Stanislav Sabanov, СVO at D-Tech, Tbilisi

Today, almost all the business sectors are going through hard times. Some give up and ‘curtail’; the others are determined to transform and fight.

Not every business can be brought online or temporarily reoriented. But, even with such an opportunity, it’s easy to get scared by a new reality. As a consequence — a CEO decides to put the business on hold. It’s not only clients and workers becoming unemployed who suffer. First of all, the head of a company suffers. Only looking back, he will realize he has missed an unprecedented opportunity to fine-tune his crisis leadership skills, flexible strategies plus, more than ever, rally the team.

I believe that disbanding the team while in quarantine is the worst managerial decision. Yes, it won’t be easy, but after overcoming these difficulties, you will get something bigger. And, if you decide to transform the business, I will tell you what needs to be paid special attention to. I’m sure that these tips will be relevant not only to the IT sphere.

Preface

Since the founding of D-Tech, 80% of our business processes have been run remotely, and after the introduction of the self-isolation regime, this figure nears 100%. We have 28 full-time employees, with a third of them not having previous remote work experience. Being real professionals, these ‘newly-made remote workers’, nevertheless, needed extra coaching. Moreover, they had to learn remote networking and urgently pull up their time management skills.

Then, we have developed a set of measures for the employees to transfer to another way of working that was new to them. I will specifically talk about the control mechanisms because control comes to the fore in the quarantine conditions. Getting ahead of myself, I would say that we managed to stay within the limits of reasonable tracking, having, at the same time, maintained relationships of trust with everyone.

  1. Control of efforts
  • Time of being present in the workplace

When assigning tasks and setting deadlines, forget the ‘take-at-word’ principle. Just a pragmatic evaluation of the efforts made vs. the results achieved. To assist the manager, there is time-tracking software in place; in our case, it’s Kickidler. If you only care about the hours of work without being able

to watch the employee’s screen, I would recommend Timely or TopTracker (the latter is free, by the way). For the lack of anything better, use the commonly known Google Spreadsheets extended with the IFTTT applet.

  • Number and duration of VoIP telephone calls

This item is relevant to all the types of businesses that continue fighting for every new customer. By monitoring the number and duration of calls, you will be able to control the sales process, work out the personnel workload and, if necessary, redistribute the load.

  • Number of requests processed through CRM

Several times a day, do control checks of the number of requests received and processed. No time to wait! If the lead generator does not manage to call and take orders — involve all underloaded employees in calling. Not enough requests? Analyze what has to be changed in the promotion. With no success? Maybe, it’s worthwhile adapting the product or expanding the product line.

  1. Control of production processes
  • Listening to calls and monitoring the correspondence with clients

Year after year, you build your reputation. Don’t let the quarantine shatter it! If there are many requests, try not to divide customers into loyal/irregular or hot/cold ones. Attention should be paid to everyone. Again, if there are not enough operators or support agents — have employees from other departments to operate the phone line/chat. Introduce them to the scripts and monitor their correspondence/calls. In so doing, don’t give them an easy time with regard to the fact that they are unqualified workers.

  • Control of compliance with internal regulations

In the crisis period, it will no longer be possible to work ‘at an amble’. Indeed, every employee will have to make decisions quickly but not to the detriment of his/her contribution to the project. A designer working overtime may skip a status meeting but must make edits not later than 10 a.m. If a project manager helps a marketing manager with the mailing, he does it after performing his basic job duties. Otherwise, the production process chain will weaken or break altogether.

  1. Control of results
  • Tracking of each employee’s KPIs

Every day, the employees must send progress reports to the manager. The report should show how much product has been produced by an individual employee to achieve the company objective measured in percentages, indexes, or other established units. Ideally, each team member should enter his/her data into the integrated results framework on his/her own. In this way, they can see the results achieved by colleagues, and their motivation increases further.

  • Monitoring of the key business process indicators

We are talking here about intermediate monitoring of the main indicators. At least 2 times a day, open your project visualization tool (a table, a Gantt chart, a Kanban board) and review progress against the project plan. If you notice that for several days in a row, it lags behind on the indicators — analyze where the gap is and eliminate it.

  • Quality of the team results

At the moment, you have to work fast but without sacrificing quality. Even in critical situations, demand full dedication. Don’t accept unfinished work or a ‘half-done’ product.

Remember, every difficulty you get over with your team will unite you even more. Yes, there will be losses, but the people who stay by your side will provide real support for the future rises. With them, no crisis will scare you!