David Haysom-McDowell, Jomablue CEO, shares the approach he took when preparing his team for impact of COVID-19.

COVID-19 is making its presence felt across the globe. Many industries are being hit hard already, the events industry included. I’ve spoken a number of times with clients, colleagues in agencies and other industry providers to understand how they are doing and what actions they are taking. 

During one of these discussions, I explained what my planning looked like. The feedback I recieved led me to want to share what we did, not because it’s extraordinary but because of our commitment to preparedness and transparency seemed the natural thing for us to be doing.

Nearly a month ago, when the issue of COVID-19 began to intensify, we recognized it could have an impact on our Jomablue community. That isn’t just the immediate people around me, but it reaches beyond my team to those who supply things to us and our clients. I strive for transparency throughout everything we do. Day-to-day that means talking about tough topics rather than allowing speculation to spread as a result of poor communication.  I wanted our team and our partners to know we were considering the possible impact of COVID-19 and I wanted them to be reassured that we will take a proactive approach to being prepared for different scenarios.

At Jomablue we often talk about ‘family first’, which refers to our clients and our people. Beyond whatever duty of care we might have to our teams, we also have an honest commitment to do what is right for them. 

I felt that talking to the team at the right time was important and due to a number of factors, I knew yesterday was the right time. We held a company meeting that included our head office staff and also those in remote locations. It was important to me that everyone heard the same message at the same time to ensure we were all on the same page.

The presentation opened with a discussion of how we are approaching the COVID-19 situation, including where we source information from. We explained the considered approach we are taking, making decisions based on facts rather than speculation. I explained we are being conservative in our planning, knowing which steps we will take based on different possible scenarios. We are hoping for the best, but preparing for the many different paths this could take.

Then, we discussed the importance of team and our commitment to working for the best possible outcome for everyone in the Jomablue family. Topics included how to stay healthy, what to do if you feel unwell, how to effectively work remotely when needed, how to manage international shipments, and additional safety measures to take during show days or unpacking event hardware after a show ends. 

Next, we discussed our forecasting and modelling predictions and explained what the various scenarios might look like. The meeting ended with questions being answered and asking the team for their thoughts and feedback.

Of course it is not possible to say what will transpire or if the COVID-19 crisis will have significant impacts on our business or not.  However, by focusing on our core values and putting the needs of the Jomablue family first, we believe we have positioned ourselves as best we can. 

The Action Plan 

  • Identify the reliable sources of information – we use WHO and our federal and state health authorities
  • Identify and appoint a single point person in the team to be the person to research daily and coordinate our response. This person needs to be senior enough to have discussions with team members
  • Stay on the facts
  • Be up to date on the current situation – what is it today
  • Model possible revenue and expense scenarios based on the understanding of what could happen
  • Talk to your team and keep talking with them
  • Consider who beyond your team you can help. Pick up the phone and ask, are you OK?

I hope sharing this with you can inspire other people leaders to open a conversation with those around you.

Created by David Haysom-McDowell
Jomablue CEO