When times get tough for a business, the overwhelming instinct can be to slash whatever seems not to be working. Just like how overweight ships need to jettison their ballast, business leaders often feel the need to cut things down and scale things back when a crisis approaches — but this often ends up doing more harm than good.
Protect your Business in Crisis
As your company prepares to weather an approaching storm, there are some elements of your organization that need to be protected at all costs. You’ll want to be sure that your core operations are as strong as possible when you face whatever comes next, and that means nurturing some of the following teams in the process:
1. Knowledge Management
When crisis strikes at a business, the last thing you need is a messy, incoherent response. You need to be fully aware of exactly how to communicate with your partners and clients in order to put forward a unified front — but without knowledge management, it’s nearly impossible to do so.
A knowledge management system or corporate wiki, can help you classify, store, and easily retrieve your company’s content. By allowing you to call upon older content, knowledge management systems can help you maintain a consistent message and style. In times of crisis, keeping things clear and consistent is more important than ever, and haphazard content management is the last thing you need tripping you up.
2. Customer Relations
Just because your business is in a state of panic doesn’t mean your customers need to be too — clients lose faith in a business that can’t handle a crisis well, so you need to be sure that you don’t lose track of your customers in the shuffle. A healthy customer relations team and policy can help keep your clients calm during moments of uncertainty.
Without customers, there’s no business — if recent events put you at peril of losing some key clients, pour all of the necessary resources into your customer experience team in order to get everything smoothed out. As long as you have your consumer base locked down, there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.
3. Digital Marketing
The COVID-19 crisis has turned the marketing world upside down, making old methods and styles of messaging nearly obsolete overnight. As marketers survey the wreckage and begin to adapt, one component of advertising has proven sturdier than ever: digital marketing.
As web traffic has increased over the past several years, digital marketing has become more lucrative — and recent events have propelled this trend faster than anyone could have imagined. No matter who your leads are, they’re probably online more than ever before, so giving your digital marketing a boost can expand your client base right when you need it the most.
4. Project Management
It’s the job of a project manager to keep things running smoothly, so a sudden company crisis is the last time you’d want to cut down on your managerial staff. Effective project management is an invaluable part of keeping a business going through challenges, and difficult times can even be invaluable learning experiences for some budding managers.
Unlike some of the other areas of business on this list, project managers have certain skills that may tempt you to actually siphon some of them away from their traditional roles and towards temporary crisis management positions. While their expertise may help you through some difficult quagmires, removing the lead on a certain project to help with something else will likely create as many problems as it solves. Expand your management if necessary, but try not to patch new holes with existing plugs.
Depending on the nature of the crisis your business is undergoing, you might have need for financial services that simply weren’t on your radar a few months prior. Between the Payroll Protection Program, stimulus checks, and the possibility of a new round of economic support, many companies have had to jump through new hoops and sign new forms in order to stay afloat recently — a process made that much easier by the right accountants.
Whether you keep your accounting in-house or outsource the services, you need the people who handle your company’s money to be the rock on which you stand. Recent economic fluctuations mean some businesses are seeing collapsed revenues while others are having record-setting quarters — no matter where you are on that spectrum, you won’t be able to keep things sustainable without reliable bookkeeping on your side.
As with digital marketing, the rise in internet usership has made the work of IT professionals more valuable than ever. Having an effective and usable digital infrastructure in 2020 is a non-negotiable for all businesses. It doesn’t matter if your crisis is coming from sales, HR, or marketing — you can’t afford to let your IT team suffer as a result.
Far too many business leaders and entrepreneurs set up their tech team and silo it off into the corner of the office. The structure of your IT team can have an outsize impact on how effectively they integrate within the rest of your business and keep your online presence strong. Going dark for just a few hours can shake up your company in a completely unaffordable manner, and a well-aligned IT team is your last defense against something like that happening.
When a fire’s been set under your company, your sales team is likely the last thing on your mind — but this is a dangerous attitude to have. As you rush to put out that fire, misallocation of resources can lead to a serious drop in new clients, simply laying the groundwork for another crisis a bit further down the line.
Selling in difficult times may seem like a waste of energy, but you need a steady stream of new customers to keep things afloat as you work to iron out your company’s issues. Your sales team needs a high degree of encouragement and autonomy in order to function properly; if you can trust them to consistently catch the big fish for you, you can spend more of your time keeping everything else moving along effectively.
With new crises come difficult decisions, but be wary of the instinct to downsize when money is tight or prospects low. Your business is designed to attract, serve, and keep clients — if you promote the teams that do so most effectively, there’s no storm you won’t be able to see the other side of.