As the world stares down the humanitarian and economic crisis of the coronavirus pandemic, many executives—who may also be scrambling to figure out video conference call etiquette and how to work from home with kids—are feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Priorities are constantly in flux, and new challenges present themselves by the day, if not the hour. Unforeseen and urgent tasks must be done just to keep the business running, let alone look to the future.
Independent consultants and executives are a critical resource for those who are struggling to adjust to this new reality. If you’re feeling underwater, here are a few ideas for making your life easier:
1. Support new workstreams with experienced project management.
Need to create a new WFH policy, stabilize your supply chain, or figure out how to maintain the health and safety of your contract workers—ideally by the end of the day? Adding these immense, pressing tasks to a full plate of work isn’t impossible, but it does require some additional organizational support. Use experienced senior project managers to keep everyone on track and leveraged.
Independent project managers are comfortable working remotely and can help your overstretched staff coordinate calendars, communicate with stakeholders, and make sure critical deliverables are on schedule.
2. Hand off as many day-to-day tasks as possible.
Between contingency planning, school closures and city lockdowns, ordinary business tasks are hard to keep up with these days. Think about batching some of the stuff that’s piling up on your desk and handing it off as a project to someone who’s experienced and capable. Outsource what you’re not good at to someone who is. Save your bandwidth to focus on completing the new strategies and tasks that will take your business forward; get help with the other essentials.
Independent consultants and executives can easily take on project portfolios to keep important but less urgent things running while you focus on new priorities.
3. Wish you could clone yourself (or key members of your team)? Do it!
Given the scale of the crisis, many of us have more to do than ever at work and at home, even as we’re preparing to make do with less. Consider replicating critical skills for the short term: appoint a temporary Chief of Staff to seriously leverage yourself in the short term or import temporary executives to beef up the critical skills needed NOW for your team.
4. Get advice and, when needed, expert help.
Find ways to compare notes with colleagues across the world with similar challenges. Take advantage of the growing number of professional chat groups and roundtables being offered. And don’t hesitate to reach out for expertise from the outside. For example, the pandemic has exposed gaps in specialized areas, from business continuity planning to logistics, that require expertise, care, and attention to solve. If you need help creating plans, problem solving something really tricky, or just an objective perspective, get expert help.
Many independents specialize in specific niches by industry, function, or situation; these experts can support you with tried and tested experience.
5. Get emergency backfill at the management tier.
Every business leader needs the support of his or her A team to respond to a crisis. Of course, you also need to keep the business running as they work on other things. And, if we start to see health absenteeism rising, be prepared to get and use backfill for key positions.
Independent professionals are available on demand, however you want and need to use them. They can backfill your A team proactively or in response to unforeseen gaps.
A fast, flexible, and low-risk source of skills, expertise, and capacity can be a tremendous business asset to help you through uncertain times. So if you’re struggling in any of these areas, get in touch.
About the AuthorMore Content by Sandra Pinnavaia