I have to say, it’s tough.
When the pandemic hit and the announcements of lockdown started, I didn’t think too much about it since SEO Hacker is an SEO company and we’re playing in the digital marketing industry.
But the economy is an intertwined machine. If you are part of a larger machine and it slows down to almost a grinding halt, then you are going to slow down along with it.
Our receivables have become just that – receivables. We weren’t able to collect what we needed to for the people in the team.
It was tough – and our team members all have it tough up to today.
I remember a story from Bob Chapman’s experience as the leader of his company Barry-Wehmiller during the 2008 recession in the US. They suddenly lost 30% of their orders so their board of directors, along with Chapman got together to discuss what they were going to do.
The board suggested to layoff people en-masse but Chapman rejected the idea.
Instead he said this: ‘It’s better that we should all suffer a little than any of us should have to suffer a lot.’
I have read this idea from a book – I’m not sure where. But it left a mark on me.
I wanted to be a leader who would put my people first. Above and beyond myself.
This pandemic gave me that opportunity to practice this.
Push finally came to shove with the COVID-19 and I had a choice to make – do I do what I said I would do and put my people first? Or do I do what’s comfortable and best for myself and my family?
I got together with the leaders of the team and we decided to do the former.
Thank God we did.
Morale went up, volunteers raised hands to help and we were even able to pull some of the meager collections we had to donate to people in our team who were not able to do any work at all.
I’m not saying that things went perfect – it didn’t. There were some people who are unable to see the big picture and play long-term. They expressed their desire to resign.
It always hurts when family decides to move on. But as the leader, you cannot let that get into your heart – it is your head that you need working for you especially in a crisis.
We scrambled to engineer a new hiring process for remote workers and we are using it already as I write this post. I’m not 100% sure how well it would be able to weed out potentially bad hires from good ones but I’m quite confident in the process as we derived it from our pre-pandemic hiring process.
“Crisis separates the pretenders from the players and there is no playbook to help us.” – John Maxwell
I guess this quote sums up one highlight I experienced in this crisis.
There are people in the team who are real team players – they will do whatever it takes to win. They might complain – but they are complaining because we can make a difference and improve.
The pretenders, however, are simply complaining for themselves.
Real team players are also self-starters. They are self-managers. They are self-leaders. They move things on their own.
Pretenders eat up more bandwidth from the leadership and management team because they do not move at par with the rest of the players and need to be led, managed and checked-on by other leaders in the team.
It’s been a tough time but there are great things that came out of it.
As a leader, I am always on the lookout for those things.
“Never let a good crisis go to waste” – Winston Churchill
Be proactive rather than reactive.