COVID-19: Six of my Business Learnings

COVID-19: Six of my Business Learnings

4 minutes

So far 2020 has been quite a year. We’ve all been affected by the virus, and some of us have also been infected by it. Most CEOs have spent this year working out how best to deal with a huge, unexpected crisis. This year has also provided a lot of valuable learnings, so I thought I’d share some of mine.  

COVID-19: Six of my Business Learnings

1. Be decisive
There are firms – and even governments – that didn’t react adequately to the news coming from China. Wishful thinking delayed people’s responses, because the outbreak felt so far away. As a global firm, we perhaps took the warnings more seriously. This enabled us to react earlier. In fact, we had a multi-disciplinary Emergency Response Team in place by the 1st of February. 

A part of BrandLoyalty’s manufacturing takes place in the regions that were early affected by COVID-19, so we couldn’t just wait and hope that our factories and supply lines would reopen in time. Instead, we took a deep breath and switched some of our production to other sites. I’m proud to say that not one programme had to be rescheduled or postponed due to any inability on our part to deliver.  


2. Make the most of your opportunities
Uncertainty can be paralysing, but you have to find ways to keep the momentum going. We actually speeded up during the slowdown, because it gave us time to think, plan and be creative. “Never waste a good crisis”, as the old adage goes. 

Over the past few months, while still working towards our existing goals, we’ve held lots of focus groups across all disciplines to clarify which directions we should be heading in next. This has already enabled us to set the basis for our 5-year strategy that encompasses all we need to build next generation happiness. Despite everything, 2020 has been an extremely creative year, and we’re more than ready to prepare our clients for loyalty in the ‘new normal’.

We actually speeded up during the slowdown, because it gave us time to think, plan and be creative. Claudia Mennen, CEO BrandLoyalty

3. Trust your people and welcome their contributions
I’ve always judged people on their output, not their presence. From February till June, 90% of our staff were working from home. Even now, over 50% of our people are working remotely. And everything is going smoothly.  

However, it is important to stay connected. During the lockdown, we held daily virtual meetings and started a ‘BrandLoyalty goes viral’ blog. This made us all feel part of the team, and actually helped us to get to know one another better. Colleagues also brought several great initiatives to the table, such as regional digital events and a global initiative to have chats over coffee with other colleagues who were picked at random. We even started virtual cooking lessons to stay healthy and keep our motivation up! 


4. Good relationships give you flexibility
Our clients and suppliers have been really fair with us during the past nine months. They have supported us all the way. For example, EURO2020 had to be moved to 2021, so any programmes based on that had to be rescheduled too. We’ve been able to make the necessary adjustments because we already had a good working relationship with our partners.

The whole situation is still evolving in terms of logistics, legislation, regions and so on. Our global network of sales representatives, HR specialists and country managers has helped us to create a ‘middle ground’ of common practices, which we update as necessary. 


5. Take care of your health
As for myself, I was under a growing amount of stress, which was probably made worse by the lack of my usual physical activities and healthy eating habits. So I forced myself to get back into the healthy rhythm and switch off sometimes and just go for a walk in the countryside. As a leader, you do need to stay sane. 


6. Expect the unexpected
There will always be another crisis. It’s just a question of what and when. Use any breathing space you’ve got to make your organisation stress-resistant. As CEO, crisis anticipation is simply part of the job. 

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