Now more than ever, we’re being challenged to collaborate and work together in a fashion that most aren’t used to. The challenges of the pandemic have not ceased. It is against this backdrop that we must continue as leaders to keep our focus on collaboration and culture in order to maintain the energy and spirit that saw many of us work through the main peak of the bell curve. There is still a long way to go and a new host of challenges are presenting themselves to businesses and leaders globally, across all industries. Therefore, we must keep our eyes focused on overcoming these – and for me, that strategy is through collaboration, with employees, customers, valued stakeholders and prospects.
Create an environment that fosters creativity and innovation
there is no seniority level too big or too small to help innovate our business
As businesses look to recovery, there is now a more pertinent need for them to foster an environment that drives innovation, creativity and new ideas. Organisations must plan to pivot and tailor their offering to suit a post-pandemic world.
We’ve already seen this in action, with global businesses adapting and creating creative solutions to new problems. For example, to manage the demand for online grocery shopping as wary consumers want to avoid the risk of the supermarket, we’ve seen take-out delivery services such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats offering grocery delivery – while it clearly makes sense, this level of service is a long way from what the apps were originally aimed to do. We’ve also watched the proliferation of virtual, with traditional, legacy companies and events adapting their initial physical offering into the digital world in order to maintain momentum. For example, the past few months have given us virtual concerts, virtual award ceremonies such as the GRAMMYs and even moving towards virtual marathons. The pace of innovation and adaptability here is significant and exciting.
Developing these ideas and cultivating an environment that inspires originality is key. That is why I have been and will be continuously encouraging all of my teams to regularly bring ideas to the table, with a cross-team approach that helps leverage the different expertise of each individual team member. Bringing a whole host of ideas, viewpoints, experience and skills to the table is the key to any successful ideation. there is no seniority level too big or too small to help innovate our business. When collaboration with our team improves, so too does our ability to handle requests at pace. It also gives our employees more responsibility, which can go far in raising morale and motivation, especially when teams are still working virtually.
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Keep your eyes peeled and ears open
At WEX, we’re in constant communication with our teams to understand their preferences and what works for them
One of the first lessons of the pandemic was the paramountcy of keeping in tune with your employees, ensuring regular communication even when working remotely and being more receptive and sympathetic to their concerns or individual situations that COVID-19 had prompted.
It may be easy for some leaders to fall back into the old patterns and bad habits that the pandemic brought to light. Businesses may look to scrap some of their more flexible arrangements in pursuit of efficiencies and ‘getting business done’. However, if anything, now is the time to pay more attention to your number one resource, your people.
Research shows that what workers want to have has shifted since the beginning of the pandemic, with many now wanting greater flexibility, a hybrid working system, as well as prioritizing a host of new workplace benefits, such as better health protections and data privacy. Each generation has varying priorities and will want different outcomes from the workplace in a post-COVID era, and so having a one-size-fits-all policy will only alienate and affect the morale of staff.
If businesses are keen to drive forward and emerge successful out of this crisis, they’ll need to ensure they are consistently collaborating with their teams in order to understand their needs and wants and harmonize these with the needs of the business. Put simply, the two go hand in hand. At WEX, we’re in constant communication with our teams to understand their preferences and what works for them – for example, we’re trialing a return to office with health and safety as a priority, putting our people first for the future of our business.
Work in collaboration with your partners
We are among an unprecedented time of change – and there are still significant challenges to come. When looking at your current business, understanding how you can work with your customers to provide mutually beneficial outcomes to all parties, not just your own.
For example, in our business, we’ve seen how the role and importance of payments has been elevated, as the crisis has highlighted the fallbacks from not having efficient, digital and seamless payments processes in place. There is now an increased pressure on organizations to build and maintain trust in their payment chains, particularly as customers globally are forced to change their plans. It has been integral for us to understand our role as a global payments provider and see how we can develop innovative solutions to help add value to our customers end-to-end.
Be understanding, be trusting and be loyal. Enter difficult conversations with a more positive mindset and look at how we can tackle and mitigate problems, not just shift them.
We were doing this pre-pandemic. My leadership style, particularly during this time of uncertainty, is to speak and collaborate with partners and customers on a human basis first. While the numbers are very important, taking the time to ask how people are, how we can work together to both derive value, does go a long way. Not acting in haste or rushing decisions will help create long-term lasting partnerships.
Collaboration will put you on the course for success
The take homes from the past half-year should not cease to be front and center in any organisation. As we move into the next phase of the new, and the often intimidating unknown, there is one thing we know for sure – collaboration is key to success. Only from working collaboratively with our employees, our customers and our wider stakeholders can we truly effect positive change in our businesses that can help drive success for the long-term.