2020 has been a challenging year for everyone, businesses and individuals alike. What makes it so unusual is that the impact has been universal. Every nation around the world has been impacted by COVID-19 and the economic uncertainty that followed.

What has become clear is that companies need to be more agile and flexible than ever. You never know what challenges will come, and a business’s ability to pivot can mean the difference between success and failure.

How do you optimize your company’s ability to stay competitive in challenging situations? Here are some tips you can use.

Know Your Company’s Long-Term Vision

When you pivot, you’re finding a different way to achieve the same goal. However, if you aren’t clear on the business’s core goals, you won’t be able to be creative in difficult times.

When you know your company’s long-term vision and key aims, you can evaluate the need for change. Specific options can be weighed against how well they help your business move forward. When you decide on a new approach, you’ll have a clear “why” that you can communicate with your team. This helps improve buy-in and implementation.

Knowing your business’s long-term goals allows you to move beyond “the way things have always been done” and find better ways to achieve the same aims. Best of all, it opens you up to learn from others — for instance, you can find new ways to save money by looking at larger companies that have done the same thing. One of the biggest ways is by saving on employee turnover. How? By being transparent about things like your vision or a process pivot.

Knowing your core goals allows you to move forward successfully in any environment!

Involve Employees in the Change Process

One of the biggest mistakes a business makes when implementing change is overlooking its employees. Transparency in the change process helps employees feel like change is happening with them, rather than to them.

Not only does this help with buy-in and implementation, but you get better ideas when you involve the people who are on the ground doing the daily work. Having an employee team providing input and helping create the plan also gives you evangelists who can help communicate the new processes to their peers.

You’ll never lose when the entire team is involved in the pivot.

Be Aware That All Change Brings Loss

Managers frequently get frustrated that their best efforts to bring about change are sabotaged — often for reasons they don’t understand.

The truth is that all change, even when it’s much better, causes people to feel loss. Someone who moves out of their first college apartment into a much better home will still feel sad for the memories they’re leaving behind.

At work, change can threaten people’s comfort zones and their position of expertise on the team. Someone may feel that they aren’t important anymore once a new process goes into effect or may not want to leave the comfort of doing things “the old way.”

Acknowledge the loss that comes from change and talk to people honestly about how they feel. Reassure individuals on your team that their expertise is still valuable and that the new ways will bring new opportunities.

Communicate Well

The communication that surrounds a new process or approach to business can make or break the effort. It’s essential that you let your staff know about a pivot as early as possible and that communication comes from peers rather than just top-down.

When you reassure the team, especially in times of downturn or crisis, you’ll have better morale and your staff will be more likely to embrace the new approach. This can help avoid harmful rivalries that undermine the company’s goals.

Excellent communication helps everyone feel that they are on the same page, and nothing is being hidden from them or done behind the scenes. It’s essential to having everyone agree to the new processes, so the team moves forward together.

Empower Employees Before and After Change

Empowering your staff means that you allow them to evaluate their own work processes and suggest changes that can improve efficiency and effectiveness. This process helps promote an agile mindset throughout the organization, not just at the top.

It can be time-consuming to evaluate business processes regularly unless it’s done by those who use them every day. Why not allow frontline workers to suggest improvements? They are the best qualified to do so.

The second half of employee empowerment is to evaluate and implement the changes they suggest honestly. No one feels empowered if they send in suggestions that are ignored. Encourage your employees by showing them how ideas are evaluated and keeping them in the loop about upcoming changes.

Support Change Long-Term

Change can be exciting and fun at the beginning, but it may lose steam over time. To change effectively in a challenging market there needs to be long-term support for the new processes.

This might mean a long-term budget change or management support not to go back to how things used to be done. Over time, the new process will become part of your company’s fabric and you’ll grow into new pivots.

These tips will allow you to maximize your company’s agility and optimize your ability to pivot in any market. That means you’ll stay competitive in 2020 and beyond, so don’t delay in implementing these ideas!