Embracing change in the face of a pandemic

Lancashire business leaders have shared how they have embraced change, both in their organisations and personally, as they face the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

They were speaking on an online roundtable organised by Lancashire Business View and supported by HR training consultancy Collaborate Business Solutions.

The panel discussed embracing change and embedded learning and shared how they and their businesses had adapted to the new circumstances.

Louisa Scanlan of Collaborate Business Solutions said: “Leaders now are being more authentic and open”. They were also more willing to reach out and look for help from others.

Iain Round, partner at accountants Beever and Struthers, said: “I’ve learned so much these past six months about how tech can help clients, my staff and improve the service overall.”

He added: “My leadership approach has had to move from leading by example in the office to trying to encourage people on a one-to-one basis.”

Simon Iredale, founder of Preston-based marketing agency Motionlab, said: “It has been the most difficult and challenging period since we started in 1998. We have changed the way we work, so it is a more systematic and simpler approach.”

Simon said that he had been able to look at his personal goals during lockdown and recognise the need to look after his wellbeing. He went on: “I’ve learned to be incredibly truthful to myself”.

Greg Ward, from wealth management group Mattioli Woods, said the early days of lockdown had been spent communicating and reassuring clients while portraying confidence to staff and to focusing on them as individuals.

Ian Liddle, partner at law firm Farleys, also said it had been important to give staff confidence and positivity and to convey that same pro-active message to clients.

He said businesses need to recognise that what had taken place was not their fault and added that as a leader he had “learned to be a bit more patient”.

Chris Smith, of Pendle Engineering, said leaders had to be “honest and truthful” when it came to leadership and calm when it came to decision making.

Lesley Burrows, who chairs the Calico Group, said: “Being an authentic leader is crucial and sometimes that means admitting to your team that you don’t have all the answers.”

Siobhan Courtney of Eventus Recruitment Group said lockdown gave her “an opportunity to step back and look at all our infrastructure and the way do things and to review everything. We also put in a new IT system.”

Karen Buchanan, Burnley College principal, revealed how it had migrated all its learning online in a matter of days, creating online classes using Google as a platform. She added: “I have nothing but praise for the resilience of the students and the staff.”

Steve Fogg, who chairs Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said when it came to recovery there was no “one size fits all” solution for the county and it was important to encourage businesses to be optimistic.

There was also a need to balance the impact of technology with the mental health of people and their need to interact.