Navigating the New Normal

For certain, there is nothing normal about what we are living through. To be anxious for ourselves, our loved ones and our businesses right now is not only understandable, we wouldn’t be human if we weren’t. The unpalatable reality, however, is that adapting our businesses to whatever they need to be right now is our only option if we want to still be standing once this pandemic is finally behind us.

Economists predict a very rapid recovery once the worst is behind us.

If we believe them, we really cannot afford to waste the next weeks whilst we come to terms with and get our heads round what needs to change. Not only will a focus on the new, normal keep us all sane, it is also crucial if we want our businesses and people to emerge ready to take advantage of the recovery when it comes, which it will.

So what are the practical steps we can all be taking right now?

1. From anxiety to action

There are plenty of articles circulating about mindfulness but personally, I struggle to find any kind of inner calm when I am not clear on what the problem is. Right now, like many, I am anxious about my family staying safe. Other than the strict respect of social distancing rules and massively increased levels of flat cleaning, there is little more I can do on that front right now.

My second anxiety is ensuring that the business I have worked so hard to build over the past three years weathers the next weeks and as importantly, those of the wonderful clients I have had the great honour of working with over the course of my career. Here, there is a lot that can be done right now to help businesses remain client focused and ensure their own clients are properly supported.

Focusing on the doing won’t make the anxiety disappear but it will ensure we are positioning ourselves for the very best outcomes.

2.    Agree the actions

For most of us the actions are clear. Almost all businesses need to speak to clients, to reassure and find solutions. For the lenders reading this, this work is critical in protecting our economy but for businesses in all sectors, the fact that we found the time to speak right now, will solidify relationships and position us in pole position for the recovery.

How do you ensure that a team which is now almost all home based and distracted by unfolding events, remains focused on the actions which will make the biggest difference?

  • Be clear on exactly what you need them to do today and this week. Whatever they were focused on two weeks ago is almost certainly no longer the key priority. Customer contact is critical right now so if this is what you need the team to do, be clear on the why, what and how.
  • Manage the message. Be sure you are clear on what and how you want to communicate with your clients. The old adage, “people will remember how you made them feel, not what you said “remains ever more valid.
  • Include regular coffee breaks (I plan a virtual coffee break with a friend or colleague every day), a lunchbreak to get some fresh air and daily exercise (my yoga classes have moved online as have many other classes).
  • Limit your access to social media and source high quality, useful information on the virus only. As a lifelong reader of both the FT and the Economist, I would suggest now is the time to get a subscription if you don’t have one yet.
  • Share the good news. Whilst accepting that most activity is around customer care right now, don’t discount the fact that caring for a customer may involve providing them with your services. There are plenty of opportunities to help our clients through the current climate by providing them with bespoke solutions to their current needs. Make sure you share these wins with your colleagues through whatever your medium of choice may be. It will make everyone feel better.
  • Leverage the tech. Where webinar is possible use it every time. Seeing someone’s face has never been more valuable and is almost always preferable to a phone call where the listener is more easily distracted by incoming emails and news feeds and where the sense of connection is much lower.

It was a treasury manager who once told me that the only difference between successful FX management and failure was implementation. This remains true for successful navigation of the new normal.

3. Find new ways to have fun

These are some of my favourites.

Virtual Ballet

Virtual Museums

Virtual walks in the park

Virtual tours

Sarah Beauvallet


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