MANAGING INTERNAL & EXTERNAL STAKEHOLDERS DURING COVID-19 CRISIS

2 April 2020

The COVID-19 outbreak and Movement Control Order (MCO) have brought a new challenge for us in the communications industry. We had to find the best ways to continue deliver quality work without having physical resources and meetings, as well as ensuring seamless working process within our own team and external stakeholders.
 
David Lian, Managing Director, Asia, Growth & Innovation of Zeno Group shares his experience in managing internal and external stakeholders during the COVID-19 crisis.
 

Q: What are the measures taken to ensure that the crisis doesn’t affect client servicing?
 
A: There are two aspects for us; firstly, having a robust technology infrastructure. Secondly, strong HR policies and good company culture that enables effective working from home.

We’ve instituted flexible working since we began operations in Malaysia, so working from home is not something new to our colleagues. Each of us is equipped with a laptop and software that enables us to work collaboratively on documents, setup video conferences and stay in contact with each other as well as clients throughout the day, remotely. More importantly for us is we ensure good client service by being responsive on messages, picking up the phone to speak with our clients (sometimes texting just doesn’t do) and recapping next steps and actions on email. If you think about it, it’s the hygiene of how good client servicing always works, except now, we’re doing our meetings via video-conferencing.
 

Q: What do you think should be done to maintain team spirit during this crisis?

A: I think the most important thing to do is to rally together as a team, get on the same side, and ensure that everyone knows how to play their role and work together. This is to ensure that we all come out of the other end of the crisis together.

While many businesses will no doubt come under strain as the crisis shifts from a health crisis to an economic one, what the best companies will do is to remember we are all humans with very real needs, and work to foster a collective spirit to look out for one another. While I believe there’s a use for scheduling team conference calls, check-ins and social media activities, I also believe that underneath those actions should be the communal spirit of wanting to take care of one another first.

 
Q: Any key learnings that you would like to share?

A: I’ve learnt the importance of culture in a business. Having to work from home leaves the productivity and effectiveness of the business in the hands of the employee.

Good cultures will shine when your employees are independent, self-motivated, and make good decisions on behalf of the business. At the same time, I’ve also read and heard about companies who are doubling down on monitoring software to ensure employees work 9 am – 6 pm, and are inadvertently fostering a sense of distrust. How businesses treat employees during this time of crisis, in many dimensions, will affect how the employees in the long term will treat the business in return.