As a leader, you don’t need to hear about the fundamental strain that was 2020. You lived it, after all. Instead, Vince Dawkins of Enertia Software shares why a year of struggle within his own company was also one of opportunity and growth — and how fostering an ability to approach change in new ways may yield the same results for your business.
As the pandemic wore on last year, it became increasingly clear that significant adjustments in conducting business would be at the heart of navigating constraints. So my company took inventory of our priorities. First, we ensured the health of our team, clients, families, and friends. We then identified ways to sustain ourselves in this new environment and regain momentum under a shifting set of conditions in our industry. Ultimately, we found value — rather than restraint — in repositioning when changes were necessary.
This isn’t to say that the process of adapting was smooth sailing. As a company, there were dips to contend with, operationally and at the workforce level. Complications come with not being able to divide one’s home life from the office. But this was something we eventually overcame by implementing virtual shutdowns that encouraged periodic time away from work.
That may seem counterintuitive, but when you have a team that deeply values the work they do — people who want nothing more than to see their company at the other end of this crisis — it can be a real challenge to get them to unplug. We set up simple health reminders throughout the month and promoted the use of PTO to ensure our employees didn’t get burned out. Flexibility and patience became the core of worker support.
In the burgeoning world of remote work, we found additional challenges. Our team had varying degrees of comfort connecting on video. We prioritized remote training so employees would have a working familiarity in their new environment. Then, we gradually implemented video attendance as a requirement. This led to both competency and confidence in connecting and collaborating with one another.
We also found that not all customers were as comfortable with making the transition to remote communication, which gave additional opportunities to help them integrate video tools and, therefore, look to us as a valuable resource. Plus, remote communication allowed us to connect with customers on a deeper level than ever before.
Looking back on 2020, we can begin to appreciate the opportunities and insights it offered. Here are some we identified within our own company:
- Build on communication. When our ability to interact with one another changed, so did we. Capitalizing on virtual resources and tapping into the creativity and innovation to engage teams and clients alike were essential in 2020. Even with a return to normalcy in sight, we’ll continue implementing the tools that allowed us to collaborate and serve our clients so well.
- Value access like never before. Remote-support technology (and, more importantly, the availability it offers) has given my company an invaluable chance to up its service quotient. Resources and access to our team increased. Through virtual platforms, we were able to engage a greater part of our client base and build out our knowledge infrastructure. For example, we created training and how-to videos to help customers troubleshoot if issues came up. In turn, support has become more expedient and intuitive for users.
- Foster, don’t force, change. Early on in the pandemic, we realized that adaptation would take time. As a result, we offered resources and professional development to ensure we weren’t dismissing talent. People adjust at different speeds and in different ways, after all. We found that the simple act of offering resources allowed our team to thrive in the face of change. Being flexible in how we presented solutions made us more agile and adaptable in providing the support our networks required.
- Recognize opportunity. Momentum for us came in the form of new service channels and assets. For example, creating our online platform, Enertia Live, gave customers the ability to connect, learn, and contribute to our company identity, which was impossible before the pandemic. We also adopted a virtual implementation method for new customers to ensure a smooth transition to our services and a strong partnership.
Despite being among the hardest hit industries, my company was able to find ways to grow. Adaptation was the crux of our strategy. And while technologies, capabilities, and services vary between industries, I believe that mindful and forward-thinking leadership — with a willingness to take on change — is how we’ll all advance effectively in the aftermath of the pandemic.