Article: Imperatives for the top team during and after COVID-19

Life @ Work

Imperatives for the top team during and after COVID-19

People across the rank and cadre of the organization are grappling with this new normal. Some are taking this new normal and working to expand the successes. Some are looking at the new normal and saying this too shall pass.
Imperatives for the top team during and after COVID-19

It’s out there, the world has changed. Its virtual, it’s digitally dependent and it is truly distributed. Before the crisis hit us, the slogan was ‘Digital is here to stay, and it will change the way you live’. Just over a quarter later, if anything is contributing significantly to running our lives, it is Digital, and yes, social distancing.

People across the rank and cadre of the organization are grappling with this new normal. Some are taking this new normal and working to expand the successes. Some are looking at the new normal and saying this too shall pass. Yet others are the ‘Resistance’ and are working to preserve everything, they think needs to be retained about the way ‘we used to work’. The scenario is like any other change management.

In a recent article called ‘The toughest leadership test’ McKinsey called-out that: 

  • “CEO micro habits can help leaders seize the moment, stay ahead, and take care of themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
  • In my own work over the last 3 months, with Senior Leaders I have discovered that:
  • Over 70% felt their ability to respond during this crisis has been severely impacted.
  • Over 50% felt that they need an expert’s help to revive the performance of the organization.

Such are the diverse implications of this period and whatever we are experiencing. Based on several deep conversations and coaching sessions with business leaders and owners from across the globe, here are a few directional considerations: 

  • Imperatives for Strategy, Structure, Alignment and Behaviour need a consideration
  • The future organization will emerge out of the learning lessons from this crisis
  • This crisis has also exposed the development areas of organizations and teams
  • If we do not rebuild our organizational fabric with such a pressing cause, we possibly never will

The Strategy Imperative… 

Survival, Revival and Reshaping…Strategy will depend on these Decisions and related behaviours. These will soon become the themes for organizations. For some it already has. Getting out of this period will need lots of interlinked, sequential and parallel decisions on the go. The best way to move forward for some time at least now, is to keep making strategic decisions to respond to emerging market dynamics. And remember these can absolutely be the x steps forward, y steps back kind of decisions; just do and learn. Give yourself the permission to learn, experiment, fail and survive. Industries which are down will not necessarily revive in the same sequence as they went down. Travel has resumes today, WFH still stays. Keep your eye on your industry trends and make decisions, that’s the first imperative.

The Structure Imperative…

Keep your eyes on the road ahead and dismantle and assemble a purposeful structure. For all the strategic decisions needed in these times, rapidly learn to evolve a fast responding structure. The traditional hierarchical ways will only make things difficult in the next 12 – 18 months at least. Small and self-contained teams are overly critical in these times. So are a multitude of special purpose task forces. Both can pay attention to critical emerging requirements in their own ways. Manufacturing may need to develop new products; services may need to develop new ways of delivery and consulting may need to find newer ways to maintain customer engagement. Every organization will have a challenge and our structures need to be shaped. Retain some of the old structure – that is meaningful. But start evolving a part of your organization fast into fluid work force or whatever else it may be. This is also the best time to engage with highly qualified and experienced Gig workers brought to handle special missions. Structuring working relationships for effective outcomes is the new structuring philosophy. 

The Alignment Imperative…

Selectiveness is effectiveness…and that’s one big way to keep people aligned. Do what is critical and cut the waste. Whatever that needs to be attempted for the next 12 – 18 months must consider the virtual working as a key variable. This crisis hasn’t passed, and a second wave is being predicted. So, build alignment through Selectiveness. Do not clutter people’s mind and schedule. This is the time to focus on quality. This is not just about less is more. It is about Right is Bright. And what is bright is good for sight, and keeping people focused on what it is to be in line. (Phew…too poetic)

The Behavioral Imperative…

Trustworthy environments and trusting relationships nurture the brain and our neurological responses. Trust is going to be a game changer in everything that you do going forward. Time after again, I have heard from my business community and clients that trust is at an all-time low. It is a time when a significant chunk of people are overly worried about themselves and their future. Neurologically, these are times when the Brain is not getting the best of inputs. So, creating an environment of openness, and fairness is extremely critical to foster trust. Watch everything around you and do everything possible to create trust.

And as this unfolds…

Two things will emerge. The future of our organization and the future organization – both will emerge from this work. 

A good number of leaders are realizing this, and I agree that the current crisis has thrown open those areas we didn’t focus on earlier. From Strategy, to Talent to Tech the evidence has been in the open. One of the biggest strategic failures of almost all industries was the failure to sees this coming between Nov 19 to Feb 20. What are your organizations failures that got exposed? How will you repair your organizational systems?

It’s also true that as we work for our organization to survive, we will also have to go to work upon our organizations to make them far more agile, nimble and purposeful. One question to ask will be – what are the ways of working that we can totally let go off? Some organizations are thinking of saving millions by not having several office spaces. Others have already begun consolidating perks and pay-outs. Yet others are deciding to go digital on everything from sales to inventory management. Still others are starting ambitious reskilling programs. What old ways of working will your organization let go? 

As we all join hands one way or the other to step forward, the future will be here soon. In this journey, this is also an opportunity. a time when we can make several critical changes. Our opportunity is to create an organisational climate that achieves every strategic objective. 

Today, we have the pressing need to shape-up and survive. Let’s make use of this motivation. 

Today, there is a collective will to adapt and survive. Let’s make good use of this resolve. 


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Topics: Life @ Work, #GuestArticle, #TheNewNormal, #COVID-19

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