The COVID-19 pandemic taught us that impactful leaders are able to use their skills to persevere through unforeseen changes and challenges, support their team and focus on the future of their businesses.
Leaders must always be prepared with the necessary skills to safeguard their employees and company during times of crisis. In the midst of the current pandemic, professionals with an MBA, who have learned the skills and acquired the knowledge necessary for effective crisis management, are proving to be valuable assets to the companies that hired them.
Learn more about why businesses value professionals with an MBA, how it transfers essential crisis management skills and the areas of expertise that prepare graduates to handle adversity in the workplace.
10 Crisis Management Skills Learned from an Online MBA
Crisis management is “the identification of threats to an organization and its stakeholders, and the methods used by the organization to deal with these threats.” The global pandemic forced business leaders to be agile and make intelligent strategic decisions with limited information about the probable future of the global economy.
Leaders are faced with creating crisis management plans, communicating with staff and protecting the financial health of the business. Many organizations are tasked with a risk analysis, where they predict the best and worst case scenarios and formulate a business continuity plan to increase the company’s future success despite external circumstances.
In times of crisis, businesses lean on professionals who have pragmatic crisis management skills of the type developed through an Online MBA program. MBA graduates learn pragmatic skills that can be applied in times of crisis. The following crisis management skills are taught to students in an Online MBA program and can support companies through uncertain times.
1. Develop Strategic Agility
How is it possible to train leaders to be ready for changes we cannot predict? The key is to teach professionals how to be strategically agile. In Yuval Noah Harari’s book 21 Lessons for the 21st Century he said, “Many pedagogical experts argue that schools should switch to teaching “the four C’s: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity” — all four integral to the Suffolk University Online MBA program.
He goes on to say, agility will be more important than ever before, “To survive and flourish in such a world, you will need a lot of mental flexibility and great reserves of emotional balance. You will have to repeatedly let go of some of what you know best and learn to feel at home in the unknown.”
MBA programs help improve your ability to think critically and strategically about issues that impact organizational performance and global business. The four C’s are among the core skills transferred to MBA graduates.
2. Use Analytical Reasoning
The act of analytical reasoning is the ability to detect patterns in information. Students in an MBA program learn how to effectively analyze information, discern patterns, draw conclusions and make confident decisions that can solve organizational challenges.
This form of complex problem solving can land online MBA graduates lucrative jobs for a number of reasons:
People with analytical reasoning skills are critical thinkers, meaning they do not accept problems at face value without further investigation.
They have advanced researching abilities.
They have evidence-based decision-making skills that create better business outcomes.
They tend to demonstrate attention to detail.
3. Manage Change
John F. Kennedy once said, “Change is the law of life, and those who look only to the past and present are certain to miss the future.” We can see evidence of the rapidly changing world all around us. In April 2020, the U.S. unemployment rate hit 14.7 percent and the country reported 20.5 million jobs gone due to the impact caused by coronavirus.
As technology grows increasingly complex, traditional methods of working and living start to bend under the weight of inevitable change. A successful leader must be agile and a professional at adapting to unforeseen challenges.
Real-world business challenges, marketplace changes and technologies will continue to accelerate in upcoming years. MBA graduates are taught how to prepare, plan and respond to these changes. Business leaders with MBAs are trained to manage change by doing the following:
Learn how to conduct a risk analysis for the business.
Create business continuity plans that map out a plan of action in response to various crisis situations.
Learn how to communicate with employees, customers and stakeholders to quell fears and uncertainty during periods of change.
Find evidence-based solutions that produce best outcomes for the business.
4. Gain Global Awareness
Companies are constantly looking for professionals that can communicate in a global business environment. No one economy operates in a vacuum; every country is dependent on others for important business relationships that dictate trade agreements, imports and exports, shared environmental concerns, manufacturing, supply and demand issues and more.
