Locked down, but not out...

boxing gloves on the dark background

It’s been over 2 months since lockdown was introduced, and during this time we’ve all had to adjust and adapt to circumstances that we never thought we‘d be facing. Outlooks have changed, plans have shifted, and behaviours have had to evolve… But the daily challenges also bring with them positive opportunities, bright moments, and encouraging learnings. So here are 10 things that I have learnt during lockdown; some will no doubt ring true, whilst others will hopefully inspire a little food for thought.  


People First

‘Doing the right thing’ is how we operate and this is never more important than when dealing with people. People are what really matters, whether it be colleagues, partners or suppliers. Putting ourselves in the shoes of others and showing empathy counts for an awful lot, be that speaking as we’d like to be spoken to or standing by someone when they have hit a low, which is particularly top of mind as we come to the end of Mental Health Awareness Week. Although we are all different, it is the way we bond together and practice our values that builds trust and helps get through tougher times. Behaving in a people first way has meant we have probably all developed closer relationships with our partners and suppliers – further evidence of the importance of shared values.

Don’t panic

Short-termism is not the way out of this. Those around you may be looking to you for a way through this and will pick up on your cues. Don’t underestimate the impact your mood or reaction can have. If you are calm, measured, consistent and upbeat that’s not only reassuring, it’s contagious.

Our colleagues are our greatest source of strength – we must all support each other

A crisis like the one we are experiencing is a great leveller; we are all in this together to deliver the best possible outcomes for our client partners, so we should all be prepared to muck in and roll our sleeves up whether that means taking on a new type of project or doing more of the necessary admin. 

You can’t communicate too much

Not everyone is Zoomtastic, so you may need to check in with them another way. We have run daily company wide video calls, just 10 mins of different perspectives, updates and observations to keep us all plugged in. I also have a daily morning check in call my Board colleagues. It is a warts and all chat and reassures me how well placed to support our colleagues and our partners we are, despite the circumstances we are operating under. That’s become a precious moment we will make sure lives beyond lockdown.

Be open and regularly share performance updates

 We have always valued the importance of being inclusive, especially when it comes to how we are doing. It has felt right to increase the frequency of sharing top line commercial performance with you when things are as dynamic as they are; being candid in the good times is one thing, but it’s even more important when the waters get choppy. We all have a role to play in contributing to our growth journey, so we need to be clear about what our top down goals are so you know how to help get us there.

Celebrate great behaviour, but don’t ignore the bad

This a natural part of the everyday at Medialab. The physical distance created by lockdown has only highlighted the importance of recognising and praising the great work being done at kitchen tables, in bedrooms (!), perhaps even in the garden, but remember to be honest, this is not a time to let our standards slip.

Everyone is different so you may need to alter your style

We are all experiencing different up and downs, challenges and positives and reacting and coping differently to those. Be intuitive, take time to really listen, just the pitch of someone’s voice might tell you that it’s a bad time to talk right now. Adapt, give options and be open to new ways of working so people don’t feel unheard or restricted. Zoom isn’t for everyone!

Discussion and debate is healthy, confident and decisive decision making is critical

I’m a big believer in surrounding yourself with smart people who think differently to you. There’s more than one way to slice an onion and we are in the throes of scenario planning for almost all our clients in ever changing circumstances that are beyond our control. Varied and informed perspectives help you make assumptions when you don’t have all the answers is invaluable when you need to make fast, often difficult decisions with confidence.

We are here because of our client partners

The past 8 weeks will have highlighted for everyone the importance of relationships built on trust and insight. Our clients are relying on us and leaning on us more than ever before. You have never needed an excuse to make a difference to a client. Lockdown has proved that and more –  the value of true partners in it for the long run.

Culture beats strategy every time

You are what you are. We are who we are. Lockdown has exposed organisations that did not have a deep rooted culture and caused chaos and flux. For many it has been a time of introspection, highlighting the absence of culture and the need to develop one. This is a tough time to have to create a culture from scratch. Thankfully for us this period has only shone a light on how natural and authentic our culture is. Our teams have all given us daily examples of it living and breathing from their media update posts, exercise clubs, pet groups, cooking and crochet tips to the brilliant work they you have done reinventing plans for clients in a heartbeat. To team Medialab, thank you.  It never goes unnoticed and It’s very much appreciated.

Poet Yahia Lababidi on the power of listening:

“A good listener is one who helps us overhear ourselves”

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