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  • Writer's pictureBruce Langevin

2021: The World Has Changed-- and so Have the Skills We Need for Success

Updated: Jan 24, 2021

As we turn the page to a new calendar year, many of the challenges we faced in 2020 are still dragging along with us. While the phrase “new normal” is often thrown around in excess, it does have validity--especially as it relates to the way we work and how we do business. The majority of companies were forced to shift to remote working environments almost overnight, and on top of that, organizations had to shift sales and marketing efforts to virtual outreach.

While these dramatic pivots aren’t without their challenges, we’ve learned a lot along the way about what it takes to succeed in our new normal.

Communication has never been more important

Although remote work has been around for a while, many of the employees who were thrust into virtual environments in 2020 were new to the concept. Even those who weren’t, found themselves in unfamiliar territory, trying to communicate and collaborate with a team that was 100% virtual, while balancing the added stress of homeschooling, a lack of daycare, and stress over current events.

“It has never been more critical to communicate effectively with our teams than it is now.”

If you manage remote employees, make time to communicate over video calls with them to address their concerns, share company updates, and instill the confidence that comes with transparent leadership. Check in frequently to see how your employees are coping and that they are maintaining a reasonable work-life balance.

Your team and company cultures don’t have to suffer just because you aren’t currently face to face with your employees. Create an open door for communication and listen objectively to your team.

The same old sales and marketing doesn’t cut it anymore

2020 was rife with email fatigue, travel restrictions, limited budgets, and job cuts for industries of all sizes. It’s no small feat for marketers and sales professionals to cut through the stress and noise to engage with prospects and draw then into the buying process.

Post-2020, organizations need to find new ways to earn trust and larger share in increasingly guarded markets. As a first step, look after your current customers. They are your most valuable resource and often, the key to unlocking new business. Check in with them to see how they are coping in the current climate and how your products and services are helping them (or not--and if so, how you can fix it).

As you understand the new challenges they face, your customers can help you better understand how you should communicate with and sell to prospects so that your message resonates in this new landscape.

It’s critical to reimagine your organization from the ground up

While part of your workforce might remain virtual for the foreseeable future, some of your employees may return to the office this year. You can’t prepare too soon in advance for their arrival. Survey your teams to better understand what will make them feel safe enough to return in person. Create new safety and security policies based on that information and the guidance of health professionals. Send your new policies to your workforce to assure them of the steps you are taking to ensure their comfort and safety in the office. Again, you can’t over-communicate when it comes to reassuring your employees that they are your top priority.

Secondly, now is the time to make adjustments to organizational structure, financial plans, and strategic objectives. Look at this time of change as an opportunity to course-correct missteps in your business and build an even more successful and efficient organization that will thrive in spite of the current climate.

“Again, communicate changes with as much transparency as possible to your broader organization so that every employee feels included, informed, and invested in the future success of the company. Don’t just tell them what you are doing--tell them why. ”

While no one can fully predict what 2021 may hold, the events of 2020 have taught us some valuable lessons on what skills it takes to succeed in this new business world. Aim for consistent, thoughtful communication with your customers and your teams and remain agile in how you market, sell, and sustain your products and services.

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