The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which provided relief to small businesses during the COVID-19 crisis, was implemented quickly and wound up most of its operations within two years. Whether you agree or disagree with the PPP as a lever to save American companies and avoid an economic collapse, one observation was undeniable - banks did heroics to help customers navigate a choppy PPP rollout, and their customers said widely felt the PPP loans saved their business. Here are some of my observations in retrospect:
Cross functional teams collaborated who had never worked together
New workflows were designed to orchestrate inflows of government communications that kept evolving and often contradicted prior instruction
Bankers helped business customers navigate (even fill out) forms to obtain funding
Employees never worked harder and never felt a greater sense of purpose
Customers expressed heartfelt gratitude for bankers who they viewed as heroes
I could not help but reflect on Pat Lencioni’s entertaining fable, Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars.
He suggests the antidote for organizational dysfunction described in his title: have a thematic goal - a single, qualitative focus that is shared by the entire leadership team – and ultimately, by the entire organization – that applies for only a specified time period. Essentially, a single rally cry. Sound like the PPP? I had a chance to lead three client roundtable cohorts of business customers in the DC metropolitan area in the midst of the lending and forgiveness process. Every customer who took a PPP loan overflowed with accolades and expressed deeper levels of loyalty as a result of their experience. Does it take a global crisis to get teams to work together?
Moreover, how does that translate to lessons for leaders? From a CX perspective the key lessons are:
Employees are highly motivated by their connection to the contribution they make
A single unified focus helps everyone gain clarity
Empathetic employees will always deliver better experiences
We are capable of a much higher level of execution than we think if we live out the first three lessons on this list.
I'm curious about what takeaways you observe from these lessons.