If I had to choose one word to describe 2020, it would be Disruptive. The nature of a disruption does give us an opportunity for at least one thing – Change. Earlier this spring, the word we kept hearing is pivot: the need to shift our focus, products, delivery methods, finances, even how, where and when we were working. That agility was necessary and effective, but is it a long-term strategy?
COVID-19 has proven that, while we don’t like it, we can change. The disruption we have experienced is an opportunity to evaluate our businesses and processes, then make changes that will allow for future growth and stability.
1. The first step is to assess needed changes and determine priorities. How significant is the issue now, and will it continue to be significant? Has the pandemic made an issue more or less urgent? Something that was important in early March may still need to be addressed; however, it may be able to wait. An example might be restructuring an incentive plan. A significant problem which has amplified during the pandemic should be considered Important and Urgent and needs to be addressed now. An example here would be having remote work and flexible scheduling policies that will dictate treating employees fairly and consistently.
2. Now that you know what, address the how. Effective change management involves stellar communication and leadership. Clearly explain the need, the vision, and the process for the changes. Involve the stakeholders to get their input and buy-in. You can always expect some resistance to change, so be prepared to address concerns.
3. As the process continues, evaluate how things are going and the impact of the changes. Celebrate the wins and correct the missteps in a timely manner. Your willingness to change and timeliness in addressing problems will set the tone for the entire organization.
Disruption allows forward-thinking leaders to seize the opportunity for improvements. Focusing on important and urgent issues together with clear communication will result in an organization that may be different than it was several months ago, yet it will be stronger and ready for growth.