(NC) As the COVID-19 vaccine begins to reach Canadian communities, many small business owners are viewing 2021 as the year to shift from crisis response to rebuilding and recovery.
“While the pandemic continues to pose uncertainties, it’s important that business owners do not remain idle,” recommends Lori Darlington, vice president of small business and strategic partnerships at RBC.
“This is a critical moment to proactively reflect and start thinking about changes and actions you can take today to better position your business for the future.”
For those looking to prepare for their small business’ recovery, consider these three tips:
1. Explore all available relief programs.
Many initiatives – including the Canada Emergency Business Account and EDC and BDC Business Credit Availability Program – have updated eligibility requirements throughout the pandemic. Be sure you’ve checked the latest updates as these solutions can provide the critical temporary relief your business may need as vaccines continue to make their way to communities.
2. Speak with financial experts.
Reach out to your financial partner to proactively discuss your cashflow and recovery plans, as well as flexible credit options. Sharing details on your company’s situation will help bank advisors provide financial and business solutions tailored to your unique circumstances.
3. Focus on what you can control.
Take this opportunity to strengthen relationships with your employees, customers, and community by helping to protect their health. In addition to adhering to physical distancing and sanitation requirements, explore resources that may be included in your payroll software or health benefits to support your employees’ mental well-being. Protecting your greatest asset – your human capital – will have a tremendous ripple effect on customer loyalty, brand reputation and operational resilience.
Find more resources at rbc.com/smallbusinessnavigator.
One approach to ensure effective decision making in small, informal meetings is to develop motions and decisions through consensus. Consensus occurs when there is general agreement by the group on the decision being made.
Well managed meetings allow all participants to be part of the decision making process. Here are some techniques a chairperson can use to encourage and support group participation and discussion:
The chair solicits views
The meeting chair suggests that comments are welcome from the group. Then, if necessary, asks specific participants to share their views. Participants hear several short opinions rather than listening to one or two long speeches.
After a brief discussion, the chair asks for a show of hands to determine support for proposed idea(s). This should help the chair determine how to proceed. This encourages participants to express an opinion.
Groups can be particularly useful in the decision-making process at meetings and for generating ideas from participants. The meeting divides into smaller groups, for a fixed time to discuss assigned issues. A person is chosen to record the conclusions of the group. The groups then report their ideas to the larger meeting. The alternatives that are generated will assist the meeting in resolving issues and making decisions acceptable to all.
This is a procedure for generating ideas which can help to develop alternatives that will assist in resolving the issue being discussed and in coming to a decision. Guidelines for brainstorming are:
- don’t criticize the ideas of others while brainstorming.
- impractical suggestions may trigger practical ideas among other participants.
- the more ideas, the greater the chance of developing a particularly good idea.
- build on the ideas of others, improve on a previous idea, or combine several ideas into one.
- choose one person to record all ideas on a flipchart so that everyone can see them and a record exists: and
- after a brainstorming session, critically screen the list of ideas for four or five consistent items or themes. Also, if brainstorming has been done in smaller groups, identify similar issues from the lists of individual groups. Finally, develop this list of ideas into options for decisions.
Conflict arises in meetings. You might assume conflict is negative, but it can be helpful leading to innovation, positive change or agreement when discussing an issue. It is important to remember that disagreement is necessary to the process of group decision making. The chairperson may have to resolve conflict in a meeting to reach an acceptable decision.
The following are steps that are useful in resolving conflict:
- Recognize that there is conflict and identify the issue causing the disagreement.
- Collect all information relating to the conflict, share it and assess it.
- Propose practical solutions, including the consequences of the proposals.
- Find a mutually acceptable resolution without coercion.
- Carry out the agreement and evaluate its effectiveness, with all parties sharing in the evaluation.
If a meeting does get out of hand, take a short break. When the meeting reconvenes, the chair can summarize the discussion up to the point of conflict or have opposing sides summarize their respective positions. The chairperson can then attempt to lead the two opposing sides in negotiating a solution.