Reposted with permission from Rex Miller,

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If you are like most business leaders, you’ve spent a lot of brain time on the coronavirus wondering what to do to protect your people and business.

The coronavirus crisis is best summarized by the World Health Organization Director-General who said, “We’re not just fighting an epidemic; we’re fighting an infodemic.”

This raises two central problems:

  1. Too many people are relying on the media for information; and
  2. Too few organizations are actively informing and preparing their employees.

This article is designed to give leaders the information they need about the impact of the coronavirus to provide a steady hand with 5 smart steps to protect your people and business.

Step One | Provide solid information

The more I examine the data about the coronavirus and the more epidemiological studies I read, the more I am appalled, at the shallow and inexcusable reporting out of all of the national media.

This misinformation has to be factored into your strategy as a leader.

Joseph Myers, an expert on how trust and distrust work in the brain, shares, “Distrust is centered in the amygdala. It is instinctive and immediate. This is our inner guard dog at work. Trust is a rational decision centered in the prefrontal cortex. Trust is built by providing consistent, verifiable, logical and credible evidence. Distrust is triggered when a leader makes a bold claim or promise with no evidence to support it. Building trust begins by providing the most reliable information possible.”

Good data and common-sense help to bring a sense of understanding and personal control to your employees.

The two most reliable sources are: the World Health Organization and the CDC.

Step Two | Humanize your response

Don’t try to be a hero, be human.

Minimizing the threat of the coronavirus (regardless of what you think of the risks) will have the opposite effect and increase fear and distrust.

Express your commitment and concern in practical but important ways:

  1. Provide hand sanitizer in common areas and bathrooms.
  2. Increase facility cleaning and let people know what you are doing and why.
  3. Allow remote work for jobs where it makes sense.
  4. Provide a daily update that is ready when employees arrive for work. The message should include:
    • What you know or have learned.
    • What you are doing.
    • What employees can do.
    • Great ideas from employees.
    • Share how this is affecting business and daily routines.
    • If someone has a concern of any kind who can they go to?
  5. The virus is a serious health concern. Coronavirus can be life-threatening to young children, people with existing health challenges, and the elderly. Make accommodations and support those who are more vulnerable.

Step Three | Encourage health and resilience to resist being a host for the coronavirus

Wellness educator, Rachel Druckenmiller, says, “A virus needs a willing host.” There are many preventative steps every employee can take to improve their health and resilience, so it is worth communicating:

  • Improve sleep.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Boost the immune system with supplements like vitamin D3 (This takes time to build up).
  • Limit alcohol.
  • Be aware and manage stress.
  • Sugar in all sources (carbohydrates) impedes the immune system.
  • Improve gut health with probiotic-rich food to add good bacteria.

Make it clear that if someone has a temperature or shows other symptoms, not to come in!

Allow hourly workers who have to either choose to lose a paycheck or come in sick to stay home with pay. (If not, you will have workers hiding symptoms because paying rent depends on it.)

Experts believe that Coronavirus is transmitted primarily through droplets; sneezing and coughing. It is a 6-foot zone of concern. It can also live on surfaces for a few hours up to several days depending on the kind of body fluid is attached to. The solution is simple. Wash your hands, wipe down common surfaces and limit physical contact.

Masks essentially do not work to protect you from getting the virus. Even if you buy an N95 rated mask they still need to be fitted properly. If you have the virus a standard mask does work to prevent you from passing it to someone else.

Experts express limited concern about the virus spreading airborne. That means planes and other well filtered enclosed environments are viewed as a limited threat. Planes do, however, create close contact over a prolonged period. The 6-foot zone and public surface rules apply.

Step four | Understand the business implications & think like a futurist.

Most major companies have implemented a moratorium or restriction on travel.

The financial markets and business disruption are the next immediate concern. Estimates of impact on the global economy range between $2 – $3 trillion.

While, we are seeing the dramatic effect on travel, events, vacation destinations, and hospitality industries, we have yet to see the full ripple effect to supply chain disruption.

Economists are projecting there that GDP growth will fall under 1% in 2020 compared to 2.3% in 2019.

Markets historically bounce back quickly after a health crisis, but we don’t know the chain reaction of events to actions taken during the coronavirus. It is seldom the event itself that creates damage, but short-term actions taken out of fear.

Every company should run scenarios to look at the effects of one or more key markets being shut down.

  • What happens if revenue drops of 10 – 30%?
  • In each scenario which employees will be affected the most? How can you minimize or spread the burden? Who are your most vulnerable employees?
  • When should you begin to make adjustments to headcount?
  • What contingency plans have you made?
  • Unless you simulate a variety of possible scenarios you will react too late. Reactive decisions are never strategic nor rational. Your short-term decisions will have long term consequences.

Futurists help leaders see the potential unintended consequences of decisions made under stress. For example, I was notified by a regional conference they were pushing back their May event to September. I asked if they were aware that September and October are the two busiest months for larger national events that will likely compete for the same audience. As of today five states have closed schools. In many urban and rural school districts, more than 70% of these children rely on school for a hot meal. Many parents will not have the means to provide care or take off of work.

Step Five | Take advantage of unexpected opportunities

Take this opportunity to examine the value or ROI of travel and events your employees have been taking in the past. For many of our clients’ travel has received low scrutiny because of how strong the economy has been and the demands of keeping up.

Some industries will shift focus which will be a boon to new markets. The film industry, for example, is greatly impacted by travel and the conditions of foreign locations. Many films are coming back to the U.S. They also want to stay away from big cities to shift to “safe cities.”

Strategic Facilitator, Michael Lagocki, has facilitated client workshops asking, “What can we do under these conditions you could not do otherwise?”

Develop more capacity and better skills in virtual work.

Spend any downtime in training, coaching or planning. Many of our clients have been running hard for several years and have not had the opportunity to improve manager or leadership skills.

Protecting your business and your people from the impact of coronavirus begins with you as a leader.

The actions you take (or fail to take) with the coronavirus crisis have a real impact on the future of your business.

Don’t underestimate how your choices affect the future of your team. You can build the kind of allegiance and loyalty that will serve you well in the midst of business difficulties or market crash, or you can take confusing actions that create distrust.

Our consultant’s Guild has been working on recession planning for almost a year. We offer valuable experience and expertise to help your firm rapidly assess, adjust and adapt to get through this downturn with minimal pain and ready for significant gain.

We also offer one-on-one coaching for leaders. It is an excellent opportunity to sharpen your game process on how to navigate these uncertain times.

One thing is for sure, Coronavirus won’t be the last unusual thing to hit your business. It is up to you to become the kind of leader who can navigate things there are no templates for. Train for the inevitable.

We would love to get your reactions and hear how the coronavirus is effecting your company and how you are adapting. Send any comments or questions to