July 4, 2020
Jacki HartOK. Phew! We’ve all made it this far after a very uncertain and stressful spring. So far, (hopefully) so good.

There’s a lot of boxes you’ve had to tick this year: pandemic management, PPE sourced and in ample supply, new policies in place, new procedures to practice and learn, customers aligned with company protocols, staff trained on staying healthy, and what to do if they, or someone in their home isn’t. The list of adjustments and accommodations is a long one, and it’s very dynamic.

Everyone in our entire profession has had to adapt to a new normal with very little notice.

In my last column, I coined the phrase ‘Compliant vs. Complacent’. And, I want everyone reading this to think about how well YOUR team is performing and how consistently they are exercising every required step of compliance EVERY hour of every day. For example: Wearing a mask in 30 C weather sucks. Let alone doing physical work while wearing one. It’s going to be a tough summer as long as Covid-19 lurks in the shadows.

It’s great that our economy and movements are opening up, but at the same time, we’re playing a bit of roulette with the probability of a second wave of the pandemic. What does that have to do with your business? Everything.

From late March, through to early May, there were countless webinars and online meetings to provide you with sound pandemic business advice. Topics were widely ranging and crucially important: definitions of just who was essential, how many people to a truck, variances between regions, where to find washroom facilities, how to interact with clients, and so on. To help people continue to move forward, industry consultants pivoted quickly to create resources for businesses on many levels. Among these many resources, I developed and ran several five-day boot camps on the 5 Cs of Crisis Management: Cash Flow, Communication, Culture, Course of Action and Compliance.

I want you to keep these five points in mind as you move through the summer months, into fall, and maybe even into another shutdown if predictions about an inevitable second wave come true. I want you to be calm and ready if and when you need to be.
You need to stay the course — the pandemic management course. I know many of you are having hugely successful sales partly because people working from home want their yards to look better, but we could be shut down once again if things go in the wrong direction. So you need to be prepared with a plan if that second wave comes.

When it comes to Culture and Compliance, I’d like you to consider my favourite expression: “Culture eats compliance (policies and procedures) for breakfast.” If your team isn’t on the page, you need them to be thinking and acting the way you need them to. It makes no difference how many posters you use, how many sanitizing kits are in your trucks, your store or on work sites. Culture will either see you through a crisis, or destroy your best intentions every time.

An engaged team, who feel appreciated, safe and protected, who are proud, hopeful and always learning — that’s your ticket to compliance and success, pandemic or no pandemic.

So, as we slip into the busy, but more steady pace of the summer months, a word of caution from me: focus on your company culture. Build it, grow it, talk to your team. Engage them with great questions. When was the last time you asked each employee: “What do you need from me to be successful today?” or “How do you feel about where our community is on the pandemic right now?” Show empathy consistently, and they’ll show up.

Think about systems this summer, because they are the key to the 5 Cs when they’re working well. How well are your company systems working? What’s broken? What are you measuring? How do the metrics compare to targets? What’s getting in the way of blowing past profit projections?

Look deep and look often into how your people are not only performing, but how they’re feeling about it. Look for things to celebrate. Bring joy. Bring safety. Bring confidence.

In unprecedented times, you need to be nimble. Consider things you haven’t before and keep your eye on the horizon. Work ON your business this summer.

This column is dedicated to the memory of my friend and mentor, Jean Paul Lemarche. JPL taught me first and foremost to be a successful, profitable entrepreneur — with an exit strategy. Second, but equally impactful, he taught me to be a successful business coach and consultant. I miss him already, and cherish his wisdom. If JPL were here, with respect to staying on top of pandemic management strategies, I know he would say, “Giddy up!”

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Jacki Hart CLM
Prosperity Partners Program Manager