COVID-19 is having a significant impact on startups across the country. It’s likely to continue for the foreseeable future. As the pandemic continues, we will see more and more companies struggling to meet goals and needing to make big changes. It’s an anxiety-producing and uncertain time for everyone.
I work with Los Angeles founders, CEOs and their companies at every stage, from seed to IPO. I’m committed to providing you with the biggest trends and topics so you can best lead your organization and get ahead of the curve.
The question that I’m answering the most right now is: What people strategies are CEOs and organizations using during COVID-19? My answer: Create certainty during uncertain times.
Company culture is more important than ever. It’s the shared ethos of your organization and the key ingredient needed to achieve your vision. Company culture is composed of shared beliefs, goals, attitudes, practices and behaviors. It creates the foundation that supports success and innovation. Companies that fostered a strong culture before the COVID-19 crisis have been managing this new reality better than their counterparts.
CEOs and leadership teams are starting to realize that we aren’t going back to normal. Due to this, teams are working to find resources to create a new normal. Many are beginning to adopt a human-centered approach with an increased focus on culture initiatives, such as: better health benefits, flexible time off and better communication efforts. CEOs that stand out during this pandemic are thinking about rewriting the traditional playbooks in preparation for the new normal ahead.
Core Values is one of the most important culture initiatives. These guiding principles help create certainty during this uncertain time and help employees understand what behaviors are accepted and valued. Core values also help guide companies to determine if the current strategy will fulfill their goals. Most importantly, core values can be a stepping stone to innovation.
The first step is to get a team focused on how your organization can better live its core values. Ping pong tables, free coffee and snacks, monthly happy-hours and company swag aren’t going to be helpful tools to innovate, build or maintain your culture during COVID-19. Ask the team: What behaviors can we adopt that will reinforce our core values?
Many organizations have one or more core values that describe a person or organization as having integrity, boldness, honesty, trust, grit, transparency, the ability to evolve and adapt their mentality, the ability to develop & learn; the list goes on. Unfortunately, many of those organizations fail to integrate their core values. Therefore, they become obsolete and worthless.
Here are a few actions you can take today that will create new behaviors that support your core values:
- Provide reliable and consistent feedback during COVID-19. Train your leadership team to provide employee(s) with real-time “feed forward” feedback. Feed forward is focused on what’s working and what can be done better in the future. Ask questions like, “What are you doing now that needs to continue, and what should be changed in the future?” Stay away from traditional feedback during COVID-19. Questions such as, “What did you accomplish and how well/poorly did you do it?” will be very unhelpful to your employees.
- Push for a learning & development focus. With the uncertainty that comes with COVID-19, now is a good time to think ambitiously and help employees expand their knowledge and upskill. It’s especially important to support your high performers and continue to grow your next-level leaders. There are many online classes, virtual conferences, universities and coaches that are offering discounts. Use this time as an opportunity to grow your people and reinforce a company value.
- Build a benefits package that supports mental health for your employees. New research is coming out every day regarding how the current world crisis is affecting mental health. Use this time as an opportunity to support your employees so they can embody your company values to the best of their abilities. You can also support parents and other employees affected by COVID-19 by taking advantage of Paid Leave Under The Families First Coronavirus Response Act. This provides employees with paid time off due to the impacts of COVID-19. This also helps organizations, as the act helps to reduce some of the cost associated with employees taking time off.
The COVID-19 crisis provides a unique opportunity for companies to evaluate, evolve and cultivate a culture that will scale and thrive no matter what. Using cultural assessments and 360-degree feedback for leadership will help uncover current cultural inconsistencies and uncertainty within your organization.
Let’s talk! My consulting company partners with CEOs, their startups and their publicly-traded companies to align their mission, strategy, business operations, HR teams and culture. For more information, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.shannonflynn.co