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David Forman Lays out a COVID-19 Playbook for PBJ Thought Leadership Podcast
Tonkon Torp partner David Forman was the featured guest for the May 7 episode of the Portland Business Journal’s Thought Leadership Podcast. The episode lays out a CEO playbook for navigating a thoughtful COVID-19 response.
After a check-in on activity in the M&A pipeline, David dove into looking at the diverse challenges and opportunities facing the C-suite. He shared that in these unique times, a company’s survival formula relies on having a CEO who is able to quickly move from observing the landscape to implementing actions, as often as is needed. And while he sees immense values in sharing an assessment and plans with the board of directors and investors, now is the time for executives to trust their instincts and their team and not get bogged down in process.
David stressed that executives can create plans that will help a company survive while also preserving culture and employee morale. But if an executive knows layoffs are inevitable, sometimes it helps morale for those who will stay if a business implements a larger one-time layoff rather than multiple incremental layoffs. David also encourages executives to look at mitigating the impact on employees by taking a deeper pay cut than rank and file employees, and by using equity awards for those non-executives who will take a pay cut. This strategy, coupled with abundant communication, can reduce ongoing stress and ultimately shorten the amount of time overall that employees are out of the workplace.
David also provided insight into why this is a time for business leaders to pivot rather than start over. A pivot allows executives to rely on their base business plan while finding and pursuing opportunities during the pandemic, in the immediate recovery, and for several years beyond.