Erdaojiang One of the biggest challenges facing business in post-COVID recovery is the balance between getting back to work and reconsidering work as they embrace the new reality. The pandemic accelerated changes in business behaviours that are likely to continue. How leaders and businesses handle these behaviours and the return to work may shape their brand for years to come.
We are now at a crossroads of reaching decisions in how we retain some of the improved practices that we have adopted during the crisis, such as making quicker decisions, the efficiency of meetings, and being more honest and concise in our communication approaches. Employees have a desire to hold onto their freedom to plan and organise their days from the comfort of their own homes whilst also retaining the buzz of the urgency that the pandemic thrust upon us.
After having been focused for more than 12 months on having a clear purpose and acting swiftly, leaders are now grappling with how to unlock their businesses and bring their teams back together.
As leaders prepare to unlock, they need to take the time to understand what is going on within their teams, what the employees’ new expectations are, and how these can be managed against the recovery phase. Leadership styles will therefore need to be very adaptive during this period, and without a clear end to the virus, you may be faced with a need to confirm some harsh realities to yourself and your teams.
The crisis for many businesses has also as a consequence reordered the informal hierarchies within teams, with team players taking on differing roles and new relationships being forged. Who in your team has been the unsung hero who stepped up when needed and made a quick decision? How will you retain this empowerment moving forward? How can you ensure decisions continue to be made at this level?
Leaders can sometimes fall into the trap of making assumptions about employee beliefs/engagement, so instead, consider gathering your team together to reflect on the pandemic. What have they learnt? What worked well? What have they found frustrating? What would they like to see continue? Would they have rather been without the experience? You could also consider exploring these questions with your key customers and suppliers as, undoubtedly, their future operating choices will shape your future practices. Use these answers to shape your recovery plan, ensuring that you tactfully communicate employee requests that may be detrimental to the business direction. Use some of this learning to also scope your business continuity plans, business strategy and people plans.
Leaders cannot sit back and wait for teams to reset themselves; there will be a need for visibility, purposeful reorientation, and authenticity on the journey ahead.
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