Eagle Talk

Preparing for the Unexpected

Dear Friends,

Happy Holidays to all of our Eagle Talk Readers!

I believe you will find the insights of this month’s guest contributor very valuable in light of our ever-changing business and leadership environment. I have known Debbie Fliehman for a number of years since first meeting at Baxter Healthcare.

— Bob

Debbie Fliehman
Deborah G. Fliehman

Debbie Fliehman is an accomplished business professional with experiential wisdom in marketing, communications, advertising, and sales promotion, producing profitable results working with corporations, identifying marketing and communication improvement opportunities. Her cross-functional business acumen and advanced communication skills cultivate results-producing customer, employee, supplier relationships. With an extensive background developing and implementing comprehensive multi-media marketing and communications campaigns, national press releases, and digital, print and social media marketing materials, she works with executives and managers to elevate their teams’ sophistication levels and performance quality. Debbie’s experience includes working with hundreds of clients in over twenty industries, and on all levels within an organization to ensure effective development of training and education programs, presentations and workshops, content, strategy, websites development, and trade show exhibition.

When businesses face unprecedented challenges, the need for change becomes evident. Incorporating contingency planning into business processes keeps organizations forward-thinking, well-rounded, and able to turn on a dime. Negative impacts cannot always be avoided by forecasting the next economic upswing, for example, but this information can help to minimize risk. Identifying strategies and techniques for formulating responses helps to anticipate what will happen when something unexpected occurs. It’s critical to outlive the challenging times and evade staggering strikes to our businesses. Developing responses to scenarios helps to prioritize and plan.

A commitment to contingency planning and response analysis involves laying the groundwork to strengthen the organization and make it lean and productive. Embedded within business processes are ongoing activities that include competitive intelligence, customer engagement, employee communication, shareholder expectations, market and environmental requirements, and social, political, and economic awareness. Consider reputation when assessing impacts the business will have on the community, workers and families, supply and demand, the industry, and the ability to thrive and prosper.

Once these contingency plans have been developed, analyzing the impact of responses includes identifying improvement opportunities, making organizational adjustments, reallocating resources, prioritizing merger and acquisition activities, and increasing quality, service, and products, elevating performance and improving productivity. Focus on earnings instead of revenue, and favorable results will emerge. An algorithm for organizational readiness, cost management, and growth through product and service offerings keeps an organization on target. Pliability requires ongoing research, communication, scenario development, and response analysis.

With the new reality of remote working environments, virtual meetings with employees and customers demand mastery of technology and communication finesse. Toss into the mix of employees working on-site and those working remotely, and the result is a set of unique communication requirements. Leadership needs to re-assess their style and further develop their workforce in effective and efficient conversation, collaboration, honoring and valuing others’ expertise, receiving feedback, listening to and hearing the ideas of others, and enabling accountability and ownership of individual and team performance.

Thoughtful and well documented emergency execution plans for a financial crisis, a pandemic, or a natural disaster buffers the jolt on an organization, recalibrates its functionality, and stabilizes its profitability. The goal is to reduce disruptions when the unexpected threatens the integrity of the business. The ultimate success depends on its ability to harness talent, develop relationships between and among teams, and respect the time needed to achieve performance excellence. Attention needs to be given to recognizing and motivating each employee’s flexibility and contributions as an integral team member.

The conclusive objective of a business to thrive and prosper amid a changing environment is to maintain employee focus on the job at hand, inspire creativity, and continuously improve output quality. Alleviating misused and misspent time provides employees with the freedom to identify with, nurture, and sustain the business’s heartbeat. During a sheltering in time, many employees will spend more time on their jobs because of time gained from commuting and working in a home environment, albeit a frequently conflicting one, producing a frustrated and exhausted employee. Incorporating new technologies and acknowledging what the new workplace looks like improves and facilitates employee engagement.

Developing scenarios and analyzing results remove the knee-jerk reaction to an emergency by restructuring an organization. With proper planning, it will already know how to respond. Internal and external communication practices will be in place ensuring stellar collaboration and efficiencies that will elevate productivity. All of this is necessary for a business adaptation to occur. Instilling process improvements requires hiring the best talent and developing all talent to anticipate and respond to the need for change. An unexpected occurrence is not a time for complacency in a business, nor is it a time to ignore, neglect, and postpone solid and quality employee and customer communication.

Succeeding, thriving, and prospering amid change is possible. Inciting a climate where differentiation and distinction are the business model spurs action. When a business becomes more significant than its physical surroundings, its identity and brand are surrounded by the humans who live and breathe the company’s spirit. Activities align with the mission, vision, and values. Employees can ensure reliable and necessary products and services that improve customers’ quality of life and their communities. This enormous task cannot be achieved solely by the leadership, but through the leadership’s ability to unleash all that’s possible.

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