Making the Difficult Decisions and Addressing Uncertainty

May 9, 2020

Are there any words that you are tired of hearing to describe this pandemic? Trying. Uncertain. The term I’m most guilty of over-using: Unprecedented. So when reading a business article and the writer described these as vertiginous times, I had to consult the dictionary. Turns out the definition instantly rang true with me. Haven’t we all felt like our worlds were on tilt and that we might be suffering from vertigo or dizziness? Coincidentally, my husband suffered through a few days of actual vertigo during this pandemic. His need to slow down, stop to access his surroundings, and find new ways to approach routine tasks was synonymous with many of the actual feelings we have all encountered. These are vertiginous times!

As leaders, you have been called upon to simultaneously make difficult decisions and address uncertainty that others are feeling. Many of you have inspired me with your posts about how you are innovating and persevering during these trying, uncertain, unprecedented times to continue to build Unstoppable Cultures.

We tapped into the Unstoppable Cultures Fellowship community to offer inspiration and practical ideas from Culture leaders.  Here’s hoping that their examples will provide affirmation for or motivation toward concepts you are implementing.

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Jenny Love Meyer
Chief Culture Officer, Love’s Travel Stops
Headquarters: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Concept:  Culture of “taking care of our people” being integrated into business decisions

“Probably the thing that comes to mind regarding how the Love’s leaders have responded to the COVID crisis is how we have made decisions. When this hit we knew that we had business reasons why we needed to retain our store teams. And we put together a pay and benefits package back in mid-March to do so. However, in the process of making very expensive decisions for the company, the culture of taking care of our people came up in every conversation. A few years ago these compensation decisions
would have been strictly about the business. I’m proud of our leaders for that change!”

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Debbie Harsh
SVP, Chief Culture Officer, Center State Bank
Headquarters: Davenport, FL

Concept: Personalized approach to addressing customers…don’t miss this example of 75,000 calls

“We realized that the Senior population was one of the groups who were so susceptible to the Virus. We printed the names and contact information of all of our Senior customers and placed personal calls to 75,000 of them ensuring they were o.k., if they were in need of anything, etc. The impact was huge. Many of them live alone and were so pleased that their bank cared enough to reach out with a phone call just to check on them. Our employees, on the other hand, were just as impacted when they heard the response and excitement of our customers.”

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Jeremiah Jones
Training and Development Manager, Clear Mountain Bank
Headquarters: Bridgeport, West Virginia

Concept: Moving forward with a new recognition program (to rave results) even in this difficult time


“Last week, we were proud to unveil our first-ever employee recognition platform – Clearly Outstanding! Employee recognition was a larger project of our bank’s strategic initiative on culture since 2019 and a bigger push to complete before June 2020. Our company-wide survey from 2019 showed we had significant room for improvement with recognition. We did some small, informal recognition to bridge the gap until our formal recognition was ready. Our employees have overwhelmingly responded to the use of Clearly Outstanding in the initial days with hundreds of examples being shared around our bank. In a time when we could have said, “We have more important things to take care of”……we decided there was no more important time to share how much we appreciate one another.”

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Megan Flynn
VP Talent & Culture, Tennessee Valley Authority
Headquarters: Knoxville, TN

Concept: Not slowing down on the culture roadmap—humanizing the culture

“The Tennessee Valley Authority has a rich history around our mission to serve the people of the Valley (our customers). Over the past few months, we’ve taken a revitalized enterprise strategy to our Board that places an intentional focus on our people (our workforce). Through the People Advantage, we intend to amplify the energy, passion and creativity within us all, so we can become the destination for difference makers.

Now that the strategic direction is set, we’re developing and working through our culture roadmap. Our first step is to humanize the culture — assessing the current culture, putting a call to action for our leaders to develop the culture promise, and taking on a new employee engagement approach. We’re also looking ahead at the next major milestone of shifting mindsets and beliefs where we’ll be refreshing our values, emphasizing a culture of inclusion, and implementing a change management plan to ensure alignment to the People Advantage.”

•    •    •    •    •

Look for more examples in coming months of how organizations are keeping their Cultures in the forefront of their planning and response to this pandemic. If there is a specific topic you would like to know more about, please let me hear from you.

Together, we truly can build Unstoppable Cultures!


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