CEO Roundup: Enormous Challenges and Planning Ahead
Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home Interim CEO, Lindsay Fyffe-Jardine, shares another week at the Home and tells us how the thought of partially opening for rehoming has everyone excited.
Monday 11th May
While many of my counter parts in England will be waking up to an adjusting world this morning based on the Prime Ministers ‘conditional’ plan I am not. What’s clear is that there is very obviously a difference in approach emerging between the devolved nations and that of England and it makes the guessing game of when and what will lift and shift quite challenging. What I do know is that for the next few weeks we need to sit tight, watch what is happening for our southern counter parts and try and plan to our best ability for being able to partial open.
I’m holding another virtual team meeting this morning as I want to make sure that I have reassured the team that the regulations haven’t changed, and we must continue with the safe practices we have in place. What I also want to talk to them about are the enormous challenges facing the Home financially and that we will need to adjust ourselves to a new world that will not suddenly bounce back. It’s not news I want to be sitting and highlighting to anyone, but I feel the really positive response from the team on how they can help with fundraising and spreading word is exactly the articulation of the team spirit that I know we have. I know we’ll get through this standing together.
Tuesday 12th May
I do relish the element of peace I have on a day with my daughter. There’s nothing complicated that she needs, it’s just my attention. While she’s snuggling into me after some lunch, she tells me that she wants to go back to school and misses her friends. My brain and my heart blow out a little as I hadn’t expected this or her level of understanding of the changes to her daily life. I didn’t realise that she would feel that loss over seeing her friends as acutely as she clearly does. It makes me realise that while she isn’t unhappy or wanting in any way that there is an old life waiting out there, ready to resume in some adapted way from before, that she is longing for and I completely understand. She wants that interaction with someone other than us and I don’t blame her! I remind myself that a walk and some fresh air later on will at least keep her distracted….and I suppose that it will do the same for me too.
Wednesday 13th May
In a blink of an eye I’m catching up with the team again on progress and challenges across the past week and the relief over the furlough announcement is a talking point that is a moment to celebrate. While its challenging not having so many of our colleagues with us and we miss their interaction and engagement we’re also financially relieved it’s an extension of a lifeline that the Home so desperately needs. Lots of progress with not only the daily and weekly action that the Home needs to keep running behind the scenes but also thinking ahead in how we can best support the dogs and cats still coming to our doors each week in how to raise the vital funds to support their care and rehabilitation.
We’re in the build up to our next board meeting next week and so there are lots of catch up’s with trustees that I have this week into next. Its great to have this one on one time with them with me now CEO, I suppose its just not quite the first 100 days of being a CEO that I would have anticipated. But I know that I’m not alone on that with a number of new CEO’s joining their respective organisations this year.
Thursday 14th May
I always enjoy my team catch up’s and get so much energy from them and this morning I’m with my SMT. We talk through what support for the team we need to plan ahead for as we know people are worried and for those still working there’s huge pressure to do three roles in one and for those on furlough a feeling of being cut off from our mission and work. This is no easy balancing act and I don’t have a timeline to say when this will get easier as in reality the crisis financially is biting hard for us. We talk about our stripped back new budgets and what might not be possible this year if adjustments to restrictions aren’t made. A big part of our conversation is looking at mental health and wellbeing strategies for the team as we continue through this crisis. This will be a long-term impact and we want to try and mitigate this as much as possible while there will continue to be so much uncertainty both inside and outside of the organisation and probably long after some normality returns. We have such great enrichment systems set up for our dogs and cats and they are benefiting from these now more than ever because of the addition of peace and quiet. However, for the team that peace and quiet doesn’t necessary represent something positive and our feelings throughout this crisis will continue to evolve and be complex in need. I’m grateful at least that our dogs and cats are getting to put their paws up even if we’re not!
Friday 15th May
I’ve got more time set aside for trustee catch up’s today and its good to get that focused time on understanding their concerns and questions. I’m able to fill them in on how the team are (largely positive and hanging in there), how the animals are coping (fantastic, living pretty great lives right now) and what next steps we need to consider (a long list of what I know and don’t know mixed in with recommendations). Our trustees come from so many different backgrounds and sectors that its great to get a feel for their own experiences of this crisis and how its impacting on what they do in their day to day.
My head is spinning though from ‘zooming’ all day and I’m willing some fresh air with my daughter as a way to end the working week and attempt to switch off my brain (always a very poor effort in the end). I’m thinking ahead to how different this weekend will be for those of us in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland as opposed to those in England. I wonder what will come of how people will feel about this and what the newspaper headlines will be on Monday morning. In some ways our opening up of society in Scotland is based on what happens both within our country and outside of it so I’ll be tentatively waiting on what will come. I’m mostly itching to know because of all the plans that are forming for us to partially open and that will be a huge moment of celebration for the Home when it does. I can hardly contain my excitement at the idea of it but know we’re still weeks away from clarity. In the meantime, I’ll do my best to be more dog and cat and put my paws up for the weekend. Tune in next week to see what this crisis is throwing for us at the Home and how our team, dogs and cats are handling it.