4 Microsoft 365 Lessons for Executive Leaders During COVID-19

Post Date: 04/02/2020
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During the COVID-19 outbreak, times are uncertain and people are looking towards leadership for guidance and reassurance. This is a key, but often overlooked, pillar of business continuity.

To be a strong, proactive leader you need access to timely information, strong communication channels, and the ability to make quick decisions.

Reflecting over the last few weeks, here are four lessons I have learned during the COVID-19 crisis on how executive leaders can be agile using the tools at our disposal in Microsoft 365.

Increase Leadership Communication

Before COVID-19, our Senior Leadership Team from around the world would meet in-person monthly.

Currently, executive leaders do not have the luxury of in-person meetings with their senior teams. At the same time, the pace of change is more rapid than ever. If you haven’t already changed your senior leadership meeting cadence, I suggest you do so.

Since late January, our SLT meets remotely with Microsoft Teams twice a week to review the latest updates, personnel statuses, and make business decisions.

COVID-19 Leadership Update on Yammer

Don’t Let the Perfect Get in the Way of the Good

In the past, it was important to have strong production values when broadcasting town halls to the company. It enhanced clarity and set an overall brand standard of quality. Typically, the larger the company, the more resources it can devote to internal media production.

For AvePoint, we normally enlist our creative team for our quarterly town halls. This includes a crew with sophisticated video and audio equipment. However, during these times of immediate change, these resources are not readily available.

Rather than wait to mimic our standard setup for townhalls, I have been broadcasting them using easily accessible consumer technology. For our recent town hall, we utilized Microsoft Team’s live events and broadcast simply with a laptop camera and Bluetooth mic. I flipped through the PowerPoint deck myself with a simple handheld remote.

Production quality is still important, but don’t let it get in the way of proactively communicating with your company. They need to hear from you, so don’t let the perfect get in the way of the good.

Town Hall Set Up to Address COVID-19 Town Hall Set Up to Address COVID-19

Self-Service Is Critical for Agility

Executive leaders all want as much information as possible to inform their decisions. As a result, many organizations have teams of people analyzing and putting together presentations for data-driven decision making.

When markets are constantly changing, this should be supplemented with live dashboards across all operational areas of the company. At AvePoint, the senior leadership team uses PowerBI and live data for financial modeling and analysis. With this self-access, we can model different scenarios anytime from anywhere.

Microsoft 365 also enables the leadership team to collaborate and co-author on documents instead of using email attachments. This may seem like a basic point, but it allows us to work in parallel, which is a game-changer.

Finally, all communication processes have moved online, frequently into Microsoft Teams. The platform has seen a surge in usage and especially Team creation. The ability to automate the provisioning, management, and lifecycle of these Teams with Cloud Governance gives employees the ability to spin up workspaces quickly without sacrificing security or control.

MyHub Cloud Governance Application in Microsoft Teams

At the End of the Day, It’s About You

People are worried, stressed, and uncertain about the future. It is important to realize that because of COVID-19 the environment you are doing business in has changed not only for your customers but for your employees as well. As such, leaders need to both set the tone and take some extra time to do personal one-on-one check-ins.

With Microsoft 365 in place, you can help alleviate the operational aspect of communication so you can focus your time and energy on the people in your organization. In my case, I used this time to personally call our employees around our global offices to see how they are doing and to take a pulse of the sentiments across our organization. These actions can demonstrate proactive leadership with a personal touch, which is especially important in these highly uncertain and disruptive times.

This is the critical moment for leadership to step up. Encourage and support your colleagues and embrace your culture to make this happen.

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Dr. Tianyi Jiang (TJ) co-founded AvePoint in 2001 and has served as the organization's Chief Executive Officer since 2005. TJ is responsible for overall strategy and direction of AvePoint, which includes product innovation, investor relations, and business development. He is focused on delivering value to customers, partners, shareholders, and the AvePoint team, every day. A recipient of Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award in New Jersey in 2010, TJ received both B.S. and master’s in electrical and computer engineering from Cornell University, and a Master of Philosophy and PhD in Data Mining from Department of Information Systems, Operations Management, and Statistics, Stern School of Business, New York University.

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