By Tino Mantella
TLG President & CEO
The answer is no, and I am going to prove it. Well, at least I will tell the TLG story. Before I begin, I want to point out that I fully understand that pretty much every company has had to do things differently in 2020. Some did it to survive while others did it to thrive. Of course, most of us had little to no choice.
And I wouldn’t isolate being a resilient company to businesses of any particular size. Whether a local restaurant or Delta Airlines, change has been the order of our times. So, the Turknett Leadership Group is just one of the millions of companies, around the world, that made the changes necessary to keep the wheels on the bus.
Finally, I recognize that the companies that have shut down may have done everything right but just couldn’t turn the corner because of their particular circumstances. We are all aware of the plight of others and we hope over this holiday season that those who can help will help.
The Turknett Leadership Group was formed by Bob and Lyn Turknett, more than thirty-three years ago. Bob is a PhD psychologist and one of the tops in his field. Lyn is a versatile business leader with a fabulous set of skills which have helped to drive leadership development initiatives. Executive coaching has been the prime business offering. Foundationally, we build all of our services around the Turknett’s Leadership Character Model, which focuses on integrity by helping people find a balance of respect and responsibility.
February 2020 was an exciting time for TLG. We had just moved into beautiful new office space and were planning for a big open house in March. We had built out private offices for our coaches and consultants to meet privately with the over one hundred and fifty people that we are coaching, on average. Our board room was set up for strategic meetings and we even created an audio-visual space to connect with leaders from around the USA and beyond. Then, COVID-19 hit. Never facing anything like it before we had to make some quick decisions, like many of you. Tom Peters, the famous business author, shared that “there is only the quick and the dead” in his book Thriving on Chaos
. Never was a more relevant statement made when it comes to COVID-19.
I don’t know if I can say that once the shock wore off, we began to act. You might agree that Covid came on gradually. Given the messaging we were receiving, we didn’t know if it would hit our shores, and then we didn’t know if it would hit our region and our town. Yet, that all happened. Maybe some of us felt that we are the USA, and it couldn’t happen here. Boy, were we wrong!
Now on to our resiliency story:
One of the first things that we had to do is get our technology in order. Some of our team immediately began working from home. Many learned quickly that their technology was less than adequate. Higher speed lines, backup support, aging computers, lack of user knowledge, were just a few of the issues. TLG worked with its partner, SMBIT Technology, to help get people up and running. Also, we have an older workforce so there was a need, perhaps, for more training. Fortunately, we had people willing and people ready and able to train. Embracing change was a big piece of our team’s story…..proud of all of them!!
Secondly, TLG moved all its coaching from face to face to Zoom within thirty days. This required us to buy additional licenses and provide more training.
In addition to coaching, TLG provides a variety of face-to-face training and development programs. Whether strategic planning or classes like Storytelling for Leaders, or our Going First program, we had to not only train our staff but also convince the buyers that they could get the same experience (or close to it) by going virtual. We again tapped into the capabilities offered by Zoom and also trained our team on using a software called Mural, which helped people feel like they were closer to being together. Mural provides a technology that enables participants to experience utilization of flipcharts and Post-it notes. Almost like the real thing. Some of our companies tried it and liked it while others decided to wait until they could come back together.
Beyond the pandemic, there has been racial unrest. TLG was able to create a series of services to support companies in their quest to address diversity, equity, and inclusion in their business and in their lives. Some of the services TLG developed include: DEI Coaching Certification (IDEA); DEI normed surveys, to assess the current state of an individual, team, or company; DEI Coaching; cultural assessment work; and unconscious bias training. Since we were already known as a leading company in the “culture” space, we were able to make the transition without a hitch.
We also took a PPP loan/grant to assure that we could retain all of our staff, which we have been able to do. Additionally, we have added a number of contractors to the team that have specific expertise that we saw would help us to better meet emerging needs of our clients in 2020 and beyond.
One of my personal challenges was how to be as effective working at home as I feel I am in the office. We are fortunate at the Mantella home for my wife (who is a published author) and I each have our own spaces and our kids are grown, so that made it easier than for those of you with young ones. Also, to be honest, I came back to the office as soon as feasible (practicing all social distancing/safety measures, of course). More importantly, I had to work hard to be a better communicator with staff working at home, Founders working at home, and some of us in the office. For, example, I saw that my communication by email was not succinct and people were misinterpreting my messages in some cases. To combat that I had many more phone and Zoom calls and also took more time with my emails.
Here is wishing you a Happy Holiday season. And, I would add that I can’t wait until 2020 is over and I hope to never see anything like this year again. Since the last major pandemic was in 1919, I feel like I might not be around one hundred years from now, so I am safe.