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“Finding the opportunities amongst the challenges”: The behavioural consultant launching an online academy

June 4th, 2020

For many businesses, the way they operate has changed due to the outbreak of coronavirus.

One North East company has adapted how it works in order to help other businesses and keep generating revenue.

Duo Global Consulting, based in Newcastle, advises companies on how to work better with their employees and support them to create team values.

In the wake of the outbreak, the company has launched an online academy – with the aim of helping businesses to manage their teams effectively through social distancing.

Laura Weaving is the managing director of Duo, and spoke about how the business is pivoting to face the pandemic – and how businesses can support their employees.

What have you done to adapt your business?

“We’ve put together an online learning platform so that businesses have access to the staff training and behaviour management courses that we would normally run face to face.

“We had actually already talked about doing this prior to this.

“We’re teaching all the courses we normally run: leadership and management, how to have difficult conversations, as well as one around leading remotely.”

Why have you done it and how will it help?

“This has been on our radar for a while. We wanted to help the people who couldn’t get to face to face training so we brought that forward.

“We’re really using this time as an opportunity.

“I think first of all, it’s important for businesses to access all the tools they can at this time, and a lot of business owners are navigating their way through it day to day.

“Nobody has ever been through a change this big and we’ve got a responsibility to our teams.”

What can other businesses do to support employees?

“It’s so easy to get consumed by considering how to disaster-plan for your business, and to kind of forget what your team might be going through.

“In this environment, you have to have consciousness of the fact you’ve got to step up and be a leader.

“This is a big change – there’s lots of uncertainty at the moment so it’s important that support is there for people who aren’t dealing with this as well.

“If people aren’t dealing well with change they’re not productive. Being in that stress and anxiety space is not healthy for them or the business.

“A lot of businesses don’t have enough stress management tools. It’s hard, because as well as there being a change within the business, there’s a change within the team itself.

“A big piece of one of the online courses is about managing that change and that transition.

“There are probably going to be more changes coming, and it’s about doing that in the right way and managing the change.

“For us we had one to one conversations with all of team as well as pulling them together.

“We’re currently doing at least two team video calls a day – one in the morning to set the team up, and one to check in later on.

“Video calls are really important for us. On phone calls you can’t see body language, but over video you can kind of assess – does someone look stressed out?

“Then in the one to one conversations you can check in, see what’s going on and where they might need support.

“People are going remember how you behaved and you want them to have a positive impression.

“We will come out the other side – but they will remember how you deal with this.”

How can team members adapt to that change?

“Give yourself a break! People feel like it’s not okay to ask for help, but especially at a time like this they need to speak up if they need support.

“One thing we’ve been doing is making our team feel like they’re in a safe space.

“The key to all of this is open conversations. It’s that side of communication that we really need to tap into.

“As well as management, it’s equally not okay for team members to sit and wait to be communicated with – open the dialogue up!

“Ultimately for team members, people will remember what you did too – if you sit at home doing bare minimum, that will show.

“People will remember who put their hands up. You need to be proactive about your role in the business.

“Directors are human as well and they’ll be stressed out too – remember that.

“I think really my main piece of advice – for businesses and individuals – is that where you can, find the opportunities amongst the challenges.”

Duo’s free behavioural guide is available here.

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