The Covid-19 pandemic has brought the world to its knees, with people losing jobs and businesses (especially small ones) being hit the most. Over the last one year, the world grappled with the relatively new concepts of work-from home and businesses had to remodel to keep going. The economy, however, is on the verge of recovery. Business experts are offering their views about how effective communication, leadership and decision making can help a business to get through crisis like this. In a webinar titled “Leaders Who Survive the Storm,” organized by JCI Bangladesh, a set of three experts’ panellists talked about how to deal with crisis.
Speaking of the challenges, Apex Footware Managing Director Syed Nasim Manzur said that the biggest challenge the businesses probably faces was the inability to physically connect with the customers. While he did concede that work from home was a saviour, he still feels that human contact cannot be replaced because at the end of the day businesses rely on relationships. Another challenge was “impoverishment” or a sharp decline in demand across the business industry. There has been an unprecedented change in consumer behaviour and in order for businesses to survive, it is imperative to have a steady cash flow.
President of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry Shams Mahmud sees the pandemic as an opportunity to see small problems within big organizations and fixing those. He said that the government’s quick response and business friendly policies during the pandemic have saved big businesses but SMEs are still facing difficulties with loan disbursements. Regardless, he feels that the pandemic has given way to a wide plethora of opportunities and innovation, which businesses can capitalise on. He does warn that the second wave of Covid-19 that is expected to hit the country will affect the export market but opportunities in fintech, health sector and other areas are still plenty. Shams Mahmud suggests looking away from the traditional landscape and see that the digital marketplace holds a booming future. However, instead of just looking forward, he also suggests collecting data from at least six months of the pandemic to see whether indeed growth took place.
Meanwhile, Directive Communication Psychology Founder and bestselling author Arthur Carmazzi is of the view that in order to succeed it is important to reverse engineer your objective into behaviour because different environments bring out different facets of people. He echoed Shams Mahmud’s thought on the pandemic having good costs as well. In fact, he feels that a pandemic is the best time to sculpt organisation sculpture. He said, instead of telling them what to do, workers or employees should be empowered to create an ideal workspace. Since crises bring together people it is more important than ever to create a supportive teamwork so that they have a sense of purpose. For Syed Nasim Manzur organisation structure is culture specific but the most fundamental thing is integrated internal and external communication. Like Arthur Carmazzi he suggested mapping out a game plan and reworking that plan as situations come up during the pandemic. He suggests sorting out the good costs and the bad costs by diving deep into the organisation and simplifying operation through innovation.
Leadership played a big part in all the businesses moving forward. Both Carmazzi and Nasim Manzur agreed that leadership is not of a specific kind and doesn't necessarily mean a number of people reporting to you. In fact, good leadership identity is born out of finding what you are good at. All three panellists agreed that a safe workplace for workers is of utmost importance for a business to be efficient in a crisis. Shams Mahmud says that businesses must acknowledge that workers make it efficient. He drew examples from his own company where not cutting down on salaries and bonuses lead to an increase in the percentage of efficiency. The speakers said that instead of being obsessed with turnover, liquidity should be prioritised as well as recognising effort to take the businesses forward during a crisis.
Watch the the full webinar