The pandemic shock on business management

It is so challenging to navigate the business world today.  Chief Executive Officers are facing unprecedented challenges to keep their businesses afloat.  They report back to their board directors who find it difficult to understand why management has not been agile enough and fast enough to react to the challenging situation. What many businesses are facing today is a reflection of lack of preparation and planning during the “normal” times for serious shocks,  and an underlying thinking that all is déjà vu and that things will settle back in a short while to the pre- pandemic life.  We are now several months into the pandemic, and we know that it is not so, and it will not be so.

A pandemic is like a third world war with a long period of human, social and economic devastation, and a recovery which comes slowly but which demands a new wave of imagination, innovation, courage and hard work to reconstruct.

A Chief Executive Officer has never felt so lonely. They have no answers to the many issues arising on a daily basis and more so when you cannot have a proper forecast as the vision of the future is blurred.  Their immediate team of key persons in finance, operations, marketing and logistics are feeling the same… lost, as the parameters have changed, and the comfort zones of their business models have been shattered.

Teamwork at all levels, but especially at senior management level is crucial. But as important is the relationship between the Chief Executive Officer and the board of directors. This cannot be strained – it has to be open, straight forward and sincere.

A few principles come in handy – retain a positive and constructive attitude – life is so, with its ups and down, sometimes steeper than expected;  be disciplined about the business and its survival, manage cost and think outside the box; read the trends and the signs of the time – business models will be changing, sometimes radically; be frank and open in your communication. Communication builds trust and mitigates against fear and anxiety.

Business will survive as the economy picks up again and so will industry. We can get it right through perseverance, patience and prudence.

About the author(s)

Joseph F.X. Zahra is a Malta based economist with over thirty five years of corporate leadership and business consultancy experience.