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Companies must embrace these 3 keys to resilience

By ROBIN FISHER, area vice president, Salesforce – Emerging Markets.

In 2021, many companies’ capacity to recover and grow amid unfavourable circumstances will continue to determine their success. Leading with a transformative mindset, and instilling resilience in our business models and teams will be critical in future-proofing our companies, careers, and shared success. Based on learnings from Salesforce’s Leading Through Change series in 2020,  three key pieces of advice are worth highlighting.

Embrace transparency and empathy

The shift to remote working taught us the power of communicating both upwards and downwards. Consistency in sharing readily accessible information, including what decisions are being made and why, has been crucial in providing reassurance to employees during the pandemic. This radical transparency and focus on trust will only take on more importance as teams become more distributed.

Working arrangements will continue to change, and we need to cultivate a culture that supports employees if we are to build more resilient teams. Empathic leadership is about more than reading a room; it’s asking teammates how they are feeling, encouraging them to ask for help — and not being afraid to have tough conversations when needed.

Refining support through regular surveys can boost morale and productivity, inform business plans and reduce short-term risks. Keeping your workforce safe and easing levels of stress doesn’t just benefit employees — it also better positions companies to take care of their customers.

Anything and everything can go digital

Companies must continue to consider how anything and everything can go digital — and how to move fast. Take retailers, for instance.  Within days of the pandemic emerging, the industry managed to build queue management apps which helped customers enter stores safely. More coffee shops and restaurants have set up credit card payment management solutions, enabling customers to prepay for their orders before arriving at venues. Others have launched entirely new services, such as delivery and cook-it-yourself meal kits. Listening to customers — and recognising that their behaviours and expectations will always evolve — will help define companies’ digital resilience strategies.

Technology is transforming how businesses engage with their customers at any time and from anywhere. Resilience can be found in making customer journeys more connected, by personalising products and services, and embedding innovation into operational models. We’ve seen how artificial intelligence (AI) inventions such as chatbots have helped businesses to survive, recover and scale in times of crisis. Assessing performance issues and identifying risks has driven smarter decisions, which has allowed companies and customers alike to avoid hardships. Leveraging data insights, boosting collaboration across multiple functions and real time decision making must be top of mind for business leaders as they navigate change.

Digital transformation empowers existing employees to focus their efforts where they will have the most impact on the customer experience — leading to improved sales, customer retention and satisfaction.

Provide skilling opportunities to succeed

Technological developments and customer demands will together shape the jobs of the future, and hence the skills that teams need to succeed. As the digital economy continues to evolve, businesses don’t just have a responsibility to provide employees with opportunities to retrain and transition their career paths, it’s increasingly within their own best business interest to do so.

Prioritising continual learning, inclusivity, and a diverse workforce are the cornerstones of building a more resilient workforce. Digital transformation empowers existing employees to focus their efforts where they will have the most impact on the customer experience — leading to improved sales, customer retention and satisfaction.

We cannot predict what the future holds but it is clear that the Covid-19 pandemic won’t be the last crisis we will face. Companies can look to the future with more confidence if they have leadership and technology that embed resilience throughout their operations, services and teams. Customer-centricity and positive employee experiences will show us what it means for companies to be resilient. By equipping employees with the training and skills they need, we can embrace change rather than fear it.

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