Whether it’s a downturn in sales, a PR crisis, or, as we’ve seen in recent times, a recession and a global pandemic, businesses are always going to face adversity. And in these days where no business is ‘too big to fail,’ no one is immune from crisis. Big businesses often have contingency funds and the agility to navigate setbacks. But what about small employers? When they run into disaster, how can they bounce back and thrive?
Work on change agility
The saying that there is nothing certain in life except death and taxes should have included change. For many businesses, change is the only constant, and it’s inevitable. But instead of fearing change, small employers can take advantage of it. In times of change, leaders and managers need to steady the ship but also be on the lookout for opportunities. For example, having your team working remotely or introducing hybrid working might seem like a headache on the face of it, but it may help you reduce costs and be more flexible to your clients’ and customers’ needs.
Harness a crisis to push ahead
Even if it seems like things are falling apart around you, a crisis can actually be a great opportunity. You may find that, under pressure, you and your team become more creative at solving problems. There can be more energy behind trying to make things work. Holding your nerve and pushing on in the face of adversity can be the difference between a small business bouncing back and a different outcome entirely.
Don’t forget about the importance of building trust
Trust is crucial in times of crisis and uncertainty. Your team needs to know that you have a plan to navigate the choppy waters and that you’re being open and honest about what’s going on. Communicate clearly with your people, admit to what you don’t know, and let them know how valued they are. People will remember what leaders did and said in times like this, and small employers can reap the benefits of inspiring trust and maintaining good relationships.
Build your resilience
Resilience is not about clinging on as you lurch from one crisis to another. For all businesses, especially small employers, it’s the key to not only bouncing back, but coming back stronger than ever. Not everyone is naturally resilient, but it’s something that can be learned.
Working on your own resilience as a small employer is important. It may look like managing your stress, becoming more self-aware, and reframing setbacks as learning opportunities. As a leader or manager, you set the pace when it comes to team culture and resilience against inevitable adversities. If you want a more resilient team, then making people feel valued, allowing them some autonomy, and building trust can go a long way. In times of crisis, a resilient team will pull together and ask: ‘How can we get through this?’
No business is immune to adversity but, with a few changes in perspective and laying some strong foundations, it’s possible to not only survive the hard times, but thrive in them.
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Words by Nicola Richardson