The internet has managed to shrink our once large world into a smaller, more highly connected global community. The coronavirus pandemic also taught business leaders and political leaders how the state of one country can have a ripple effect that influences the economy at large. Professionals with an MBA know how to use a greater perspective to address global business issues, including the following:
Interpret data to support international business plans
Ability to communicate and conduct business in diverse economic, legal, cultural, geographical and political circumstances internationally
Understand foreign government policies, programs, and agencies that affect trade agreements
Financial knowledge that extends to an international economic landscape
5. Improve Foundational Knowledge
The MBA helps students build their expertise in essential areas like communications, operations management, business law, economics, statistics and information technology. Creating a foundation of business knowledge can set up professionals for success.
Steve Mariotti, the founder of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) is an advocate for business professionals and entrepreneurs everywhere, he said:
“Every individual should learn how to start, finance, and manage a small business. This will give millions of people the skills necessary to make a livelihood, in case they have to leave a job or are unable to find one. It will also enable them to take advantage of a market insight and turn it into a business opportunity. Also, they will become better employees through understanding how business functions.”
Mariotti’s belief system emulates the age-old saying: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” When students learn the basics of business they have a set of skills that can create value for themselves and others.
Entrepreneurship requires basic business knowledge, creative ideas and the necessary bravery to take risks. These same attributes make people better employees and leaders. Graduates from MBA programs are taught all the foundational skills needed to contribute to an organization or create their own company and make a livelihood independently.
6. Handle Supply and Demand Issues
Mariotti comments on the importance of supply and demand in saying, “The law of supply and demand is the most important economic concept of all.” This is because the law of supply and demand is the theory that explains the relationship between sellers and buyers in the economy.
The coronavirus pandemic created several pressing supply and demand issues that skilled business leaders with an MBA can help resolve. In an article published by Politico, they discussed the effect the coronavirus had on different aspects of the economy, life and society:
“The coronavirus pandemic will create pressure on corporations to weigh the efficiency and costs/benefits of a globalized supply chain system against the robustness of a domestic-based supply chain. Switching to a more robust domestic supply chain would reduce dependence on an increasingly fractured global supply system. But while this would better ensure that people get the goods they need, this shift would likely also increase costs to corporations and consumers.”
MBA graduates learn how to manage supply and demand issues from a global perspective. This is a valuable asset for companies deciding how to manufacture and distribute goods in a post-pandemic world.
7. Protect Cash Flow With Financial Planning
Every company should have a financial plan in place that can protect cash flow in the face of an unforeseen crisis. The coronavirus pandemic has tested companies’ ability to engage in corporate financial planning.
In McKinsey & Company’s article, Planning for uncertainty: Performance management under COVID-19, they outlined five key steps to creating a financial plan:
Understand the company’s starting position;
Collect known facts and use these to develop a range of best and worst-case scenarios;
Align on a financial plan with the “direction of travel”;
Determine best next actions; and
identify the “trigger points” that will prompt the business to adjust and adapt forecasts and financial plans.
Every company has a different degree of risk-tolerance, however, a strong financial plan can increase risk-tolerance for vulnerable businesses. Graduates from an MBA program learn the ins and outs of financial planning that support companies during times of uncertainty.
8. Support Team Members
The communication and skills needed for crisis management differ from day-to-day employee management. MBA graduates learn how to effectively communicate with their team to report company updates, deliver difficult news and quell fears amid times of crisis, such as the coronavirus pandemic.
One of the most important ways a business leader and manager can make a positive impact during challenging times is by providing employee support. The Conversation outlined four ways companies can work to better support their team, including:
Provide more flexibility such as reduced hours, a compressed work week or even a leave of absence.
Encourage virtual social time that fosters team connections.
Provide adequate training for online collaboration.
Provide resources for healthy coping, such as mindfulness apps, workout videos, online counseling services and more.
The MBA teaches students how to manage a team effectively and produces excellent communicators who are able to connect with team members in times of crisis. Companies with trained leaders are better able to manage their team and use evidence-based techniques to maintain morale, productivity, and satisfaction in the workplace.
9. Address Safety Issues In the Workplace
When lives are at stake, it’s essential that leaders are thoughtful about every decision they make when managing their teams and organizations. Graduates from an MBA program are educated on the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and use these guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.
