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It is a vast understatement to say that this year has been challenging. Our business, along with practically every other business across the spectrum, found ourselves in uncharted territory. Mandated store closings, grounded sales teams, new work-from-home initiatives, and disrupted supply chains were all unwelcome hurdles to successfully sustain business though the last several months.
Stress and uncertainty were at an all-time high. Hard decisions were sometimes required. Painful realities had to be faced.
However, amid the chaos of bleak projections and strategy reinvention, arose signs of encouragement and optimism. We found ourselves learning, adapting, innovating, and appreciating things we had once taken for granted. Our “new normal” became a more supportive model. Our teams grew stronger and closer because of it. We developed more understanding of each other’s challenges from both a business and personal perspective.
The weariness of doing business without handshakes, through a video screen, and/or six feet apart - if the customer is even open to taking the call, seems to be better tolerated when everyone is enduring the same issues. At the same time, it is a moving experience to watch our younger team members stepping up and helping those that may have been less ready for the era of online meetings. Kind gestures and real gratitude (along with a few “user error” jokes) have found their way into our virtual workspace.
Now we can honestly say that we’ve seen each other at our best and our worst, and it is nothing to see a furry friend or hear a crying baby in the background of a meeting. But we are better teammates because of it. “We are all in this together” may be a cliché, but it is a truth none the less.
While the demands and expectations never ceased, this did seem to be the moment to have deeper conversations. Discussing everything from health and business fears to our big ideas on how to move the needle more firmly into the black, we talked and listened. Then, we started planning to take small steps toward the change we would like to see.
As each person or team experiments with new ideas or processes, the successes are shared, and the failures understood (after some good laughs). While frustration is ever-present in any business, true appreciation for those willing to put themselves out there is real. We have found that we are all in sales; we are all in marketing; we are all in customer service; we are all in a support position; we are all doing our best; and we are all getting better at this.