“Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.” – Winston Churchill
There has not been a shortage of things to worry or stress about in the past ten months. We’ve experienced any number of things that would normally be enough to put us on edge – and then we’ve experienced a global pandemic just for a little extra tension.
I’ve been involved in a lot of conversations with leaders during that time period, and the biggest challenge in those conversations has been to make them constructive. There are so many negative ideas and negative events and scary possibilities that it’s easy to just start listing them all and driving yourself mad.
We do need to understand where we are NOW, just like we always have. Understanding that, however, doesn’t mean allowing it to drive us down a dark hole of fear. It means identifying the challenges that we actually have to overcome and that are critical to our businesses, not just the ones that scare us the most.
And once we’ve identified those things, then address them. Don’t just leave them out there like the bogeyman, waiting to jump out from behind a corner. Start thinking practically about how you might deal with those challenges. Think about each situation, each obstacle, and think about WHERE you want to be in terms of that situation or obstacle in a year’s time.
For example, don’t just worry that in our new normal people might want to work remotely and you don’t have the technology or the management skills to handle it and it’ll probably be a disaster and we might as we just close up shop now. Believe it or not, that’s almost a direct quote from a leader from earlier this year.
Instead, think about what work arrangements might look like in the future. What would you like them to look like? If you envision a certain type of employee (somebody in sales, for example) working remotely, then what kind of technology might they need? Maybe a laptop/tablet, access to the company network, phone, etc. Make a list & start thinking about how you’ll check items off the list.
How will you keep those people engaged and connected? Maybe you’re going to start having weekly digital team meetings, maybe you’re going to get them all together in person on a quarterly basis, maybe you’re going to have one-on-one meetings. Think about what might work best and start putting together a plan for it.
Above all, stay flexible. Part of what makes decision-making difficult for some people is that they have in their head that, whatever decision they make, they’re stuck with it forever. In some cases that may be true, but very rarely. You try something, you evaluate it, you adapt, and you move on.
Don’t just sit around and stress about barriers. Figure out which ones you can address and start addressing them. Start now.