Leading through a Pandemic

Leading through a Pandemic: Challenging Convention

Back in early April 2020, the constant Covid-19 pandemic news cycle, breaking news bulletins, and an unprecedented number of ‘pings’ from various devices gripped me in a state of fear.

The state I found myself in was not familiar to me. I was in panic mode. The threat of overnight health and economic catastrophe. What would this mean for the Plan B Group and its 70 plus staff? Their families? My own family? Our health?

I had to refocus my energy to try and stop the flow of doubt and uncertainty creeping in.  I remember working from my home office on a Sunday evening and realising that despite the fact we were in the midst of a global pandemic with unpredictable and uncertain outcomes, the Plan B leadership team had the skills to help the business adapt.

Over the past four years, the Plan B Group has been working with Leading Teams Chairman and ex-St Kilda Football Club player Justin Peckett, exploring a complex suite of leadership skills that aim to harness the unique skills of each and every staff member.

To say that this work has transformed our business is an understatement, and it prepared us for our response in a way I could not have imagined.  Our leadership team were able to respond quickly via the implementation of an Incident Response Team who were tasked with making a lot of the vital daily decisions, making daily video communication updates to teams, and developing IT solutions that enabled our entire team to work from home ahead of the mandatory announcement from the State Government. This not only helped make our staff feel safe, but meant our productivity and service delivery to our valued clients didn’t miss a beat.

“I heard someone say, ‘that was lucky’ in response to our leadership decisions during the Pandemic, but luck had nothing to do with it.” – Pete Brenchley, MD Plan B Group.

Once we had our daily operational issues under control, it was crucial to focus our attention on how best to proactively plan and lead the company, amidst all the uncertainty, into the next six to twelve months and beyond.

Challenging Convention.

I went on a deep dive into what our staff needed from us and what we needed from them to not only survive the pandemic, but come out stronger. With the mirror on myself, initially I came up with more questions than answers — What is my leadership style? What needs to be the most influential part of my style during this crisis? I felt a pull to challenge the conventional approach.

Underpinning our company values and how we are guided to make key strategic decisions is the genuine and caring people that make up the Plan B Group. While the news was littered with stories of retrenchments and staff cutbacks, this just wasn’t an option for us, at Plan B it is our people that make all the difference and we couldn’t afford to lose a single member of staff.

In order to inspire and empower the team while spirits had been knocked around by the rolling news cycle, I wanted to make sure that each and every staff member felt that they were not only informed of each of the decisions that were being made to ensure the survival of the company during this pandemic, but that they were actively involved in helping to make them.

We had identified that there were some shortcomings in the way we had communicated in the past and that we owed our staff complete transparency when it comes to issues that could have a direct impact on all of us.

Plan B Group, Reimagined.

The first part of this step has been the development of a company manuscript we put together entitled Plan B Group — Reimagined.  A collective effort of over twenty staff who were able to identify future-proof business strategies by focusing on; Our Purpose, Our Message, Our Clients, Our Energy, Our Culture and Our Finances.

At Plan B, it’s our dedication to understanding the objectives that underpin our client’s project goals that allows us to deliver an unmatched quality of service. In these times of ongoing uncertainty, it is even more crucial to get a grasp of our clients’ needs, what is keeping them up at night and how we can help them remove some of their electrical and communication challenges. A key part of the Plan B Group, Reimagined strategy has been to establish Client Relationship Teams to review each of our relationships and develop tailor-made strategies for each individual client by harnessing new research and industry support channels.

What we have produced is far and above anything we could have originally hoped for when we embarked on this task, and I have no doubt it will have a lasting impression on many of us.

The old rule books simply don’t work anymore and now more than ever we have to be nimble, and be able to empower our staff to adapt to change and collectively identify new opportunities. I and the Plan B Group Executive team would love to get a conversation started with other business leaders about how they have adapted and challenged the conventional during this crisis.

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