The Covid-19 pandemic has presented business owners with the ultimate test of management and leadership.
It’s been an unprecedented upheaval and an incredibly stressful time, and no matter what sector you operate in, you will have had to make changes.
Whether they are changes to your structure, operations, or service, the value of solid management and leadership is being demonstrated every day.
Here are a few things we recommend you do to maintain careful management of change in your organisation.
1. Make sure you have a plan
For your sake and the businesses, you need to take some time to step away from your operations and think about what your strategy is.
In the early weeks and months of the crisis, it’s more than likely you would have been at the coalface battling the Covid storm. But as the dust starts to settle, you need to decide on a strategy and a plan for the future.
Do you need to pivot your offer to new markets in a new business landscape? Do you need to stop certain functions or services that no longer make money? Does your team need to be restructured – have employees taken on new responsibilities that need to be recognised?
All of these questions need answering.
This is also an excellent time to reflect on how you dealt with how the pandemic impacted your business and how you reacted. For example, did you have a business continuity plan to make sure you kept operation in the event of a disaster? Was there a crisis comms plan in place? These documents might seem unnecessary, but they give your business a game plan to follow if the worst was to happen.
2. Make sure your communications are fit for purpose
You will likely have switched to some degree of remote working, which will have almost certainly impacted your internal and external communications.
Set a framework for your teams to work to know when they need to communicate and how they need to do it.
If you are used to having a chat in the canteen or have an ‘open door’ policy. You need to replace that with a suitable remote alternative – don’t underestimate how a feeling of isolation might affect your team and you.
The same goes with how you communicate with your customers – if they need to communicate with you differently, make sure they are clear on how.
3. Stay on top of your tech
You might not have heard of Zoom before March and may now consider yourself an expert, but it’s crucial to stay abreast of the other tools at your fingertips that can make your business more efficient.
Invest time in continuously taking advantage of collaborative tools that help your organisation work more efficiently – and make sure the channels are open for staff to make suggestions.
Be aware that not only will these tools help your organisation communicate effectively, it is also an investment in your productivity.
4. Have downtime
The well-documented danger of remote working is drifting into a poor work/life balance. Just because you choose to answer emails at 9 pm and take an hour off at 4 pm doesn’t mean your staff won’t feel pressurised by requests after traditional hours. If you need to send comms late, ensure your team knows you don’t expect them to deliver the actions the moment their inbox pings.
5. Create new systems
New processes and technology mean new systems for how you do things. Make sure your organisational chart and daily processes reflect that – document how things are now done so that your staff feels confident in what they need to do.
If possible, build in time to review these regularly and time for coaching and train your people in how they need to work now – this will help drive change in your organisation if your employees buy into what you are trying to do at an early stage.
6. Embrace change
Once you start down the path of change – either because it’s planned or forced by circumstance – you need to commit to that change.
By all means, plan in time for elasticity – you need space to guide your organisation through change, don’t expect it to happen overnight.
But the overarching theme needs to be to commit to that change. Resist the urge to snap back to ‘how things were.’ Things are not like they were for a reason – change is necessary to adapt the business to new markets and new ways of working. If any part of your business doesn’t commit to this, it can make life very difficult.