The world changed. Organizations were dropped into the deep end, and no one had time to put their life jackets on. Has there been a time inrecent past when organizations and people have needed to deal with this much uncertainty? Once we’ve come out of COVID-19 pandemia or adapted to the situation, the world will not be the same as it was before.
With one or few weeks of remote work behind us, we’ve now learned how it’s done and people have built new routines and learnt how to balance the days. Organizations have been on a steep learning curve. They’ve re-organized work, adopted remote working tools and practices at a rapid pace, found ways to support their employees, and many have had to drastically modify their operations to secure their existence. Now it’s time to keep the business running, and to execute. Organizations also need to start planning ahead and start adapting to possibly changed customer demands and operating environment.
1. Customer understanding is once again the key
Do you already know how your customer’s business is impacted in the short and long term? Do you know if the previous demand is still there? Might the customer want you to serve them differently going forward? Restrictions and social distancing are causing huge impacts; we’ve already seen new services emerge and face-to-face services transform online. Some companies are manufacturing completely different products as usually (e.g. hand sanitizers instead of perfume). Perhaps everyone will love remote schools and getting food delivered to their doorsteps. Perhaps online yoga classes become a norm. Perhaps better business is found in new places?
Some services and products have not been available. Perhaps organizations have discovered, that they don’t need all of them after all. As further automation will take place, certain services may become redundant. The actions that were forced upon us may become the prioritized choice. Supply chains are impacted immensely. There are big and small roadblocks and delays here and there which cause a lot of inefficiency. These cascade to production facilities, distributors and merchants. Your customer is very likely preparing for financial challenges and some might even be struggling for existence. Do you know what your customers need now, and in the future and how they want it? Make sure you plan ahead for this and think about your customer strategies.
2. How do you maintain momentum
Leaders and managers are now faced with a whole array of (new) challenges. I foresee many teams losing their efficiency and new risks emerging and realizing. How to ensure everyone is still doing things, and that they are the right things? Set routines and practices for meetings and information sharing. Both are needed at more frequent intervals as you are targeting both work organizing and people leadership.
Do you know how your people are really doing? For many, workplace can be the place where you go and leave personal life behind for a while. Now they can’t do that. Furthermore, you worry about your loved ones and community at large. Employees maybe fear for their jobs – and their family members’ jobs. They also need to worry about their children’s care and education. Individuals are dealing with a lot.
How does a manager know if his/her team is still heading towards the same goal? Take time to ensure that the vision and targets clear to everyone and are they remembered. Try to understand whether “alternate truths” are born in discussion tracks and correct if wrong. It is good to understand that individuals may create their own truths as they are stuck in their own bubble and exposed to messaging from more and less reliable sources. Consider also, that as they seek to mitigate their uncertainty and search for information, what do they find.
Leaders need to consider how to increase transparency, create trust and reinforce direction. In the time of less physical structures we need even more interactional practices.
3. Revisit your plans
Do you agree with me that the world and operating environments will permanently change; either a little or a lot? If yes, it is time organizations revisit their strategies and plans. Let’s use the time we may now have in our hands and prepare for the future.
Build the starting blocks and get ready to run when you hear the start pistol. Virtual workshops work wonders and actually enable people to focus even more than in face to face meetings. When executed with skill, great results can be achieved.
Get your team together e.g. for scenario planning, customer insights, team strategies and visions, account strategies and action plans. Not only will this create clarity and direction, it also brings people together and creates a sense of community and commitment.
How do we come out as winners? Could the key ingredients be: positive mindset and drive, good leadership and forward-looking approach? What do you think? Stay tuned for further deep dives into the above mentioned and related topics by Gofore’s specialists!
Head of Business, Industry