A Message from Our CEO – Our Response to the Coronavirus
Responding to the Unexpected
So how do we respond to the unexpected, while ‘the unexpected’ is still happening? How do we plan and move forward when each day delivers more uncertainty instead of less? I’ve put a few thoughts together to tell you how we are dealing with these things at HighGear, and why we believe our new normal may not be so abnormal after all. In fact, it may even be an opportunity to shine.
I feel very fortunate to lead a team of people, at HighGear, who naturally prioritize meeting the needs of others. They are a brilliant team, a focused team, and a cohesive team. They even laugh together, frequently. Their commitment to serving our market was reflected back to me late last week by somebody saying, “Vaughn, your team has always gone above and beyond. I mean it, every one of them has a servant’s heart”. I might have doubted this, or thought I was being buttered up but this same person’s boss confirmed the sentiment in a unique way just a few hours later, and unaware of the previous communication.
Honestly, it was a needed ray of sunshine amid a pretty stressful week. Well, the thing is that the team here is still doing this even in ‘the current weather’. This may come as a surprise to any of you that have interacted with them, especially recently, as they continue to be a wellspring of joy and service, but they are also just human beings like the rest of us. They are fathers with families, young people with their whole careers ahead of them (at HighGear, of course), new team members eager to make their mark, immigrants, hobby farmers, serious nerds, gamers, avid fishermen, and I could go on… but we have this one driver in common, we all want to do the right thing.
How does your team answer this…. What is the right thing to do in troubled times?
Let me risk giving an overly simple answer to a complex question by saying that, well, the right thing to do in troubled times is the same thing we should do in easy times: The right thing!
We can’t really serve clients if our first thought in a crisis is “what’s in our best interest here?”, because we will immediately have a conflict of interests. Now if we remove fear – and I know that may seem impossible at times, but haven’t we (and by ‘we’ I mean the ‘we’ at HighGear, or your family, or our country, or the world, or humankind, etc.) always gotten past our challenges in the past? So now, if we remove fear, then what’s next? Well, hopefully a rational response, and effort to recover from whatever had us afraid, and most important of all a shift towards empathy.
If we have empathy for those around us and what they are going through, regardless of whether their interests are the same as ours or not, then we can stop to help a stranger even if we are in a hurry. We can loan something to someone who may never be able to pay us back. And more so, we can certainly help a customer, a co-worker, a vendor, or a friend when we see they are in need, even if it costs us.
Mother Teresa said, “I have found this paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” The point is that that we have learned that doing the right thing only hurts (when it costs you) until it doesn’t, and that it also often comes back to you in indirect and powerful ways. But conversely, doing the wrong thing (in any situation) can cost a price too large to pay, and in the critical areas of reputation and relationship the payments can last forever.
What we can’t lose sight of is that we have a responsibility to the well-being of our staff, to meet the needs of our clients, to succeed for our shareholders, and to be decent to our vendors in that order. Within that framework, we have the freedom to make decisions to accommodate any or all of our stakeholders, and there is never a conflict of interests because serving the stakeholders who support us IS how we succeed.
It isn’t that we are altruistic (though we certainly aspire to get as close to that as we can in this life). Rather, it is a realization (that is important to remember when the high winds come) that doing the right thing when storms come can genuinely enhance our ability to succeed when they pass.
After all, we don’t sell technology at HighGear. We sell value. Isn’t that true for you as well? Relationships are both the illumination behind and the ultimate arbiter of value, aren’t they? If our product has extremely high utility but we don’t care if our customers can wield it, would they come back to us? Why should they? But if our products and services are good, and our commitment to delivering an ROI is excellent, we can earn our market’s trust, their referrals, and the opportunity to serve them more across time, and for a longer time as well. But these high ideals aren’t proven when things are easy, they are proven when the stakes are high, and when it costs us something to deliver what we say we aspire to. The point here is – this is your time to shine too!
In times like this, it pays to inspire and empower your people to do the right thing for your “others”, and to keep the rules simple so the decision making can be close to the need and timely. We want our team to be ready to give a rational response and to be confident that they have the freedom to do the right thing, for everyone we serve and support.
Our simple rules for uncertain times:
We trust our team with the Freedom to adapt to the changing needs and realities of our marketplace, and to work through challenges as professionals.
We stay well-informed of the situation, communicating regularly, so that we can be counted on for a Rational Response.
– We will not overreact, nor will we fail to manage our risks.
We will have Confidence in getting through trouble because we have experience overcoming adversity and trustworthy and empowered people who are committed to doing the right thing, and we are prepared.
Our confidence doesn’t mean that we believe there won’t be difficulty. It doesn’t mean that we believe we can glibly ignore risks or avoid impacts. Rather, it means that we believe that with a great team empowered with the freedom to act, and committed to a rational response, that we can have confidence in our being able to find a way to get through trouble, together.
We are committed to serve our marketplace in this way, to the best of our abilities, regardless of the weather.
So, what’s the right thing to do in troubled times? The same thing we should always be doing. The right thing.
That’s HighGear’s Golden Rule:
We’ll be there for you in the same way we genuinely hope you’ll be there for us once trouble has passed. But it’s not quid pro quo, it’s just the way we roll.