Takeaway #1: No one is immune to an economic downturn.
Those of us in the essential industries, such as the Utility, Communication Infrastructure, and Emerging Technology sectors, can be grateful that demand for work has continued through the pandemic because essential industries are required to continue business operations. However, even businesses in essential industries have been impacted and have had to respond. We have had to tighten budgets and communicate transparently with customers and suppliers on how to create a successful recovery.
Takeaway #2: Lean into mentorship.
Heather, who has a heart for mentoring her own employees, hired an executive coach for herself in order to show up for her staff from a place of strength, peace, and understanding rather than a place of fear. The resulting personal growth has helped her remain resilient during these uncertain times. Even coaches need a coach, says Heather.
Takeaway #3: Ask for and share information.
Heather asked the experts in her network about their findings and recommendations to help her steer her business. These experts ranged from attorneys, CPA’s, and co-board members to Entrepreneurs’ Organization peers and fractional CFOs. She then gave back by sharing what she learned with others, including friendly competitors, customers, and other connections.
Takeaway #4: Diversify your customer base.
Thankfully, Heather realized the importance of customer diversification to weathering storms years prior to the pandemic. Customer diversification, by the way, may involve not only growing the existing customer base but also expanding into new markets. This earlier realization about customer diversification was the ultimate reason why Heather opened up Emerging Technology and Utility Infrastructure as new customer divisions, both of which have helped sustain the organization.
Takeaway #5: Find partners that fit your core values.
At the start of the pandemic, HNM saw its partners live out their cultural norms in a magnified way through their collaboration and communication on the path forward. Your partners, whether customers or suppliers, need to be a good core value fit. This will allow you to experience longevity and alignment in your business partnerships.
Takeaway #6: Serve your employees first.
In one instance, HNM was the only staffing supplier of 86 others that called our customer for no other reason than to ask, “How are you doing? How can we help you?” True to our core values, we also did this on a weekly basis with our nationwide staff. This simple effort made a powerful impression on both customers and employees. Leaders during this time have a unique opportunity to not only protect their employees’ livelihoods but also to demonstrate empathy.
Takeaway #7: Stick to your values.
HNM’s number one core value is to be Relentlessly People Driven. The organization is willing to hire, fire, and lose money to live out its core values. One way HNM lived out its Relentlessly People Driven core value was in the way the team supported its contract staff. Whether paying contractors when they couldn’t work or being a listening ear, HNM made sure to demonstrate genuine care to its employees. These steps were all part of Heather’s commitment to prioritize employees’ jobs, livelihoods, and well-being.
Takeaway #8: Make an honest assessment and changes to promote diversity.
In response to the Black Lives Matter movement, HNM has identified KPIs it will use to assess the diversity of its supplier base (for instance, looking at how many of our suppliers are minority-owned) as well as its approach to hiring, leveraging www.diversityworking.com as a great resource for connecting with diverse team members.
Takeaway #9: Listen.
HNM leadership has taken pause on several accounts before moving forward with a new decision to get a pulse on what the rest of the team thinks. HNM has leveraged employee surveys on a range of topics, whether comfortability coming back to the office or ideas for practicing diversity and inclusion. Many of the survey results show different opinions than what would have been expected and have proven valuable input every time.
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