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Tonic Essentials: Be strong and move on

Published on Monday, 8th June 2020, contributed by Tonic Creative Business Partners

The challenges are coming in waves. At first it was getting everyone set up to work from home. Then about detailed financial forecasting and planning staff resources. Now it should be about trying to shape your business for the longer term, while continuing to keep close to what’s happening every day.

Sadly, it’s likely to continue like this for some time to come, with uncertain timings and unpredictable outcomes creating occasional periods of optimism among those of stark reality.

In this situation it’s easy for agency leaders to become passive, particularly when faced with the day to day monotony of working from home and the energy sapping stress of almost continuous video meetings. It’s hard to blame anyone for just focusing on ensuring their staff are safe and well and on making sure the finances aren’t too far away from their predictions.

But this is a time when strong leadership really matters. When the differences between those that can and those that can’t become very obvious. And when the future winners and losers are created.

When the key decisions and pace of activity is driven by client demands good agency leadership can be relatively easy. But when those things need to be initiated – as in the current environment – the challenge is very different. Leaders need to set the agenda, focus efforts and create momentum.

We’re not saying this is an easy task, but here are a few tips that we hope will help you rise to the challenge:

1 LOOK TO THE FUTURE
Many of you will have learned new things about cash forecasting, virtual communications and Government schemes. But once you’ve got these in place you should have your head up looking to the future of your agency and what will make you succeed in the post-Covid era. Good cash management is important and will help you survive, but it won’t make you a winner and shouldn’t be your everyday purpose.

2 SHARE AND DELEGATE
In this locked-down environment it’s easy for leaders to become very insular, working alone or with just a couple of individuals. But the future success of your agency is important to many more people. And a lot of your team have ideas and energy to contribute to making your agency as good as it can be in both the shorter and longer term. You’ll have leaders in many parts of your business, make sure you’re using them. 

3 MAKE SMALL STEPS COUNT
In the past you may have set objectives for your team on a 90-day or six-month basis. But faced with the current challenges and with people working at home, the approach needs to be very different. Leaders need to set objectives and tasks for their teams on a daily or weekly basis – with each being a contribution to moving to a much better place. The small steps ensure that people don’t lose their focus when working alone and they create a sense of momentum when achieved. They can also be a basis for celebrating success – rather than focusing on what’s been lost.

4 CHALLENGE YOURSELVES
Many people are claiming that the lockdown has increased their focus and efficiency. And on straightforward everyday tasks this is probably true. But this is not a time when this type of head-down productivity really counts. It’s progress towards being a strong business again that really matters and leaders need to push themselves, and their teams, to get on that track. Ask yourself at the end of each week whether you and your team have done everything possible to ensure your business will be at its best in the future. If the answer is no, you’ll know what next week’s challenge is going to be.