- On April 17, 2020
By Lisa Derby Oden
These are unusual times for all of us. Uncertainty runs high, and the unknown is the boogie man that stalks us. As a manufacturer, here are 5 tips for you to shake off these uncomfortable feelings and focus forward.
1) Keep communication channels open. Whether you are an essential business and working like crazy to keep up with increased demand, or are non-essential and temporarily closed, it’s important for customers, potential customers, employees, vendors, and any other entity that tries to contact you to let them know you are still out there. Voice mail, email responders, website and social media should all reflect what your current operating status is and time frame of when they can expect a response from you. Even if the time frame is longer than usual (remember, these are not usual times), it is calming for the audience to know you are still there and will reply.
2) Provide resources that may benefit your employees, your customers and your supply chain. This can be done in a special COVID-19 section on your website and/or via email and social media posts. It could be as simple as a list and links to resources you have become aware of. You could also encourage the audience to send you information about resources they have discovered that are not yet on your list. We are all in this together, and providing these resources demonstrates that.
3) Implement your crisis management plan. What? No plan? You’re not alone in this COVID-19 crisis, and are also not alone in not having a plan in place. What better time than right now to develop one, or revise an existing one. A crisis management plan is good business strategy for more that COVID-19. It can help you to avoid and mitigate any risk associated with the disruption of your activities, and you are better prepared to handle unforeseen challenges. A crisis management plan will help you consider how you can deal with supply chain disruption, how to handle communications, human resource considerations and more.
4) Use downtime for virtual training. This is a good time to catch up on training that you have been thinking of doing but have not had the time to. Not all training can be conducted virtually, but there are many tools available that make this method very effective for many topics. There are benefits to training at this time. First, it can help keep your employees on the payroll or to fill up some of their time if you have experienced a slowdown. Experiencing virtual training may open the possibility to conduct more training like this in the future – it means employees don’t have to leave your company, saving on travel. Some virtual training may be broken down into smaller sound bytes. So you may be used to thinking that putting an employee in training may involve a 4 or 8 hour block of time, and with virtual training, it may be 2 hours per block of time spread over more days. This may be easier to incorporate into your production schedule. Why not give it a try?
5) Get creative. This crisis will pass. Things will be different than they were prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Start to think down the road after the pandemic has passed. Are there new ways of operating that you have discovered during the pandemic that will benefit you in the days beyond it? Are there old practices that you will abandon, that have perhaps been replaced by more efficient, and/or virtual practices? Are there new product lines that you will explore and launch to match the new times?
By shifting your focus to these tips, time will pass more quickly, and you will emerge from this pandemic with improved practices in place. Do you have other tips that have served you well? Let us know – we are happy to share them on our COVID-19 resource page.