COVID-19 has been with us over 6 months and we now have one full quarter of pandemic business results and a sense of what is ahead of us. One thing is certain, COVID has changed how we as individuals and businesses interact with the world.
In “The Great Reset,” (Globe and Mail, Saturday July 25, 2020), Matt Lundy wrote “COVID-19 pandemic is both transforming and eliminating jobs due to weak demand as business shut down during the early stages of the pandemic.” In a blog I posted in June, I suggested that this crisis provides organizations with opportunities to look at their systems and processes with a critical eye as to how we will manage in the future. This analysis should inform the organization on how to approach a return to the “new normal” and apply what we have learned from this crisis locally and including lessons learned from around the world as other countries emerge from their lockdowns.
Apparently, I was barking up the right tree as the Economist’s “Global Business Barometer” has indicated that the pandemic has improved operational agility and increased the speed of innovation changing how businesses operate in response to the virus. Finally, according to research by McKinsey on corporate resilience “companies that move early in a crisis to get a jump on competitors often maintain that lead for years to come. As was the case in getting the virus under control, time is of the essence, requiring corporate leaders to take action now.”
These challenges and opportunities leads to the question:
Is your business organized to perform succeed and thrive in the COVID world?
If you are not sure here are three 3 simple questions to ask yourself that will help you ensure you are prepared to thrive today and into the future:
- Is my organization aligned to address the issues and take advantage of the opportunities COVID presents?
Harvesting the opportunities from advancing digital plans and improvement projects and streamlining operating practices will allow you to the reset the business for the foreseeable future. This reset may mean fewer people are required or that the work itself has changed but cutting jobs and reassigning staff does not constitute effective organization design. Effective organizations are designed to align to the strategy and business plan and ensure that the work structure:
- Is aligned to support the innovation
- Is organized to ensure that every role provides value
- Supports delivery of the business plan and longer-term growth
Investing time to test the organization is aligned to the strategy ensures there are few missteps and reduces ramp up time.
- Do we have the right people in the right roles?
Even when the work is well designed and the structure is clear, another impediment to success is the ineffective matching of people to work. The first stop for talent is within your organization. Dedicated people, already aligned to the vision, mission and culture may have the skills required in this new world. To deliver results, managers need to first get clear about the work, and then select people whose capability and interests match the defined work. In selecting people for these new roles, managers should ask the question, “does this person have the skills and competencies to do the work, and if not, can they acquire them in a reasonable time frame?” If there are no internal candidates who fit this picture only then is it time to look outside of the organization. Take the time to know the talent in your organization and select the right people for the work.
- Have we done our work to ensure our people are successful?
When reorganizing in these difficult times it is important to remember that setting your people up for success sets the organization up for success. Hitting the ground running requires management to invest in activities upfront which will shorten the ramp up time for the new way to work. It means bringing people (virtually) together to ensure everyone understands their role and the new way of working including:
- The work and outputs of managers, and peers and where and when they need to work together
- Work relationships and critical handoffs between roles
- OKR’s (objectives and key results)
Bringing teams together to establish new ways of working provides the following benefits:
- Everyone is clear on their deliverables and outcomes, including who gets to decide what
- All team members understand how and when they need to work together as a full team or in subsets
- Surfaces issues that design teams or management have not thought of and provides a forum to resolve these issues
By clarifying roles and work, you build effective teams and the forming, storming and norming takes place as the work gets clarified!
COVID-19 has required all businesses to innovate and adapt. Investing in your organization and your people will ensure that you hit the ground running and enable you to move from “survive” to “thrive.”