Managing through the COVID-19 Crisis: An Institutional Leaders ACTION GUIDE
Everyone is asking – how do we best proceed given our unprecedented situation? From our collective discussions, we would like to share eight actionable steps for leaders to consider as we navigate through these challenging times:
1. Do Plan. Do NOT Panic.
Now is the time to work closely with your Board, drawing on members’ diverse skill sets and
experiences to strategize and develop specific contingency plans based on different scenarios and
2. Commit to your Staff.
Your employees are the foundation of everything you do, and they need as much support and
reassurance as possible right now. Communicate with them regularly, providing as much information
and clarity as possible.
3. Be Proactive, Not Reactive.
Focus now on developing guidelines/policies/procedures that City/County/State and health officials
will endorse relative to maintaining open hours and/or re-opening as soon as possible. Ensure that
you are prepared to be among the first public venues ready to welcome visitors with safe and sound
4. Be Adaptive, Creative and Flexible.
Knowing that the situation keeps changing, be ready for what’s next by engaging your staff in open
discussions about what’s possible – virtual tours, live podcast keeper talks, webcams or other
opportunities to connect with your community (e.g., Houston Zoo with goats and the Shedd aquarium
with penguins). Consider using resources you already have - for example, traveling zoo/keeper
experiences – and adjusting them to the present situation. For example, if you are the leader of a
zoo or aquarium, consider arranging for pop-up, no-contact animal experiences in community parks or
supermarket parking lots where people can feel hopeful and share in some fun through real and
virtual animal experiences and keeper chats.
5. Hold Steady to Your Mission.
Resist the temptation to start slashing costs through “budget cut fire drills” and “value-
engineering” your mission by targeting seemingly “expendable” expenses like conservation programs.
Budget adjustments will likely be required, but do not rush into decisions based on fear and
uncertainty; allow some breathing room for a more measured and long-view approach.
WE WILL RECOVER FROM THESE CHALLENGES!
Determine the best ways to reach out to your community, focus your messaging and position your
organization to welcome guests and engage your community as conditions allow.
7. Invite Partners to Help.
Reach out to loyal friends, trusted supporters and local/regional corporate partners to support and
help develop socially responsible initiatives to uplift the community, whether by ensuring safe
opening conditions or developing outreach activities such as those listed above. Local
pharmaceutical companies or health care providers may be equipped to offer professional expertise,
access to information or even to establish a virus testing station at your organization as a
8. Support Each Other.
We are all in this together, so be generous with your colleagues in sharing what’s working for you.
Feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with
deas, questions or comments. We’re here to help.