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posted: 5/15/2020 1:00 AM

Stronger than ever and looking ahead

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  • Susan Fronk

    Susan Fronk

 

As one of the nation's largest employer associations, we have seen our members take bold steps and come up with innovative ways to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

We've proven we have the fortitude to take on this crisis and battle back. We did what was needed to get through; and now, we need to focus on the future and come out swinging!

Now more than ever, teams need their leaders to inform, inspire, and help rebuild the economy.

As a business leader, your vision can galvanize ideas and spur action, build confidence, and create new opportunities. This is a great time to upskill your team!

Years ago, I read an article about the characteristics of the bamboo plant, and it applies to what we are experiencing today. Everyone knows that bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants on earth, sometimes shooting up 2 feet per day. But it doesn't always grow that quickly; at times, it is nearly dormant, gathering nutrients and building strength so that it can take off again. That's where we are right now. Know your strengths and crystallize your business plan around them. Nurture your A Team so it can hit the ground running, carrying your company to new heights.

MRA surveyed thousands of Midwest companies during this crisis, producing critical data to support strategic decision-making. A crisis of this magnitude and velocity caught many off guard. MRA's latest Coronavirus Workplace Realities Survey shows that while overall levels of "Extreme Concern" are declining with regard to the immediate impact to the business, long-term business concerns are increasing. From the week of March 11 to the week of April 10, "Moderately Concerned" long-term impact increased from 30 to 44 percent.

We know these concerns are valid. But rather than dwell on the anxiety, we need to move forward to solve the problem.

Make plans now to emerge from this crisis, and develop long-term strategies to succeed. Leaders know their employees are priority one and they want to keep them healthy and get them back to work quickly and safely. That's what we see every day, from large companies and small: a first-things-first approach from leaders who are in it for the long game.

Here are a few things to think about for your own organization's recovery:

Quickly review:

• What caught you by surprise?

• What is one thing you could have done differently?

• What were you most proud of?

Think about:

• What have you found most helpful when communicating with your team?

• How has this pandemic shifted the way your business operates?

• What changes might you keep in place following the crisis?

Plan for:

• What should you do today to prepare for the next six to 12 months?

• Does your team possess the skills needed to execute your new future?

• Does your future workforce and supporting policies look different now?

• Did you establish strategic recovery planning sessions with team leaders and financial advisers?

• How do you capitalize on the new skills that undoubtedly emerged during this time?

My 92-year-old mom used to say, "That which doesn't kill you makes you stronger." If that is indeed the case, let's all make sure to understand the ways we survived, and will thrive again. Definitely wiser, and possibly much stronger for having endured this pandemic.

• Susan Fronk is president and CEO of MRA -- The Management Association, the largest employer association in the Midwest, providing resources to 4,000 businesses annually to help them thrive, www.mranet.org.