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If businesses are to thrive, managers must plan ahead in 2021

Crystal Clay, left and Latisha Lister-Burgess (Photograph supplied)

Last year was so uncertain, many business managers put off strategic planning, preferring to wait and see what the future held.

But Employee Assistance Programme executive director, Latisha Lister-Burgess says that approach won’t cut it in 2021.

“I think 2020 was about surviving, but for businesses that are going to make it, 2021 has to be about thriving,” Ms Lister-Burgess said.

She said even if everyone got the Covid-19 vaccine tomorrow, we probably won’t be returning to our pre-pandemic way of working.

“As a manager or chief executive officer, you have to ask, even if everything works out and we can all go back to the office, is my industry going to have to change? Will my business have to change? Will my practice model have to change? With all of those things we have to now say I have to be strategic in what I am doing.”

To help business leaders chart their course, EAP’s first management class of the year will be Creating a Strategic Vision.

The one-hour course kicks off online tomorrow, and will be led by business coach Crystal Clay of Olive Branch Consulting.

“Creating a compelling vision to inspire and motivate others is the key to a successful team,” Dr Clay said. “This webinar will provide leaders with tools to build the strategies needed to support the team vision.

“Even though you may have to adapt to circumstances, if you have a clear vision about where you want to go, your ’why’ remains the same. The way to get there and methodology might change, but the act of vision stays the same.”

Dr Clay said part of strategic planning should involve factoring in the unpredictability.

"The key is to make sure that you and your team have the agility and ability to adapt to whatever changes happen,“ she said. “We might have to use technology a little bit differently. But clarity builds confidence. That is so key at any time, but particularly in times of change.”

Ms Lister-Burgess said that many employees work hard, but have no idea what their company’s priorities are for the year.

She said keeping the lines of communication open when employees work from home, can be challenging. In an office environment, ideas and allegiances flourish around the water cooler. How do you replicate this in a remote working environment? How does an employer know that his employees are at home working and not goofing off?

“If you want your employees to stay connected, you have to build that into the vision,” Ms Lister-Burgess said. “It has to be deliberate. We don’t have a shared kitchen to talk in any more, but if you want to know what everyone is thinking, then let’s put an online shared meeting into the schedule so that everyone is on-board.

“A lot of companies are not being deliberate in that. There is still this mindset that we will all get back together, eventually. The question is, until you do, how are you keeping that sense of connection?”

And like any other business, EAP has also had to pivot to cope with the changing times. This year, they revamped their entire roster of management classes. All courses are now virtual, and are tailored to the current times.

“We sent out a survey in December asking what people wanted to learn,” Ms Lister-Burgess said. “Many of the courses being offered this year are completely brand new. There are probably only three courses that we did before.”

So far, EAP has had a great response to their new list of courses.

“We had a company that called and booked over ten of their managers,” Ms Lister-Burgess said. “If you want the team to get aboard, then everyone has to be hearing and understanding the same message.”

Other management courses this year include: Unconscious Bias in the Workplace, The Self Aware Manager, Incivility in the Workplace: for Managers, Incivility in the Workplace: for Employees, Navigating Change, and Inclusive Leadership and Workplace Mental Health: A Manager’s Guide.

Creating a Strategic Vision will be held tomorrow from 12 to 1pm and will cost $150.

To sign up e-mail accounts@eap.bm or call 292-9000.

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Published January 25, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated January 24, 2021 at 1:43 pm)

If businesses are to thrive, managers must plan ahead in 2021

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