Over the last few months, none of us have been operating as usual. Swift action has taken place in all parts of every business. Actions that typically would take months of reviews and decision making have been done in weeks, days and hours. In trying times, we bypass the strict regimen of decision making and discard many of the minor concerns that get in the way of quick decision making. That is possible because business teams have a sense of urgency that does not usually exist.
As shown in the graph to the right, significant financial and emotional events cause everyone to be willing to more fully embrace change, creating a fertile change management environment. When the future of a company or personal safety is at stake, we immediately forget the reasons we would not do something different. Personal and professional examples are all around us.
The majority of executives I talk to believe they will not be doing things the same way when the economy recovers. One example is that B2B and B2C eCommerce is up over 50%. While these levels may not be sustained as bricks and mortar retailers open back up, eCommerce buying habits will not go back to pre-COVID levels. Companies that cut their eCommerce marketing budgets during the pandemic have learned a hard lesson as they have seen eCommerce sales struggle. Another example is work from home. Every business is evaluating how effective this has been and are working on ways to bring less people back to the office providing opportunities to cut costs and improve the work life balance for their employees.
Studies suggest that companies who are innovative and transformative will perform 15-20% better than their competition when the economy recovers. So, despite the pain all of us, including your employees feel, we have a change management environment that every leadership team should take advantage of. Using a process called “After Action Review” leadership teams should brainstorm how things have been done differently and once the list is done, seriously consider keeping best practices. These changes should not be done without careful consideration of the employees.
Employees have a lot of fear and anxiety about what has happened to them, because no one knows what the future holds with certainty. While we recommend frequent communications to employees keeping them updated on the status of the business is not enough. One way to significantly reduce fear and anxiety is to involve your employees in making these decisions. Consider setting up multi-level cross functional teams to take each of the items in your brainstorm list and work to create new processes and procedures that have specific goals and objectives. Make them part of creating the vision of your preferred future. When all is said and done, you will get greater buy in for the changes and employees will have a clear view of what the future will look like. With a clear path to their vision of the preferred future, change management will be much easier and those changes will stick.
This article is part of Group50’s Re-opening Your Business series that covers our recommended best practices across all functional areas. Jim Gitney, CEO of Group50 summarizes many areas of significant change in Managing Your Way Through 2020.
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