Don’t try to hide concerns
In uncertain times, managers may not have all the answers and that’s okay, Lobo said. Coworkers are savvy enough to detect false bravado.
“You just have to be authentic and transparent,” he said. “I’m an optimistic person by nature. So normally when I talk to employees, I tend to see the positive sides of things, but you don’t sugar-coat things, yet you have to be realistic about the challenges.”
Meanwhile, Stryker’s revenues were dropping as elective surgeries, such as hip and knee implants, were postponed and people avoided medical settings unless absolutely necessary. Second-quarter sales dropped by nearly 25%, a first for the company. Lobo told employees that Stryker would keep workers as long as possible, but he couldn’t guarantee cuts wouldn’t come because no one knew the duration of the pandemic.
Stryker ultimately furloughed an undisclosed number of employees, but Lobo said management adhered to the first priority of protecting employees. The company paid production workers through April even though there was no work. “We didn’t want them to have to go into the unemployment lines when that was a chance for them to contract the virus,” he said. Once furloughs were necessary, the company continue to provide healthcare benefits.
Stryker isn’t saying how many were furloughed, but a spokesperson says, “We’ve been focused on bringing employees back safely over the past several months. Our manufacturing employees are now back at work at almost all locations.”
Kaila Krum, managing director of Truist Securities, said Lobo made some “controversial and difficult” decisions early in the pandemic to control costs as revenues dropped. “But no one can argue against the fact that he’s executed against those decisions,” she said. “And the business under his leadership has held up really well during the pandemic.”