No matter which industry you lead, the impacts of the pandemic were widespread, touching every business type and catalysing change. COVID changed business, perhaps forever. From the telehealth industry that was a 38x increase in service demand to eCommerce, where global reviews doubled online the year after COVID began, everything has been impacted.
As leaders, with changing circumstances comes a need to adapt, ensuring that your business is able to continue functioning as well as possible. Adaptation to the next normal is essential, with those that fail to do so being left behind.
The term ‘Next Normal’ was coined by McKinsey, centring on the assumption that the post-viral era following COVID will have drastic business ramifications. Based on these ideas, CEOs now more than ever need to adapt their leadership styles, utilising the tools they have in front of them and ensuring their teams are set up for success.
In this article, we’ll be outlining central ways that CEOs can adapt to the ever-changing next normal, ensuring their leadership is as strong as possible going forward. Let’s get right into it.
How Has The World Of Business Changed?
Whether you take an economic, social, or strictly practical viewpoint, it’s undeniable that there have been severe changes to how business is run. On a global scale, companies are seeing shifts in their daily practices, moving online, opening new lines of communication, or turning to new mediums.
Three of the biggest changes that we’ve seen, and are still seeing, in the world of business are:
- Shift online – The remote work revolution has swept across the globe. Instead of the community, more and more people are now working from home, with over 76% of employees stating that they do not want to return to the office. With this new working situation, more creative business solutions are having to be created, with CEOs defining the digital strategy their company takes on.
- Reduction of International Travel – While flying from conference to conference in business class was a casual endeavour of many of those working in corporations, this is definitely not going to be returning as a normal function of business anytime soon. With limits on international travel, COVID restrictions altering between different countries, and vaccine rules all placing strain on travel, many businesses are realising how much easier it is to just hold virtual meetings.
- The importance of data – As more businesses are now conducting their day-to-day operations online, including between employees and the customer-facing side of the company, more data is being generated than ever. When utilised correctly, this data can provide an invaluable resource for businesses, laying down the foundations of a more data-efficient system for organisations.
Even the expert option falls on the side of drastic change, with over 55% of business experts claiming that the pandemic has radically altered how companies think about business strategy. With this paradigm shift, bringing with it new ways of working, new core ideas, and new concerns, CEOs are having to make changes to how they run their business.
How Can CEOs Prepare For Change?
Part of an effective management strategy is preparing for the inevitable. Even if you haven’t currently changed your leadership habits as a CEO, now is the time to begin. By shifting your habits, picking up new ones, and changing the way you work, you’ll lead by example. Not only will this help you to run your business more efficiently, but you’ll be giving your teams a better toolbox to deal with whatever is thrown at them.
Three key ways that CEOs can prepare for change are:
- Embracing the Cloud
- Using CRMs
- Value Your Employees
Let’s break these down further.
Using Data Warehouses And Cloud Solutions
A data warehouse is a system that will store data from both business and external sources at the same time. As they combine these data sets, a business leader will be able to use the information stored in these warehouses in order to make data-driven decisions around their business model.
Cloud data warehouses ensure a more reliable data structure, with services like Snowflake or Redshift being at the top of this field. By using a cloud solution, you’ll be able to increase the reliability of the sources that you’re pulling from, with faster data integration, compilation, and analytical summary tools ensuring that your business is always ready to produce.
Considering the vast amount of data out there, one of your key concerns as a CEO should be ensuring that your business makes the most of it. By conducting analysis on your data and industry trends, you’ll be able to stay ahead of trends and get to know your customer on a more accurate level.
Considering that 60-70% of businesses don’t make the most of their data, this is one of the best ways you can give your organisation a leg up as a CEO.
CRMS, or customer relationship management tools, are one of the central technologies that will help your business thrive. Instead of putting additional pressure on your teams and driving them towards burnout, a CRM can automate a range of challenges that are thrown your way.
By learning about your customers and their preferences, a CRM platform will be able to better accommodate your particular market. Additionally, as more businesses start to shift online, a CRM platform will allow you to keep lines of communication open between your teams and your customers, ensuring you have a stable, central communication hub.
From better customer service to higher employee efficiency, the toolset that CRMs encompass will ensure that your business stays on the right track. There’s a reason the CRM industry is expected to grow at 14% per year between 2021 and 2027, with this being a worldwide leader in terms of business tools.
As a CEO, adopting tools that will help your company succeed should be a primary strategy you take on.
Value Your Employees
While a great deal of focus is placed on tech, little changes to work schedules and approaches to task management can also make a huge impact on your business. As we move into new working situations, with more people working remotely than ever before, a change you can make is to place qualities like compassion and understanding first.
The quit rate in the US was firmly around 5% in 2019. Flash forward to now, and that rate is now at an incredible 33%. More than ever, people are realising that there is a lot more to life than a job they hate, with the devastating impact of COVID making people reassess what they value.
Instead of reacting negatively to this new employee movement, effective CEOs should start to try and make the lives of their current employees as good as possible. Considering that only 36% of employees are engaged in the workplace, CEOs should endeavour to make sure their business has an enjoyable company culture.
A company with happier employees, often driven by positive company cultures, has a 21% higher profitability. Instead of looking at employees as cogs in a machine, CEOs need to start treating people like the valuable resources they are. Part of that is ensuring fair pay, flexible schedules, work-from-home opportunities, and meetings to discuss employee workloads.
One easy way to instil a more positive culture is to ensure team leaders meet weekly with their employees. In these meetings, they should have the opportunity to give positive affirmation and feedback to those they’re working with. Not only will this boost employee engagement, but it also leads to more productive employees.
When faced with challenging situations, as we’ve seen in recent years, the correct path is not to be stricter with your employees, but instead turn to a more flexible working style where they feel supported.
The world is rapidly changing, but we can decide to change with it. Instead of being stuck in out-of-touch business practices, CEOs should focus on bringing their business into the next normal. By focusing on implementing technology that simplifies your business and allows your employees to perform to their maximum capacity, you’ll be effectively streamlining your business.
Alongside technology, making a move to a more flexible and compassionate working style will help boost employee satisfaction, leading to more loyal, happier, and more productive employees.
While the next normal is rapidly approaching, CEOs that take initiative can transform their processes and ensure their businesses stay on track for success.