Over the past couple of months, COVID-19 has completely redefined ‘normal’ and it seems we are in a constant state of flux. Naturally, this has challenged individuals to grow, change, and adapt to all aspects of our lives and how we function. Just like individuals, most organizations needed to adapt and innovate the way they work.
The recent events have been a catalyst for organizations to look inward to redefine what type of company they want to be, what do they want to be known for, and what new ways of working do they want to implement. It has enabled organizations to take a step back and come to the realization that their employees are people first. They are no longer just employees who only bring their “business self” to work every day, but they are holistic human beings who are being impacted in various ways both in the workplace and outside of the workplace.
How does a leader navigate all this change and lead their organization through these times?
Awareness of how we each go through change is the first step. Leaders should be familiar with how individuals are experiencing the changes – whether it be a change in work location, adapting to new health regulations such as social distancing, or juggling an ambiguous schedule. We have all been challenged during these times to rethink what we thought possible and adapt – and adopt the transition quickly.
As the future becomes clearer, organizations and individuals will have to embark on another change journey to adopt whatever that ‘new normal’ future state looks like. It is clear that organizational agility around change management is a skill most organizations can no longer go without. These individual journeys need to be effectively guided by our leaders and managers – by implementing an effective change plan, organizations will be able to properly support individuals through the change and reduce unnecessary chaos and anxiety.
The critical step in being an effective leader during times like this is to be a conscious leader of change. Building leadership change competency and being clear on the critical role of a leader during transformations will help the organization set up the change to achieve its objectives while supporting employees through the journey.
A big part of the role that leaders and managers play is to lead employees through the process of change. As COVID-19 evolves, it is important to manage the expectations of employees. Some employees may enjoy working from home and have been more productive these past few months, others miss going into the office, and some like the balance between the two.
It’s critical to understand the new behaviors and beliefs employees have and collaborate to redefine the future workplace. It is important to clearly articulate what this future state is shaping up to look like – and involve employees at every step.
The global pandemic has shed light on how organizations respond and manage through change. Many have risen to the challenge and adapted instantaneously given the circumstances. However, increased change management competency will ensure every change supports and guides each individual through change. Change is inevitable, how we lead and respond to change determines our success.