How to Manage Your Team and Your Finances During the COVID-19 Crisis?

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Samin Saadat
Executive Director

In this article, we provide you with a guideline on:

  1. How to communicate the change and the uncertainty effectively in order to expect high accountability
  2. How to prepare for a remote team and manage your team effectively
  3. How to manage your finances and reducing costs to ensure business operation continuity

FIRST COMMUNICATION: how to prepare the team for the changes

The first step is to communicate the “bad news” and expected changes effectively! you can use the email template below to ensure you communicate the followings effectively:

  1. Sharing the negative impact and the involved risk transparently
  2. How you are handling the situation: Clarifying expectations, policies and changes
  3. Clarifying how each individual can play a role during this crisis and be their own hero
  4. Clarify how you address the fear, uncertainty and psychological insecurities at the personal and individual level

The Email Template:

Dear [XXX] Team,

At [COMPANY NAME], our top priority is ensuring the health and safety of our team members, clients, as well as our business. With the recent COVID-19 crisis, we are all being impacted personally and professionally. Our business is at risk of [PLEASE LIST ALL THE RISKS AND NEGATIVE IMPACTS OF THE BUSINESS].

We are all in the same boat and facing many challenges and uncertainties which may result in fear. However, we strongly believe that if each of us play our own part, we will be able to navigate this situation effectively, coming out with an even stronger team. [MAKE SURE YOU GIVE THEM HOPE AND INSPIRATION]

In response to the situation, we are adapting our procedures and interactions as follows:

  • [ CHANGES IN TEAM INTERACTIONS]
  • [ CHANGES IN COMPENSATIONS, BENEFITS, AND ETC.]
  • [ CHANGES IN TEAM STRUCTURE]
  • [ CHANGE IN PROCESSES ]

As mentioned, this will require each of us to play a key role during this transition. We highly encourage you to take the following actions during this time:

  • [ASKING FOR FEEDBACK AND FURTHER CLARIFICATIONS]
  • [COMMUNICATING WITH TEAM MEMBERS ]
  • [VALIDATING THE INFORMATION TO AVOID MISINFORMATION AND RUMOURS]

In times of uncertainty like these, our basic human need for psychological safety and security is impacted, which can trigger strong emotions such as fear and panic. In order to navigate these uncertain times, we strongly encourage you to reach out to [WHOEVER IS IN CHARGE, JALAPENO COACH, HR, MANAGER] on a regular basis. The goal is to go through the ups and downs of this crisis together and ensure we support each other by providing what you need to navigate the situation at a personal/individual level.

Let’s not forget that amidst this crisis, we as a team are still working together to [INSERT MISSION/VISION statement]. Our goal is to continue delivering value to the organization, but above all, ensuring that we remain a cohesive unit by ensuring that uncertainty is reduced as much as possible and that individuals continue to feel heard at [COMPANY NAME]. We must not let this situation get in the way of creating and maintaining a community to be proud of.

Best Regards

[NAME AND TITLE]

REMOTE WORK ARRANGEMENTS

Communications:
  1. Have you communicated clearly what is happening in the team? With the current status of the business? Team? Have you shared the bad news transparently and clearly?
  2. Have you communicated how the situation is being handled? Are your team members clear on what the next steps are and unexpected demands/incidents?
  3. Are you providing more opportunities for video call meetings?
  4. Do you have clear guidelines, policies and boundaries on remote working?
  5. Have you clarified each individual role during this period of time? Have you clarified how each team member can support each other so they will not reach out to the manager all the time?
  6. Have you clarified expectations for :
    • Work hours
    • Availability
    • Checkpoints
    • Communication system: what type of information should be shared on what channel? how about urgent matters?
    • Timely meetings
    • Key projects and deadlines
    • Scheduled meetings
    • Respond to email
  7. Do you have a platform where there could be an effective and efficient interdepartmental interaction? Can team members communicate with other departments?
  8. How often is feedback going to be provided? Is there a structure in place to ask and provide feedback?
  9. Do you have a virtual daily meeting? Scrum meeting? Morning meeting? Do you clarify what each person accomplished, what the primary focus is for the day and how they can support each other to complete their daily tasks?
  10. How are you making sure that the right information is being communicated to the right people, ensuring that individuals are not being included in meetings that aren’t relevant to them?
  11. How do you decide what information to share during each daily meeting?

