Our regular Business Coaching column in the Herald. Read January's problem here if you didn't pick up the newspaper or access their website.
"I need a strategy for Brexit"
Question: At the beginning of each year I fix my annual strategy but Brexit has stumped me. What do I do?” John
Answer: My initial response is ‘Don’t panic Mr Manwairing!’ because with the lack of direction and leadership from our politicians, there has been a tendency to panic. This prevents clear, considered thinking and good decision making.
The reality is that devising your strategy for the year ahead will be the same, if slightly more complicated, as for every year. You know what your short, medium and long-term targets are and have existing plans in place to achieve those. You’ll use the SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis and the PEST analysis (political, economic, social, technical) to assess whether those plans need changing. The likelihood is they will as none of us have a crystal ball so any assumptions you made at the beginning of last year may not have turned out to be true.
In relation to Brexit, if you haven’t done so already, you should know what exposure you have to/in the European market. How much of your products or services are reliant on exports or imports, both in terms of the finished item and the supply chain. With regards to your workforce assess how much exposure there is in terms of recruitment and skill sets.
Now check your plans against three scenarios: a no deal, a deal which allows for transition, or the status quo, ie staying within the EU. How robust are they for each scenario? What assumptions are you making? How smoothly can you adapt as a business should your favoured outcome not be forthcoming?
It will take time and clear thinking and that’s where your leadership comes into play. You need to ensure that everyone involved in the analysis and planning also retains clear thinking. Remain rational and centred on the issue in front of you. Engage a facilitator to help you do this if necessary: it’s useful to have someone who has no emotional involvement with the company or the issue who can help you maintain clarity of thought.
Once you have plans for each of the scenarios ensure they are clearly communicated to the workforce. The reassurance that their own leadership knows what they’re doing will help them better manage any transition.
(Names and details have been changed to protect confidentiality)
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Laura Murphy blogs about things that interest her. They might not interest you but read them anyway. It might even change your mind.