It’s all about relationships in this second installment of our 10-part Strategies for Success Amid COVID-19 blog series. Inspired by The “Scary Times” Manual by Dan Sullivan and Strategic Coach, Alexander’s is sharing strategies to help support growth and positive thinking during uncertain times. While the first strategy is concentrated on general relationships, this second strategy is directly aimed at professional relationships. Along with strategies for developing client relationships during COVID-19, we highlight ways to improve relationships with those you work with.
“In uncertain times, people become frightened about the viability of their “commodities” ‒ the things they sell and the jobs they hold. A more strategic response here is to disregard your own commodity and focus on deepening the power and possibility of all your relationships ‒ with family, friends, team members, suppliers, clients, customers, and prospects. Every time you strengthen a relationship, the viability of your commodity will increase.”-Dan Sullivan, Strategic Coach
Forget About Your Commodity, Focus on Your Relationships
One of the immediate concerns during economic instability is the fear of how we’re going to make money. This is a universal worry that impacts the lowest-paid intern all the way up to the owner. One reflex-like response is to start aggressively attempting to constantly prove business value and significance to clients, coworkers, etc. While it's still important to fulfill your responsibilities, ensuring you’re maintaining solid relationships will be more beneficial long term.
It can be very stressful if you're purely focusing on the bottom line when economies struggle since you have little control. However, building strong professional relationships is one of the few things you have some control over. Deepening relationships can help you outlast financial struggle and will payoff in the future. In the business world, there will never be a negative to increasing trust and comfort in your relationships.
Developing client relationships during COVID-19
You should have already adjusted how you interact with clients by now. If you haven’t already, categorize and prioritize the issues your clients are likely facing. Be as specific as possible so you can have a better idea of their circumstances during the pandemic. This list should continue to evolve throughout the course of the pandemic and your communications should be based around it.
Having meaningful and consistent contact while developing client relationships during COVID-19 is crucial. No, you are not trying to push sales. Trying to constantly sell or push information that they don’t care about will turn them away. Instead, your only goal is to give and gather information. The information being distributed should only be relevant to them and the issues of what they are facing. This crisis is a great opportunity to show them that you care about them, not just their money.
You should be communicating your support as well as finding out how they’re doing and the challenges they are facing. Look for ways to help them ride out the storm - even if it may hurt financially right now. The landscape is changing daily so you should consider frequent follow-up with clients as you deem appropriate.
If nothing more, see this process as an investment into your future. These clients likely can't do much business right now, but they won’t forget who helped them during tough times. The aid you provide while developing client relationships during COVID-19 will make them more comfortable and committed to doing business with you down the road.
Developing work relationships during COVID-19
It has been a well-understood principle in the world of business that the lifeblood of any company are the people that work there. Each person contributes to the culture and success of the business, no matter their role. However, workers begin to struggle with performance when they feel disconnected with and/or unappreciated by those that they work with. This anxiety surrounding work life is a real danger now that many workplaces are having to adapt to new work environments and a hurting economy. One of the best ways we can combat this uneasiness in ourselves and others during this time is concentrating on developing work relationships during COVID-19.
It may be as important as it has ever been to have high quality work relationships. It's also the hardest time to accomplish this. Putting in the effort to maintain and grow relationships during difficult times will increase productivity, collaboration and morale of all those involved.
By now, your workforce may be spread all over the place working remotely. You might have had to make some tough calls with some layoffs. Or, maybe your business has somehow made it this far without having to make any major adjustments. No matter your company’s situation, those employees who have survived this far are not necessarily feeling any better than they did when this all started.
The best way to ease the stress of those that work for you is to have transparent communication and sincere action. Be open with your employees about the state of things in the company as well as their position. This will be an opportunity to start a candid line of communication where both you and them can ask questions and share problems. With millions of Americans filing for unemployment, these conversations should include updates on job security when appropriate. Helping your employees feel as comfortable as possible rather than focusing on their job responsibilities and performance.
Another important aspect of these conversations should be getting feedback and making a personal connection. Do they feel safe coming to work? Are they having to alter their work schedule around taking care of kids at home? Can you or your company be of any help? Be flexible and make accommodations when you can. These actions help show that you sincerely value them as a staff member and as a person. This will this help your employees be more effective now while building a reputation that will help with retention and recruitment.
Having open and transparent communication is a two-way street that requires both parties to be on the same page. If you want your boss and peers to be open with you, you need to be meeting them halfway. Don’t be afraid to share issues that are impacting your job performance and to ask questions about your job status or work expectations. This will help you be on the same page with everyone around you and will eliminate the stress that comes from feeling out of the loop.
Along with work-related conversations, you should look for ways to still appropriately socialize on a more personal level. If you thought we needed chats by the water cooler to break up workdays in the past, imagine what we all need right now to help us stay sane. Corresponding through work may be the only interaction you or others get right now. With that in mind, take the time to talk about things other than work and be supportive of them in whatever way you can. These conversations will help boost morale and improve the emotional state of all those involved.
All of the insecurities and social distancing may make you more inclined to isolate yourself from others at work. However, as you become more involved with those you work with, you have an opportunity to develop relationships that can help further your career down the road. These simple conversations you have will build rapport with peers that will transition into better team collaboration. Being more involved is also an opportunity to show your employers that you’re a team player makes it easier for them to see the hard work you are putting in.
More Strategies for dealing with anxiety and stress during COVID-19...
We hope that you use this series as a resource to find happiness and continue progress during times of uncertainty. Follow Alexander’s on LinkedIn and Instagram as we feature eight more strategies to transform negativity into growth during COVID-19.
Strategies For Success Amid COVID-19:
1. Forget about yourself, focus on others
2. Developing client and work relationships
3. How to create value for clients
4. Focus on your opportunities
5. Why you should focus on your progress, not your challenges
6. Forget about the future, focus on today
7. Six ways to focus on your future self
8. How to respond to unexpected events
9. Focus on your available resources
10. How to be more grateful