Business change – at pace
The global pandemic has caused everyone and every business to change – or at minimum, to reflect, re-assess and re-consider how they operate and behave.
One of the fundamental and critical requirements for business leaders and management teams is how to lead through this change to ensure continuing business viability profitability and to optimise new opportunities. There are no blueprints, no templates, no proven recipes to call on. Successful management of businesses through the post-pandemic period will require leadership and management skill.
Visionary skills to navigate through this change
The crisis has caused immediate changes, at an unparalleled rate such as:
- an accelerated adoption of different, smarter ways of working with – meetings via video conferences, millions working from home in businesses that would never have envisioned such a transformation.
- consumers buying more and different products and services on-line.
- two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.
This change is coming at a fast pace and in many different forms.
It is bringing significant challenges for leaders and managers – and great opportunities for organisations that are prepared to take them – to respond proactively and creatively, to grow and to re-engineer in ways they could not previously have envisioned.
Change is at pace and in different forms
Key attributes for leading the change
To manage businesses successfully through the recovery and then beyond the crisis, leaders will need:
As an initial priority, leaders will have to support the health and wellbeing of their organisations and teams, ensuring employees feel safe and that working environments are controlled, safe and meeting national and local guidelines. The primary focus needs to be on keeping people safe as the lockdown is eased and ongoing management of the pandemic risks.
Risk management and cash flow
For many businesses, the pandemic will have been very damaging to cash flow and liquidity. Businesses will need to steer a course which starts to rebuild liquidity and to manage their cash flow tightly, and to protect cash. Businesses will need to re-start and recover by re-modelling and re-imagining processes to operate effectively within the “new normal.”
Re-assess risks – now and in future
Leaders will have to review their business risks in the context of the new normal and in the near instantaneous changes to areas including supply chain continuity/security, sourcing and availability of raw materials, availability of labour (especially transient/seasonal labour), and the changing trade-offs that consumers are making in terms of costs versus availability.
Business readiness and preparation will be required to minimise risks associated with similar future outbreaks or crises with immediate health and safety implications. Organisations will need to have the technology and digital capability in place to continue operations and trade. A re-balanced use of technology, AI and robotics will be needed to counter the impact of restricted movement and human interaction.
The risk management and re-balancing of the assessment and impact of future crisis should form a key part of a leader’s post-pandemic recovery activity.
Businesses will typically go through three stages to navigate and manage the crisis and beyond. These are:
In-crisis action: The immediate tasks and steps that businesses must take to protect their people, teams and customers and to safeguard their business revenue and liquidity.
Re-start: Creating, finding and developing new ways and processes to re-establish business continuity post lockdown; and adjusting to the new normal, and conditions – as many businesses have done with the rapid adoption of video conferencing for meetings internally and with customers, by increasing on-line offerings.
Reinvigorate and grow: Many businesses will need to re-imagine their futures, their plans, re-modelling ways of working in light of the future conditions of work and trade. For others, new processes and procedures will be created to optimise their revenue and growth in the new normal. Rapid change and adjustment will also present new opportunities, new revenue streams and new market possibilities never before conceived.
Reinvigorate, leading to new future and possibilities
Leadership will differentiate
Leadership skills will make the difference – and will separate businesses that grow and succeed from those that don’t in the post-pandemic climate
Successful managers will:
- Develop the new vision, re-envision where the business will prosper and thrive, and manage the development and implementation of new ways of working.
Leadership critical to future success
- Communicate and illustrate the business direction to teams, customers and shareholders.
- Plan and navigate through the change stages to reach a re-invigorated, prosperous future.
- Enable and lead the creation of new operating models.
- Build a digital backbone to ensure digital readiness.
The skills and capabilities that leaders will need include:
- Empathy and flexibility – to navigate change and transition.
- Motivation – to help and support managers and teams to stick with the journey and transition through change.
- Emotional intelligence to understand how teams and the workforce will respond and react to new ways of working and to rapid, potentially unforeseen change.
- Living the vision – demonstrating by their individual behaviour and outlook how the future will be achieved.
- Engagement – with teams and customers to show belief, trust and personal commitment to the achievement of the vision and goals.
- Optimising and embracing technological change – digitisation will need to be adopted throughout the organisation and within all business processes to maintain industry-level expectations and to optimise efficiency opportunities.
Leading the change successfully post-crisis will enable many businesses to survive, thrive and prosper based on re-envisioned futures, re-modelled business processes, and ways of working adapted and developed around the “new normal”.
Leadership skills will be critical to successful navigation and optimisation of the business possibilities available and to delivering the new future.
Leaders will need to :
Protect the core skills, workforce and teams in the initial recovery stage.
Plan widely and creatively; be bold, look beyond today and drive opportunities.
- Review and update risk management and risk assessment strategies.
- Balance the priorities of instilling agility, flexibility and resilience into their operations.
Leadership agenda – Re-model, energise and thrive
- Lead through setting and living the business vision for the future.
- Be steadfast and committed to achieving the new goals and potential available.
- Motivate, encourage and demonstrate how the future roadmap will be navigated.
- Optimise and bring forward digitisation to enhance and to protect the business.
& Change Management Leader