Every company plans for a crisis, but it’s safe to say that no one saw the magnitude of COVID-19 coming for businesses across America. There is no “Coronavirus Playbook” that instructs businesses how to weather the storm and emerge unscathed (or at least with only a few dents in the armor).
We don’t have a secret playbook here at Matlen Silver, but we are confident in our ability to survive and continue to grow in the “new normal” we are all facing.
I believe there are a few specific reasons for this — and no, one of them is not luck! I’m sharing them with you here in the hopes that you may be inspired to take one or more actions, big or small, to help your company or team get through this difficult time.
Our team is in this together.
This sounds a bit trite, but it is incredibly true. I’ve been on the Matlen Silver team for most of my career — 23 years at this point — and after five years as COO, stepped into the CEO role last year. For nearly five years, we have invested a significant amount of resources into building, nurturing and maintaining a strong culture.
When you are clear on who you are and get buy-in on that culture from everyone on your team, your culture and your business literally explode (in a good way!). It’s not a coincidence that in the time we’ve been primarily investing in culture and people, we’ve also seen the largest growth in our history.
So everyone is on board, they get who we are, what we do and why we do it. That alone is powerful. But with everyone working from home right now, it can be tough. People are stressed. They’re scared. They’re helping their kids do their school work. There’s a lot going on.
That’s a big reason why we started holding weekly “All Hands on Deck” calls every Monday. I remember vividly that first call. You could feel the tension in the air. The headlines weren’t pretty for most industries, and I know now that many members of our team feared that I was hosting the call to announce layoffs.
I wanted to cut through that tension immediately and thoroughly. We haven’t let anyone go. And we don’t plan on letting anyone go. That wasn’t the point of that first, and all subsequent, “All Hands on Deck” calls, though.
Instead, they serve to MOTIVATE. It’s normal to feel down right now. It’s okay. But I want our team to feel inspired and motivated. There is zero negativity on these calls. We use them to talk about our “Maverick Moments” — the successes and wins we achieve together.
I’m extremely proud of these calls. And of our team.
Rather than focusing on words, we’re focusing on action.
My background is in PR and marketing, so I understand the power of words and communication. They are an essential component of our success. That being said, sometimes it can be easy to “rest” on words and lean on them rather than moving forward.
My family emigrated here from Portugal. Like it is for many immigrants, their early days were challenging. But my parents and grandmother, after a rough start in California, hopped on a train to New Jersey and didn’t look back. They took action, first leaving Portugal and later leaving California, to forge their own path. Their journey has inspired me throughout my career.
I started at Matlen Silver at the bottom of the organization. When there wasn’t a clear path created for me to move through the company, I created one myself. Every member of our team knows that he or she can do the same. Build your path and move forward. Take action.
To help everyone move forward, we focus on urgency and action instead of words. Our team and our culture are built on grit and resilience. That’s why, although no one was truly “ready” for this situation, I have all the confidence in our team right now. Our team has always been taking steady, consistent action toward our goals. Even when we struggle, we are always moving forward. We know that struggles are simply moments in time and with hard work, we will get through them. That’s why we continue to move forward now.
With many sales teams understandably struggling right now, our sales team here at Matlen Silver is really personifying this focus and belief system. They understand the struggles and frustrations so many of us are feeling right now, and have adapted their conversations appropriately. They’re not being pushy or “sales-y” at a time when people are on edge. They’re treating our clients and prospective clients as people and are focusing on relationships.
By taking a measured approach and continuing to move forward, focusing on action, our sales team has been closing new deals. We continue to hire internally, and most certainty for our clients (current and new), and right now, we’re continuing to grow.
From top to bottom, internal team to our consultants, we care about each other.
I’ve already introduced you to our “All Hands on Deck” calls. These are a big part of our week, and serve as a great way to kick things off on a positive note every Monday.
But we’re also doing everything we can to support our internal team and network of talent. From virtual yoga with a skilled teacher to virtual happy hours across all our locations (I have really enjoyed popping into these happy hour events when I can!), we aren’t just working together, we’re getting through this time together. We are a team of people who care, and you simply can’t fake that — it’s extremely powerful.
I’ve hopped on the phone with most of our team since this crisis began. Answering questions, providing support, listening, talking — the essentials of a strong conversation. But when we’re scared, we also want to be heard. I’m grateful I can sit and talk to our team to help ease any fears and answer any questions to the best of my ability.
Just a few weeks back I saw an email go out from the team to our network of consultants. We’ve been sharing ideas to make the most out of sheltering in place. Fun things to help the time go by, along with advice and help to keep their careers moving forward.
It seems like such a small touch, I know. But it really matters. In fact, our candidate NPS has gone up significantly since we have entered the crisis (⬆️22%). It was already more than double the industry average. Now it’s more than triple. We don’t take that lightly. In fact, it makes us want to do more. Because we care. That’s the Maverick Way.
We continue to invest in our team.
You might pick up on a theme here. We really are all about our people. I firmly believe — and our continued growth suggests I’m on to something — that by investing in a strong culture and the right people, we’ll naturally draw in and build trust with consultants. And an end product of that is stronger client relationships. When you focus on people and culture first, success truly stems from that foundation.
Our team investments include copious training and advancement opportunities. A mentorship program. A fantastic referral program that rewards our team for referring their friends, family or colleagues beyond a single check. And even amidst the current chaos, our team is looking for ways to do even more. I was just talking this morning about how a member of our team has taken it upon herself to develop more advanced trainings for our team. Just because she has the time and resources. You cannot underestimate how rewarding it is for me as a leader to see members of the team go above and beyond like that — it is truly gratifying.
There are so many brands getting it “right” right now.
I see it when I go to the store or place an order online. Read headlines or see an uplifting post about a brand on social media. There are some really wonderful companies and people doing extraordinary things in this difficult time.
But you don’t have to be extraordinary right now — many businesses and people are just trying to get through and come out okay on the other side. Wherever you are in your journey, I wish you well. I hope that by sharing some of our story, I’ve given some ideas or at least some inspiration to help you move forward.