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News Article

Planning, Communication, Execution: Keys to Bear With COVID-19

By Andrea Villar | Tue, 07/21/2020 - 12:33

As the COVID-19 crisis hit Mexico and people sheltered at home, something strange happened overnight: we got to see our boss, workmates and employees in their intimate spaces. All of this, while companies struggled to figure out how to overcome a health and economic crisis, inspire their team and then emerge stronger. 

“Times of crisis are perfect for authentic leaders to rise up and shine. At this moment, it is critical that leaders connect at a very human level with their teams. While strong leaders shine in this situation, weak leaders fail,” said Jan Griffiths, President and Founder of Gravitas Detroit at the webinar: “Leadership to Successfully Navigate Uncertain Times in the Automotive Industry” sponsored by Seraph and hosted by Mexico Business News. 

A crisis scenario means that things are moving really fast and in an uncertain way. According to Griffiths, two things can happen when a human being faces a crisis: they can either embrace it and deal with it or freeze. “We have gone through a period of denial, then anger came, as well as some sort of loss because we lost our lives as we once knew them. But now, we are in this period of acceptance and understanding what this new normal is all about,” she explained. 

It is in these situations, says Richard Payne, Engagement Manager at Seraph, that companies have an opportunity not only to optimize procedures but to streamline their footprint or their entire business. "Today, there are not only financial pressures for companies but geographical and political pressures, which will lead to more consolidation of businesses than what we saw in 2008 and 2009," he pointed out.

To help companies in the subsequent relocation or consolidation processes, the MOVE methodology, created by Seraph over the years proposes four key to success: alignment, planning, execution and closure. “The first two phases are critical.  We need to have a clear vision, understand where the company is going and why we are heading there. We want to make sure that we follow the plan. Because the plan is not just a suggestion, it is something that needs to be followed with discipline and perseverance. An objective without a plan is nothing more than just good intentions,” Richard Payne added.

Within this methodology, Payne highlighted, companies may never lose sight of their people. “It is not just about the products and the process. It is about our people. We need to have the same passion to taking care of our people, especially in difficult times such as the one we are going through,” he said. “If a company has 200 employees, its decisions not only influence those people but their families as well.” 

Taking care of people, Griffiths and Payne agree, has a lot to do with communication. For Griffiths, leaders need to manage the words they speak and even their body language to create a human connection with their teams and bring calm to the chaos while empowering them. However, showing vulnerability in times of crisis is also a sign of strength, she explained.

“We are not going to have all the answers and it is okay. In the automotive industry, we would like to have them. But at present, when dealing with suppliers, companies fail to negotiate and it takes great leadership to be able to put that script away and support them,” Griffiths pointed out.

“Communication is like blood to human body. It flows and gives life to the organization. And when it stops flowing it dies. But this can be something that we can turn into an opportunity to develop and engage our people. We need to have great leaders among employees. More than just project managers, a leader has to connect with people and to inspire and motivate their teams to reach high levels of success,” concludes Richard Payne.

Andrea Villar Andrea Villar Journalist and Industry Analyst