At the beginning of 2020, COVID-19 appeared from nowhere and sent every aspect of life and business into turmoil. Our national vaccination campaign offers hope, but uncertainty remains.
Like many businesses, my firm is experiencing our second lockdown with most of our legal teams working from home. Work practices have been forced to adapt just to survive.
One constant has been the focus on our organisation’s values. Before COVID, every decision, every meeting, and every communication was informed by our values. During COVID, every decision, every meeting, and every communication is still informed by our values.
Our values are the DNA of our business and were chosen as a central driver, as well as a reference point for what we do and, importantly, how we do it. DNA does not change because of adversity or uncertainty – and neither do values.
Values, whether written or not, have shaped every aspect of many organisations creating a unique identity that sets a business apart from its competitors. If integrity is a stated value then it has to be maintained at all times. If staff wellbeing is a value then it can’t be abandoned or pushed to one side when things get tough.
Uncertainty can open the door to fear which is a certain driver for poor decision-making. Holding fast to our firm’s values during COVID has not made life easy but it has enabled us to maintain perspective. Choosing each day to operate in accordance with our values is one thing that is directly within our control. We can’t control public health orders or political decisions, but we can choose how we continue to provide and deliver our services.
There is a coffee shop around the corner that is a case study in how to pivot, and then re-pivot, a business. What’s truly impressive is how the owner never complains, is never negative, and has maintained quality and a focus on customer service regardless of circumstances. It would be easy and understandable for a small business that loses 70 - 90 per cent of its customer base to feel entitled to make the odd complaint. The commitment to quality and service without grievance makes me want to return to that coffee shop time and again.
Choosing to remain true to your values is something we can all hold on to in uncertain times.