The Pandemic Taught Me to be Flexible and Focus on People

Our people are the foundation of our company and the heart of everything we do. And while I’ve always had a people-first mindset, I knew I needed to put our people first during the pandemic and show them they are top of mind in every decision we make.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I knew there were some difficult decisions to be made that would impact our people. Like many other companies, we ultimately had to furlough some team members. But my strategy early on was to figure out how to keep the most people we could. After many long nights of strategizing and going through every possible scenario, I’m proud to say I was able to find a way to keep all HQ team members, or bring them back in a matter of weeks. During such a difficult time, I recognized that it was vital to try to keep or bring back as many of our people as possible in order to keep morale high, minimize disruption and fear, and allow us to continue to grow the brand, while other companies were at a standstill or were furloughing masses of people.

The pandemic caused me to adapt to a new “normal” and, as a result, every day I make my best effort to be flexible and prepared to wear a different hat in order to figure out what is best for Torchy’s and our people.

During this last year I learned an important lesson: simplicity is key and the focus should always be what makes a difference to the person I am talking to in that moment, while knowing that I have to balance what’s best for the entire company. This is a hard lesson to learn because making a decision to be present is a hard skill to master in a time when so much was unknown. But in those difficult times, people want to be heard, be helped, and be given the support they need to feel confident in the role they are given in support our overall mission.

Now, having endured a global pandemic, I am confident more than ever that if our brand was able to survive this, we can get through anything. While my job is constantly requiring me to navigate difficult situations, I handle them with more assurance than before, knowing that in the midst of challenging times, people are looking to leaders to show compassion and support. It has been and will continue to be very important to me that I offer our people these things and resonate with every member of the team, even as we move forward into a new post-pandemic world.