March 27


10 Lessons for Leaders in Crisis from Eric Ries (LEAN) – Ep. 5

By John Rake

March 27, 2020

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Read original email source direct from Eric Ries

1. Make a clear declaration that people come first, ahead of any other business priority.

I couldn’t agree more with Eric more on this point. You are the founder and the one who has absorbed risk in, but it’s the employees who keep the engine running. As business owners, we have a responsibility to the people we employ. They are our friends and family in the professional world. We cannot do this without them and their welfare is a top concern for our continued success.

Make that clear to your employees. Show them you care for their safety.

2. Take care of employees and your broader community.

Looking more broadly the community, especially if you’re a small business, is your lifeblood. We must view them as equally important to success as our own employees. If our employees create value for the community, it’s only because the community creates demand for that value.

3. Send a note out to vendors encouraging them to do extreme social distancing.

Eric continues in his email to explain the same care should be taken for our supply chains. Each link in the chain should be aligned and continuing towards the same goal. The market is interconnected web. We need everyone on the same page.

Keep on good terms with your vendors. Let them know what matters and how you can all stay safe together.

4. Offer a remote work stipend.

Here Eric gets into some financial support for helping your employees transition to a remote workplace. Some people will have no problem working from home. Others will need help setting up software, purchasing amenities, staying productive, focused and effective.

Everyone works differently. It may be in your best interest to give financial aid to help people operate successfully in a their new environment. Even if we only need them to work remotely for a month that’s a ton of output to gain in the long term.

5. Offer remote therapy as a benefit

Stress and anxiety are high. If you’re able to afford it (looking at bigger companies here) it may behoove you to take your employee’s mental health status seriously. There’s no question that this pandemic is causing a lot of uncertainty. Dealing with the unknown can be scary and not everyone handles the stress the same way.

I agree with Eric here that mental health is important, but how you implement that is up to you.

6. Get a corporate account on Outschool or something similar and pay for employees’ kids’ virtual classes.

With schools closing, it was only a matter of time before parents had to step in as home school professors. So, on top of the already stressful times, possible layoffs, and financial crunch, parents take on more responsibility. It’s a tough time for parents.

As a leader in your company, you can step up here. Offer a resource code for parents. The internet is full of resources. Check the original email for links that Eric suggests. Find something that works for you and your company.

7. Assign pandemic-specific jobs.

When we talk about stress, there’s nothing more stressful than knowing you have no control. Given the global pandemic, people feel less and less in control. People need a sense of purpose and action, without which we will all slowly lose faith and hope.

In the email, Eric gives some fantastic examples of how you as a leader can give people additional focus and purpose during these hectic times. He suggests anointed people with a role related to the crisis. For example, put someone in charge of scheduling a happy hour or a remote party. Give people something to look forward to and be happy for.

Another example and this was my personal favorite, put someone in charge of news and research. The news is full of negative and anxiety-inducing articles. Why subject everyone to that? Let one person collect relevant news to your business and share it with the others. It’s more efficient and far more practical.

8. Arrange social time to ward off isolation and loneliness.

Ok, simple and obvious point here. People are lonely and disconnected. I’ve said it from the beginning. Lock people in their homes all day and it’s clear what will happen. So, be proactive. Schedule some time, or delegate that responsibility. Either way, Find ways to be together despite our social distancing.

9. Join coalitions working on pandemic relief and response.

Here I believe Eric is asking people to mobilize their efforts and time towards a aid or charity. What a fantastic way to bring people purpose and action, but also address suffering in other areas of your community. It will be harder to do that during a lockdown environment, but I think we can come up with some creative ways to remotely offer aid.

10. Match donations to relief efforts or related nonprofits.

If you match 401k contributions in your company perhaps you could also match charity donations during this time of crisis? For most companies, this will be a hard sell. The bottom line is already razor-thin for most of us, but if you can afford it I can’t think of a better way to incentivize people to help others in need.

If you’re able to consider donating financial aid. Some people really need it to survive these tough times.

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John Rake

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