We’re months deep into a pandemic and I hope you, your families, and your teams are OK. Zuri Group is doing reasonably well, all things considered, and it’s all because of our clients. So I want to share lessons that we are learning from them and trends we’re seeing in the industry.
We are hearing from our clients some combination of: “everything is different and not so good,” or “a new normal is settling in and it’s (not) working,” or “we’re doing even better as people’s generosity has grown.” While none of us know exactly what to expect, I suspect all of us are probably a little right and a little wrong.
So, what have the first four months of the pandemic taught us? For each of us it’s different, but our clients’ experiences are starting to show four patterns.
- We can do it. Times are weird, tough, maybe even scary. But our team and our clients have found solace in diving into the work. The recent analysis on productivity shows people working more and not less (where not affected by unemployment, of course). My take on this is that team members appreciate that work is real and goals can be accomplished, despite the confusion elsewhere. That spirit will take us a long way. Giving people tangible deliverables makes a daily difference.
- Really great technology (and technologists) have never been more important. Some of our clients had offices up and running in a few days and for others it took weeks. This was often a function of how fully adopted their tech was. It’s 2020 and working-from-home works if the right tech is in place (think: document management tools, processing workflow, and information delivery). Now is the time to assess where you stand, what in-person manual processes are out-of-date and ineffective, and how well you can withstand the (potential) need for an ongoing work-from-home model.
- The unknown can stall smart decisions. We have seen retrenchment in some long-planned decisions. Budget concerns are the number-one cited reason, of course, but the ramifications of stalling out are real. We already see too many clients with too little tech to meet their needs. Clients who are navigating this well are road mapping their needs, finding solutions to continue investment, and building ROI models to persuade their boards to continue investing.
- It still comes back to people. Empathy is vitally important right now. Zuri Group established unlimited PTO (paid time off) well before the pandemic because we care about results. That has served us well, and our clients who are adopting this model are seeing increases in productivity. More than ever, team members need to also be seen as and allowed to be parents and caretakers. Of course, the team needs to deliver (which they are craving) without burning out, so monitoring this balance is crucial.
In addition to these trends, I am absolutely sure about one thing: humans are amazingly adaptive. We will find ways to fix the damage, clear the rubble, and shape the new present into a viable future. I am also sure that the nonprofit community will be a major contributor of the cooperation, generosity of spirit, and strength of character that will guide us through the rough times and coming opportunities.
What are you doing to adjust during the pandemic? Please share the trends you are seeing so that all of us can learn from each other and continue to grow.
John is an innovative leader and strategic thinker with over 30 years of experience and more than a decade in the nonprofit technology arena. John founded Zuri Group in 2007 with the knowledge that nonprofit organizations are most successful when they have trusted partners in technology on the team.