I keep hearing people say, “I can’t wait until things go back to normal”. As leaders, why do we want to go back to the way things were?

I keep hearing people say, “I can’t wait until things go back to normal”. Why do we want to go back to the way things were? Was the business running optimally? If not, then let’s take this unprecedented opportunity to build “better normal” in the future. When else in business will you have time to work ON the business in such a dedicated way.

We are far enough into this altered state of reality that you’ve moved through the frustration, anger, and depression over the situation. If you are like most of my clients, you are running somewhere between 10-50% capacity and still have many of your employees on payroll. I’m going to take you through a process so you can capitalize on the silver lining of these uncertain times.

And if you aren’t sure there is a silver lining, let me share with you a situation when I didn’t actually have time to work on the business, but was forced to anyway. Most of my career was spent in leadership positions in healthcare operations. Before I started my consulting company, I took on the role of operations administration for a group of urgent care practices. It was a mess, there had been 70% turnover, complaints from patients came in daily and the clinics were incredibly inefficient. This experience became the proving grounds for the people first strategy I help my clients build in their organizations.

While it was the people’s first strategy that started to turn the business around, we still had many operational issues. We made a very conscious and fiscally painful decision to pull 10 people out of clinical care for 3 days so that we could redesign several of our key processes and workflows. Despite having to close a location for 3 days, the payoff was huge. We were able to make redesign our work in a way that yielded such efficiencies that it changed our business forever.

That is the silver lining of these uncertain times. You don’t have to close a location or pull people from their regular work in order to work on the business. You do have to decide that now is the time to focus on what you can control. Now is the time to redesign suboptimal workflows. Now is the time to build the programs you hoped to someday have time to build.

Before you can capitalize on the silver lining, remember that this isn’t the first challenging time you’ve had in your business. Take a few minutes to list 5 other scary or challenging times that you have been through. Then next to each of those times, write down the lessons you learned. This allows you to reframe your thinking and focus on the lessons, the opportunities, and the successes you’ve already had.

Exercise # 1:

You’ve always had ideas for new programs or product offerings.  How many times have you said, “when we have time, I’d love to do _________”?  Well, now is the time.  Write down the top 5 ideas you’ve never had time to work on.  Then pick one, yes only one, and get the ball rolling.  Involve other team members to flesh out the idea. Determine the vision, the goals, and milestones for success.

 Exercise # 2:

Think about what employees or customers complain about.  Think about what your complaints and frustrations are.  These complaints reveal what is not working in your organization.  They are the cracks in the foundation you haven’t had time to fix.  Don’t limit yourself to thinking about workflows.  Consider whether your leadership team has the soft skills they need to lead.  Consider whether your onboarding program actually is successful in building alignment and inspiration.   My clients are using this time to move forward with our leadership development workshops or take the team through my growth curve program.

Exercise # 3:

Determine areas where you need to pivot.  With my healthcare clients, many are using telehealth for the first time.  How does this become part of their long-term care strategy?  Explore the different ways your employees are working and how your customers are interacting with your products.  Understanding how and where to pivot is the third opportunity to build a stronger company for the future.  


These exercises will start you on the path to envisioning a better normal.  The final step you must take is to create the vision and structure of the 1st 100 days of the new normal.  In order for your team to follow, they have to understand where you are going and how you are going to get there.  The clearer you can be in the vision and the milestones to success, the better and stronger your company will be at living a better normal. 

Amy Lafko

Amy is a certified Stages of Growth Strategist, TTI Success Insights DISC Certified and 12 Driving Forces® Certified. And the founder of Cairn Consulting Solutions. Her specialty is optimizing organizational excellence through employee experience, leadership, and team development.
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