OSHA provides factual information about COVID-19 and helpful updates that instruct business leaders on how to keep their employees safe. OSHA offers the following:
Guidance on preparing the workplace for COVID-19
Worker exposure risk to COVID-19
Guidance for handling COVID-19 in specific industries (pharmacies, ride shares, dental offices, etc.)
Enforcement guidance for handling COVID-19-related complaints, recorded cases, mask shortages, decontamination protocols and more
Beyond COVID-19, leaders with an MBA learn how to optimize health and safety in the workplace. Workplace safety is maintained when leaders understand the laws and regulations surrounding worker rights, the requirements for creating a safe workplace and the industry-specific training requirements needed to keep employees safe.
10. Optimize Remote Communication
The final skill that MBA graduates can use to help businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond is the ability to communicate with employees remotely. More people are working from home, and more people have the desire to continue working from home.
According to Global Workplace Analytics, “in the U.S., 4.7 million employees (3.4% of the workforce) work from home at least half the week” and according to a report conducted by Buffer, “99% of people would choose to work remotely, at least part-time, for the rest of their careers.”
The coronavirus pandemic forced non-essential services to regroup online and manage their employees from remote locations to encourage social distancing. However, this temporary time of mass remote communication may have changed the way employees view the office forever.
Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey, announced that Twitter will now allow their employees to work from home “forever”. Dorsey stated, “The past few months have proven we can make that work. So if our employees are in a role and situation that enables them to work from home and they want to continue to do so forever, we will make that happen.”
If working from home is the future of many companies, an MBA graduate is an essential business leader for tomorrow due to their knowledge in remote communication. MBA graduates understand how to engage, manage and inspire their team from a distance. As a result, companies will be able to fulfill their employees’ desires to work from home part-time or full-time and increase productivity and workplace satisfaction.
Why Businesses Hire MBA Candidates
An MBA used to be considered auxiliary education that would spruce up an applicant's resume, however, many industries now expect or even require professionals to enter leadership positions with an MBA. Consumer marketing, corporate finance and commercial banking are only a few of the most common industries that frequently require new hires to have an MBA. As a result, the MBA is currently the most popular professional degree program in the world.
When faced with the choice between hiring a professional with an undergraduate degree versus a professional with an MBA degree, an employer may value the following things about the MBA holder:
MBA graduates learn hands-on skills that translate well to the workplace.
They are trained in leadership and management techniques.
They have a business-oriented mindset that serves companies well.
They are educated on current issues and real challenges in business.
They are more likely to have individualized knowledge about the industry due to the MBA programs’ specific concentrations (ex. finance, biotech, technology, start-up and healthcare industries, etc.).
Boost Your Career with an Online MBA from Suffolk University
Suffolk University was built in Boston and built for business. Students make Boston’s business world their own personal classroom. You become a consultant on Day 1 when you work with Boston-based business leaders who instruct live workshops through an online medium and transfer essential hands-on skills that make you exceptionally well-prepared for the modern business world. Suffolk has worked with companies like Facebook, Google, Bank of America and CVS. Through this process, you learn precisely the skills outlined above — real time.
When you join Suffolk’s MBA Online program, you join a diverse, inclusive culture, a vast network of over 80,000 alumni that opens doors for mentorship relationships, networking events and lucrative career opportunities. More than 22 percent of Suffolk students are international, creating an opportunity to work in teams with various viewpoints, ideas and approaches.
The Online MBA program has been in existence for more than two decades, and it’s highly flexible and customizable. You can elect tailored concentrations to become an industry expert, whether that’s in accounting principles, finance, health sector management, or business intelligence. In addition, you’ll work with full-time, seasoned professionals who are not only business consultants but experts in the online teaching platform.
Suffolk’s Online MBA program is untraditional, on purpose. This is not a textbook learning experience, but an innovative program where you’ll develop global connections and immerse yourself in the business world. Become the idea generator and leader you want to be.
Boost your career with an MBA online from Suffolk University.