As coronavirus tightens its grip on the world economy, it’s been fascinating to see how business leaders have responded.
Some, like Jeff Bezos of Amazon, have taken the bull by the horns. He introduced a range of employee safeguarding measures, adapted supply chains and company practices, and prioritised the most at-risk groups. Other CEOs were – how shall we put it – less proactive. And many have backtracked and apologized for their initial reactions.
Crisis management is an absolutely essential business skill. If the coronavirus outbreak has proven anything, it’s that the modern business world, with its razor-tight margins, global supply networks and dependency on volatile markets, is far more fragile than we thought.
While the MBAs offered by EU Business School have different areas of emphasis such as digital marketing or sports science, all cover a core set of skills to enable students to excel in times of crisis. Let’s take a look at the main ones.
1. Management Skills
Management skills are fundamental during times of crisis when the need to coordinate employees in light of new company objectives is more pressing than ever.
Good managers bring together a diverse skill-set to motivate, organize, train, track, and aid teams in pursuit of common goals. Crucially, managers also need to understand the nature of the relationship between a typical employee and the broader company.
As more businesses move online and start to rely heavily on remote work, e-Learning, and collaborate increasingly with freelancers and contractors, managers that aren’t familiar with the nuances of digital management will find themselves at a major disadvantage. This has certainly proven to be the case with coronavirus.
2. Organizational Behavior
Organizational behaviour is the study of human behaviour in corporate settings. For business leaders that find themselves in a crisis, a thorough understanding of how employees respond to different processes, environments and incentives is invaluable.
The best business people invariably possess a deep and well-developed understanding of human psychology and how it manifests in an organizational context.
Organizational behaviour is an evidence-based pursuit. Managers rely on both quantitative and qualitative data to tailor decisions and implement processes that are congruent with changing employee socio-cultural expectations, technology and company goals.
3. Human Resources Management
When you mention the phrase ‘human resources’ most people instantly think of a drab office scene featuring uninspired employees carying out routine and uninteresting tasks. But HR is an exciting field. And an essential one from a crisis management perspective.
Human resources, now perhaps more popularly referred to as people management, talent management or even employee experience, covers a broad set of disciplines related to finding, retaining, and inspiring employees. It includes training, mentorship, compensation, legal responsibilities, dealing with conflict, and more.
Importantly, effective human resources management also has a significant ethical component. Many managers and business owners fail to account for the moral dimension of their decisions, which is always a mistake during emergencies.
4. Global Economics and Supply Chains
The corporate world is more connected than ever. A commonplace product like a mobile phone, for example, requires parts from more than two hundred suppliers spanning myriad countries, time-zones, and languages.
Important business activities, especially in times of crisis, take place in a global economic context. So it’s essential for decision-makers to have a robust understanding of topics like worldwide supply and demand, governmental policies, financial systems, and more.
Supply chain disruption is perhaps the biggest contributor to business failure during times of crisis. And leaders that understand how to build flexibility into country-spanning supply chains and respond quickly during times of disruption are much better placed to weather any storms.
5. Communication and Negotiation
Communication is an essential skill on multiple levels during a crisis. Managers and leaders need to understand how to use existing channels and systems to spread time-sensitive information to customers and employees as quickly as possible. Equally, the quality and persuasiveness of those messages will be an essential aspect of their success.
But what about negotiation skills? Surely these will take a back seat during an emergency? Many things will need to be altered during difficult times, including business deals, employee compensation, supply chain arrangements, partnerships and more. All of these examples highlight the need for well-developed negotiation abilities.
Develop the Skills You Need to Thrive in Uncertain Times
Many prospective students are understandably feeling anxious and uncertain. The coronavirus outbreak has highlighted a myriad of vulnerabilities in the global corporate and economic system.
But if you’re eager to pursue a career in business, don’t be put off. At EU Business School, all of our MBAs cover the skills you need to deal with business crises efficiently, effectively and ethically, limiting damage to employees, customers, and long-term company health.