This is the final installment in our Q&A discussion on the impact of COVID-19 on businesses and how companies are moving forward. Participating in the conversation are members of the BIP Capital executive team and leaders from a number of our portfolio companies.
Part 1 of the discussion can be found here.
Part 2 of the discussion can be found here.
What key attribute should entrepreneurial leaders exhibit in order to lead their teams given today’s remote-work environment and potential long path to economic recovery?
Answer from Mark Flickinger, COO, BIP Capital
During this time, entrepreneurial leaders need to be more overt with their communications to ensure that everyone hears them and that what they’re saying resonates throughout the organization. In particular, strategy and vision should be areas of focus. If the business is staying the course, adjusting expectations, or is required to pivot, this needs to be clearly communicated so that everyone hears it, understands it, and continues to feel motivated.
It’s easy to lose momentum when you lose track of why you are doing something. Keeping all employees informed takes extra effort upfront, especially in a distributed work environment, but investing time in this manner helps to ensure that momentum will continue to build across the organization.
What are you doing to encourage and motivate your teams while they’re working remotely and in this challenging economic environment?
Answer from Christy Johnson, CEO, AchieveIt
The main focus has been on keeping the team informed and connected. Sending out a regular email update of highlights from the week and having a monthly virtual all-hands meeting are two of the ways we are staying informed.
Virtual happy hours and group exercise classes, as well as virtually celebrating as a team special occasions like baby showers and graduate school completions, are some of the ways we are staying connected. We have always had a “Buzz Committee” and they have shifted their efforts to planning virtual events and ensuring we have opportunities for the entire team to interact.
Answer from David Rudolph, Founder and CEO, PlayOn! Sports
Nothing we’re doing is “easier” than it was in pre-COVID times. After we closed the office in mid-March, we’ve worked to ensure that everyone is on the same page so that the execution of our evolving plan delivers the intended results. We’ve held consistent and frequent (but concise) broader virtual meetings to ensure everyone is feeling engaged and not isolated. Over-communication is key as we work through the evolving circumstances to ensure the context that we typically pick up through face-to-face discussions isn’t lost in phone calls, email, text, or Slack. Additionally, certain smaller teams have held strategic discussions in person—outside, of course, and with appropriate social distancing.
Leadership has worked to be in tune with any unique needs that have surfaced and has taken appropriate measures to address them. Examples include more flexibility with certain deliverables at times, creative incentives like gift cards for food delivery, and money to ensure our employees have the appropriate work-from-home equipment. Overall, spirits are good, we have big goals to hit in the upcoming 2020-21 school year, and everyone is doing their part to ensure we deliver both individually and as a corporation.
Answer from Tyler Winkler, CEO, UserIQ
We make sure we hire people who need little motivation to do their best. We also make sure each employee knows what they’re working for and is given responsibilities that play to their strengths.
In a startup environment, there’s always more work to be done. Employees are given a backlog of deliverables to ensure a sense of urgency. In addition, we’ve worked hard on creating a culture of transparency—instituting 1:1s designed around individual personalities, holding daily standups, and offering easy access to executives like myself. I believe that having such a culture can help companies to weather storms like COVID-19.