The 24-hour news cycle has evolved beyond the television screen, and nothing makes you more aware of this than a global pandemic. We are constantly inundated with information and developments about COVID-19 from the news, our friends and our social media feeds. While the whirlwind of communication is often chaotic and confusing, there is one fact that has become clear: Life as we know it has dramatically changed.

Relationships with friends and relatives are maintained virtually. Trips to the store are less frequent. Afternoons at a playground with your kids have become just a dream. Commutes to the office don’t exist for many people.

As these changes have created a new normal that many of us are still getting used to, how businesses should proceed with employees and clients is still uncertain. There are many unanswered questions for B2B and B2C companies.

  • What’s happening with work?
  • How do we stay relevant to our clients?
  • Will I have a job?
  • Will our clients stay in business?
  • How will we overcome this battle?

Regardless of your industry, how your company addresses these concerns will determine how your employees and clients view your leadership moving forward.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

If you are a leader in your organization, be visible, proactive, and ready to inform and answer questions as they arise. One of the most important things you can do during this time is to simply be present. Send weekly email updates. Utilize video calls and phone calls with your staff. Be intentional in your communication. Reinforce your culture both internally and externally. If your employees and clients feel they aren’t being ignored and that their wellbeing is important to you, that will help foster stronger relationships moving forward.

Don’t Be Afraid to be Vulnerable

This situation is a challenge unlike any we have faced before. Our world is constantly adjusting each week and companies have to try things that they have never done before. This uncertainty can seem scary, but that’s okay. Continue to be open and honest because honesty lends itself to trust. Admit mistakes you make and share what you are learning from those mistakes. Think through what you are saying ahead of time, know your audience and anticipate feedback.

Have a Plan

If you’re unsure what your next steps are, talk to others in your industry and in your network. See how they’re getting through it and how you can get through it together. Reach out to clients to see what they need, then come back and work to make those adjustments. Ask questions like:

  • What can we do to help our situation now?
  • How can we connect?
  • Where do you see your company headed and how can we help you get there?

Within your organization, create a mini board of directors to anticipate and plan for the future. This will allow perspectives from all angles, so you have the best chance of success on the other side. What you focus on now may not be what you focused on last year at this time, and it may not be what you focus on a year from now. What you may find are new opportunities where you can transition in your industry.

Focus on People

This is not a time to do a hard sell. After all, companies are made of people. And as people, we are facing the same human battle.

It’s time to deepen your relationships and reach out to new connections. Be authentic and know what you stand for. When you take a step back and listen to what your employees and clients have to say, you might be surprised to hear what others have to say. Once you have collected everyone’s feedback, you can address problems and figure out solutions.

While no one is certain what the future holds, if we communicate honestly, lean on each other, give support where we can, and devise a plan that can be adjusted when needed, we will come out of this on the other side with stronger ties in our organizations and with our clients.