and resources to survive for this long doing business as usual. They need new approaches, new ideas and new strategies. It is not easy to decide where to start but the following is a list of 5 things that a small business can start looking at for clarity of direction and next steps in their human resource management strategy.

  • Communicate Clearly

Crisis communication is not easy. Ad hoc decisions which are not clearly communicated end up causing more damage to the company than good. We all want to be involved in decisions that impact us. Managements owners who are honest and sincere will find that employees are more understanding and easier to convince. Negative messages will most obviously have undesired reactions but how these messages are framed and conveyed goes a long way in ensuring mutual goodwill and respect.

  • Tap into existing/available technology

Video conferencing is one of the best technological advancements that businesses have simply refused to use for the past few decades. This technology saves time and accomplishes a lot in shorter time frames when put into smart use. Most companies do not require any additional resources or investment for this. Collaborative software is another resource that companies can tap into. This will be a good time to encourage teams to train themselves online and to attend webinars and live chats by experts on topics relevant to the company’s core business activities.

  • Focus on maintaining relationships

A lot of these things are interconnected – maintaining a normal semblance of work environment requires technology. Managements must focus on internal as well as external relationships. Trying to continue routines and cultures help teams maintain focus and stay positive. External relationships require more subtle approaches. Try not to annoy clients who may already be stressed and worried. Be subtle and assuring when reaching out to external clients.

  • Let employees come up with ideas

When everyone is worried and stressed, it is difficult to ‘see’ ideas clearly. People in general want to be valued and listened to. Managements should listen to team members and must facilitate a process for letting teams find solutions in difficult situations. The new normal requires new ideas. Sometimes the best ideas come from the least expected sources. Companies that have teams working with clients have a much better feel of the clients’ pulse than the management.

  • Keep hope and positivity alive

Small business owners and business leaders must encourage positivity and give people hope in a  common future. Teams must have a sense of togetherness and not feel ‘doomed’. We all want to return to normalcy as soon as possible but doing the best in this difficult situation requires pragmatic leadership. As pointed out previously, keeping routines alive help people stay more positive and hopeful.

This is a difficult time. We cannot continue business as usual. Some of the challenges we face can be overcome with basic common sense. Let’s stay focused and look for different ways of doing things.

Pictured: Hotelier Hassan Saeed

About the writer: Hassan Saeed is a hotelier with over 28 years of experience in Maldives tourism and resort operations. He is passionate about behavioral economics and how concepts like ‘Nudge’ can be applied in service settings. Hassan identifies himself as a lifelong learner. He currently holds the position of Resort Manager at Dhigali Maldives.

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