Team Management:

  • How are you measuring success? Are you focusing on results and outcomes or processes and activities?
  • Are you dictating what process an individual must use or are you clarifying the outcomes and the end results you expect?
  • How do you try to keep your team engaged and motivated?
  • What support is available to your leadership team during this period of time?
  • Are you considering how to communicate urgent and non-urgent tasks? So you will not keep interrupting your team members from working.
  • Are you taking the time to understand the work style of each team member remotely? Are You individualizing your leadership style during this period of time?
  • Do you address team member’s concerns and uncertainties individually during this period of time?
  • What tools and technology will you use to ensure that communication and collaboration are done in an effective manner?

FINANCIAL CRISIS MANAGEMENT

How to reduce Employment Costs and ensure business operation continuity?

Reducing Employment Cost:

  • Can you delay recruitment, salary increase, a promotion you have planned for?
  • Review the benefits, training & allowance packages and invest only in areas that are critical during this period. Cut down any other benefits that are not critical at the moment. Is there a cost in this area that you can cut down right away?
  • Will you be able to reduce the salary for a short period of time? Reducing everyone’s salary by a small percentage might allow you to save money while keeping your human capital. If this is an option for your team, then you have to make sure you communicate it effectively ( contact us if you need help with this)
  • Can you offer different payment options to your contractors? E.g. paying them on hourly rate vs fixed monthly payments.
  • Is there an opportunity to reduce contract labours and re-distribute work to your permanent workforce?
  • Can you encourage your employees to take vacation leave or any other available leave?
  • Can you create a new agreement with your senior and key employees to be compensated fairly later? Perhaps receiving % of profits?
  • Can you offer involuntary leave without/with pay to your employees to save money?
  • The final and the most severe option will be headcount reductions if the situation continues for a long time. (Contact us if you need additional support on how to do this without dropping the morale of your team)

Keep Your Operation Alive:

  1. Involve your entire team to think about how they can cut down costs in their own role! How can they make it work with limited resources and budget?
  2. Can you brainstorm with your team on how to introduce new and alternate revenue streams to the business?
  3. Is there any line of credit available for your business? Can you talk to your financing partners to see what additional options your business may have?
  4. Is there any opportunity to convert your fixed cost to variable cost? Can you sell assets and lease them back for this period of time?
  5. Can you offer discounts solutions to the customers if they pay quickly? In this way, you can secure your short-term financing. This could be a viable option if bank loans and government funding is not available.
  6. Can you ask for a letter of credit from your own vendors/suppliers? Can you establish an agreement with your suppliers that both of you can live with? Can you help your critical vendor to survive by creating a new agreement considering your current status? Perhaps buy a stake in the company or receive % of the profit?
  7. Can you provide a letter of credit to your clients so they can still remain your clients but pay you later when the period of crisis is over?
  8. Can you audit your payable to ensure you are paying the necessary fees, taxes, etc for the right amount?
  9. Can you ask for discounts from your vendors and suppliers? Are you taking advantage of available discounts and promotions?
  10. How are you managing your inventory? Are your items perishable? How can you ensure to have the right amount of inventory to operate?
  11. Can you take advantage of your business insurance opportunities and policies?
  12. Can you revisit your Capital Investment Plans and assess what is really necessary and critical at this period of time? What investments can be postponed? What capital investments are necessary to gain for the rebound?

We are Jalapeño Employee Engagement, a team of strategists, researchers, designers, and web developers and diverse consultants who share a passion for making work better. Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, we work closely with companies both at home and around the world to bring our vision of a better workplace to life. We spice up companies’ performance and engagement, resulting in higher productivity and profitability for your company. We love ideas, data and helping companies uncover the hidden potential of their workforce. By using data and science, we measure the pulse on your peeps. We craft tailored, visually beautiful (you’re welcome) and easy to understand reports to make the data accessible. Then we don’t leave you high and dry; we mentor teams along the way and make sure there are accountability and movement in the right direction.Our mission is to help companies tap into this unrealized potential of what the workplace can be and to use data to drive happier, more engaged and more involved workplaces