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Battling Volatility

Tips on managing a company post-COVID.

Robby Speaking Headshot 2019

As 2022 rolls on, we seem to move farther away from the two years that will always be known as “the Pandemic,” or “COVID” without necessarily exiting the AFFECTS of the Pandemic. Sourcing disruptions have cascaded down the Supply Chain, sometimes in duplicate, triplicate, or worse. It seems that weather-related disruptions in agriculture industries, and in those industries that depend upon them, are occurring at higher levels than ever. I would argue that this perception could be exacerbated by our need to keep looking for “normal” or even a “new normal,” when nothing normal seems to be emerging. Some combination of exhaustion, mental stress due to jobs that can seem harder than ever, and true ongoing Supply Chain disruptions are combining to continue making jobs, and life, more difficult than ever for many.

I thought I might offer some thoughts on combatting these struggles as many of us look to conquer, combat, or just cope with the volatility that so many are experiencing. It seems that what we need to realize is that perseverance is going to be required for the next several months, and maybe years. For a tired, stressed, and weary community (CP/CM and otherwise), perseverance may prove difficult to achieve. Here are a few things to think about as you seek to persevere and help others to do likewise.

Communication

We all know that good business, and good business relationships depend on communication. I have to wonder whether we don’t also “all” know that we “all” have opportunities to become better at our communication. Sharing information at an additional level of clarity than before has become more critical than ever. Perhaps taking the time to pick up the phone or write more complete thoughts and descriptions into your emails can go a long way to provide the extra information that some may need to reach their own understanding. Perhaps this would help them also muster up yet another round of patience in the process. Do not be afraid to spell things out, maybe at a level you’ve never shared before. We are seeking to remain partners in and through all of this, right? Speaking of patience…

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Patience

I am not necessarily an expert at all things stress related, disruption related, or inflation related. I do know that passing quick judgment on another set of bad news without seeking to understand and accept the context of such bad news is not going to be very sustainable in the current environment. For instance, knowing that your vendor has a delay or other disruption that is going to affect your ability to ship enough of the right product to the right places at the right times is not a fun reality to discover. For many of you today, it is just déjà vu all over again! You can react to your vendor and their delay without also allowing them the chance to provide you with context, or address what they are doing or would like to do to resolve the situation. You can even move right on to the next vendor with your business if the next vendor seems to be able to solve your issue. However, in today’s volatile environment, and maybe because of it, shouldn’t there be even more value in fully understanding one situation (call it the frying pan) before jumping to the next one (possibly to discover that it is the fire)?

Perspective

As I was preparing this column, I had the realization that I am witnessing many things in my community, church, and work that I would never have expected to witness. This is not the right space to discuss many of those things, but one thing we can discuss is where the current environment falls on our own line of career exposure, successes and struggles. Things happen in our personal and work lives that change how we work, what is expected of us, and how we even respond to challenges. Perhaps the current environment, as difficult as it is, should be viewed through a larger lens. Many are fearful that they will be blamed for the disruptions. Others are feeling the brunt of trying to solve issues and problems that they no hand in creating. Most of us just really do want to arrive at a “new normal,” so that we can figure out what our new mode of operation will need to become.

Now, I know this is crazy, but could I just challenge us to take a minute to reflect on just what has already been accomplished over the last 2 years? I daresay that many who read this column are still employed, still performing a contributory function in their organization, and have solved more problems and challenges in the last 2+ years than they faced in the previous 5 or more. I just hope you can see the accomplishment that lies within the solved issues on your list. I hope you can at least look yourself in the mirror and know that you have probably made it through, made it over, made it under or just plain MADE IT in ways that you never would have known that you could! Think about that, and then give that person in the mirror a good solid, “WAY TO GO!” See your weariness, your exhaustion, even, in the light of the things you have been able to accomplish, get done, or just survive. You deserve a break, especially from… YOU!

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