A New Course to Set

How to lead your team in times of crisis.

We are in the midst of not only an unprecedented event but a major economic shift. When the COVID-19 pandemic dust settles and we assess the landscape around us, changes will inevitably have to be made. We will have to shift in accordance to new protocols, regulations, and an unknown economic environment. While that seems daunting, now more than ever we need leaders to step up and guide. Now is not the time to falter and back down, but rather clear our minds and step forward in the midst of chaos. 

As a decorated apparel business owner, plant manager, or team lead, what can you do now? 

1.    Clear your mind and stay mentally healthy. While the current situation may make you want to drown your sorrows, you’re going to need a clearer and stronger mind than ever before, and it needs to be free of any outside influences. Establish routines for yourself, even if there seems to be nothing to do. Take at least 10 minutes at the beginning of each day and do something for your wellness. Find a meditation or yoga video on YouTube, go for a jog or bike ride, or play an instrument. Whatever your outlet, make the time to do it. The benefits of doing so, even in very minimal intervals, have been proven over and over. During this tumultuous time you need to remain calm and focused. You must lead by example. People follow what they see. Without your mental health and clarity being fully engaged, how can you begin to orchestrate your company and employees?

2.    Gather your team via Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime. Open the table for discussion, concerns, and, most importantly, ideas. What can be changed? What isn’t a necessity right now? What do our current customers need? As you’re leading this discussion, remain calm, ensure a plan is in place, and tell them you’ll be fighting for their jobs, even if lay-offs do occur. They need you to be a stable force. This doesn’t mean you need to know all the answers, but rather you’re going to exhaust all resources to find them. 

3.    Contact those in your local decorator community. Get in touch with the other shops in your area and learn what their strengths are. Perhaps you can at least continue with part-time hours and subcontract projects that would be too costly in-house at this time. Discuss what local small business resources they may know of, as well as any special opportunities. Reach out to your local and regional suppliers, even if you aren’t a current customer. Find out what they have on hand and make sure you have a basic familiarity with those products. That way, if national shipping gets halted or your normal supplier is under a local shutdown, you can still keep producing. 

More than ever before, our leadership is going to be tested. This is not a time to whither, but instead come together within our communities and our industry. Some of our esteemed industry veterans have produced some great free content on what do for sales and finances. Use these resources liberally. Remember, we are all in this together. Those who push through will be stronger. A new course to set starts now.