We're In Unchartered Waters So How Can We Avoid Overwhelm?

12 simple strategies to start navigating the new 2020
I had this week's blog all ready to go and then the world has started to spiral out of control so I've spent yesterday writing a different blog instead. So I apologise for this not coming out, as per usual, on a Wednesday.

I'm sure, like me, you're trying to get your head around what the Coronavirus means for you, your family, your RTO business, your team, your students etc.

And as we've seen by the continual press conferences and news updates, this is a story which is changing not only every day, but often, many times during the day.

Not only are we all, myself included, trying to work out the next best steps for our businesses; but how to minimise the impact on our daily lives as best as we can. And we've seen how difficult that has been and may continue to be, if the grocery store shelves are any indication.

Many of you are also probably involved in sport and community activities, and although I'm not coaching netball this year, I'm in the midst of cancelling flights which were meant to take me to Round 1 of the AFL and in a few weeks time, another game and the Melbourne Comedy Festival. And today, it is now uncertain whether I'll be able to attend church on the weekend.
FOCUS:  Manage Your PEOPLE
And as much I love and embrace change, I'm also feeling the anxiety which is being created by the unknown future ahead of us, the many changes each day and the impact of those changes on our work and personal lives; as well as the media heightened language which is constant.

But we have a few choices still left entirely up to us, and the main one is how we react. We can choose to continually react to each and every piece of information thrown at us, via reliable (and unreliable) sources on TV, social media as well as hearsay.

Or we can stop and take a breath, and calmly see what we can do to minimise the impact on ourselves, our family, our team and our business.

I understand how hard it is to do this – being proactive is always harder to do than being reactive – but if any time calls for this reaction, I believe it is now.

We also need to acknowledge some givens:

• 2020 will now be very different
• This will be a hard year for everyone but we will get through it
• We don't know the impact of this virus as yet, but we know many people will get it, to some degree, over the next few months
• Things will change and for the short term – probably every 2 or 3 days
• Opportunities do arise out of challenging times
• We need to stick together – as a business, as a team and as a sector – so we all come out together on the other side.

I feel most people, especially those running RTOs, are struggling with overwhelm and information overload. So my pledge to you, at least for the immediate future, is to use my weekly blog as a way to give you some practical and simple strategies to get you and your RTO business through these challenging times.

So this week's blog (and it is a bit long) is to provide an overview of 12 simple strategies to help you navigate the new 2020. If we can consciously action these strategies each and every day, I believe it will help the long term viability of our businesses, as well as the mental health of our people which are my highest concerns.

12 Simple Strategies To Help RTOs To Start Navigating The New 2020

- Catch Up
- Consolidate
- Continuity

- Clarity
- Communication
- Connection

- Finances
- Flexibility
- Fun

- Kindness
- Patience
- Forgiveness


As strange as it sounds, out of challenging times comes opportunity. At the moment, it seems many RTOs will be reducing or shutting down face to face training, and if this can't be moved to some form of online delivery, then many of your team may not have work to do (or so you think).

Downtime is the best time to invest in developing, streamlining and improving your systems.

Granted, it's not the most exciting thing to talk about but if you have staff unable to perform their normal work duties, then this is the perfect time to capture the knowledge in their heads. That way, your RTO will be in such a better position when you 're-
open for business'.

It's often though hard to know where to start so I suggest a 3 stage process to determine systems to work on first, by whom and when.

Stage 1 Catch Up on outstanding tasks

Stage 2 Consolidate your systems and procedures by documenting the knowledge in people's heads

Stage 3 Continuity
of products and services with an understanding they may be different in six months time – be it what they actually are and/or the mode of delivery.

FOCUS (another 3 Cs)

With so much information, confusion and anxiety out there; it's important to get CLEAR on the key priorities so we can all remain calm and focused (as much as possible).

Here's the 3 things you need to embrace so as to stop from reacting to everyone and everything.

1. Clarity about what's important for today and tomorrow, and who's doing what. It's great to have an eye on the priorities for the next week and month, but as that's probably going to change due to circumstances beyond your control, I would focus on getting through today and tomorrow, and then go from there when you definitively know more.

2. Communication to staff and students about what's happening and why. So you don't add to the overwhelm people are feeling, limit your communications (if possible) to once a day or once every few days.
You also want to ensure people are hearing ONE MESSAGE rather than multiple messages from the one organisation. This goes for staff and students.

3. Connection can occur in many different ways. As people are feeling very uncertain about jobs and life, think about how you can keep connecting with your staff and students – either via Zoom, Skype, phonecalls, emails, Slack etc; as well as getting out of your office to walk the floor more regularly.

MAINTAIN (the 3 Fs)

Like most businesses, you still need to keep the RTO going with a 'business as usual/unusual' attitude.
With this in mind, there are 3 key areas to be maintained.

1. Finances by probably throwing your 2020 targets out the window and re-doing them with some additional/different income streams. Now more than ever, it's critical to be on top of your daily financial numbers as you monitor cashflow and expenses.

2. Flexibility in every decision and opportunity which comes your way so I suggest you act as the Tortoise not the Hare to maintain proactivity in your flexibility.

3. Fun definitely needs to be happening in your RTO – if only to keep everyone sane. So how can you bring the FUN into every single day and include everyone in your team, whether they are in the office or working remotely? Maybe it's having a book/TV Show target for those people who are self-isolating, or # hours since something has changed (a different take on # days since an accident in the workplace).

What's Next?
I believe it's very important to keep practising kindness, patience and forgiveness every day, as we face the many challenges in these unprecedented times.

Practise Kindness to ourselves, our family, our team, our students and our larger community. It doesn't cost anything but it will help us get through challenging times.

Practice Patience and understand at times of high stress, people don't always think as clearly or as quickly so productivity will be down; at least for the next few months. Bear this in mind when you reassess targets and key performance indicators.

Practice Forgiveness not only to others, but particularly for ourselves as leaders of our businesses. This is an event which none of us have ever experienced in our lifetime so just like the government and health officials, we're all making the best decisions we can, based on the information we have at the time.

We won't always get it right so when it seems like we've 'made a wrong decision', rather than beating ourselves up (or other people), let's just calmly take stock and learn the lesson for next time.

And here's my final thought:

Life is unchartered territory. It reveals its story, one moment at a time.
Leo Buscaglia

Regarding social media, I'm advising people to limit their time on it, as well being selective in what social media posts you put your faith in and make your decisions by. I prefer to go with reputable organisations who are providing me with the facts, as known at the time, rather than getting myself worked up and anxious by mixed messages which are often portrayed using very emotive language.

We need to keep ourselves physically and mentally safe during this time.

If anyone wants to reach out to me and have a chat about what they should do next, please don't hesitate to send me an email or give me a call.

Stay safe and keep your chin up
Dedicated to your success

Author: Tamara Simon

Tamara Simon is Australia's Only Dedicated RTO Business Coach who's driven to making your RTO life easier.

For over twenty years, she's been helping timepoor RTO Owners, CEOs and Managers get out of OVERWHELM so they can

- Get back in control and on track

- Grow their business... simply

- Reignite their passion for training

Find out more about Tamara Simon, her Coach In Your Corner RTO Membership Program and how she can take your RTO from Overwhelmed to Optimised here:


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