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Press The Pause Button, Now

Press the Pause Button, Now

The impact of COVID-19 on businesses of all sizes is substantial. It’s safe to say that no one is operating on May 1, 2020 the same way they were operating just four months ago. Some have closed-up shop, temporarily. Others are still operational but in a slightly or significant downsized capacity. And then there are those whose core products and services naturally meet a need during this health crisis. Presumably, they are busier than ever before. That said, even they are thinking about what a post COVID-19 marketplace looks like.

A few weeks ago, an insightful article was published by Gallup, a global analytics and advice firm that focuses on organization problem solving, emphasizing just how important it is to “remember the needs of followers during COVID-19.” It stated that humans experience life about 30 percent rationally and 70 percent emotionally, which tells us a lot about what people truly need from their leaders, in this moment. In fact, it inspired today’s blog post.

Regardless of where your business stands on the spectrum of COVID-19 impact, there is value in pressing the pause button, and the time to do it is now. Schedule a conference call or Zoom meeting with your entire team, or with a series of small groups or individuals, with the only agenda items being “how are we doing, as a company,” and “how are you doing, as a member of our team, that I genuinely care about?” In other words, what are we doing well and what do we need to do a little bit better? Leave your ego at the door because this is a real growth opportunity, for everyone.

Last week, I pursued this exercise myself. I am supporting a very large team of healthcare system marketing and communications executives as they work through countless operational issues related to COVID-19, and the continuation of patient care and services as the current crisis evolves. The team joins on conference calls daily, and we go around the horn, giving each person on the line a chance to report updates, pose questions and resource issues to the team. It’s efficient and useful, but I decided to press the pause button. Instead of focusing on our normal operational updates, we shifted gears, and instead focused on what we are doing, what is working, what is not, what we are “missing,” and how everyone on the line can better support one another. It was clear that the floor was open for a very open, transparent dialogue, and that everyone could feel safe being 100 percent honest. And the truth is, they were safe.

We heard a lot of good things. We heard some bad things. We learned a lot about each other and about the opportunities this team has to truly shine during this crisis. We clarified what to continue, status quo, and we also identified a handful of things to change, for the good of all. But most importantly, weaved into it all was a sense of mutual understanding, connection, and appreciation. There was an overall sense of “let’s keep going; we’ve got this!” It was powerful and uplifting. When the call ended, I was confident that hitting the pause button was in fact, an extremely valuable use of time. If embraced in the proper spirit and mindset, the mirror can be your most valuable resource.

I share this example because I think even the best leaders can get so caught up in the daily grind that they oversee the fact that what their people might need the most is a meaningful pause; a conversation that reminds them that the person at the helm truly cares about them and values their perspective, that they have support, and that they are not alone, no matter how long and hard each day feels.

No one knows for sure how long COVID-19 will be part of our lives. We are all looking forward to the day when we can get back to normalcy. But until that day comes, I believe that setting some time aside for a few healthy “pauses” will go a long way as your business manages the crisis, and then eventually transitions into recovery, then prosperity mode.

Go ahead. Press pause. You’ll be glad you did.

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