5 Steps Leaders Can Take to Ramp UP
Post COVID Leadership Recovery
By Jennifer Eggers, Andersen Alumnus and Founder and President of LeaderShift Insights®,
As the debate on when to ease restrictions wages on and we all get tired of hearing about this 'new normal' we can't seem to define, many leaders are struggling with a lack of things they can control about their organization and team's future. I hear, 'we just don't know' from clients multiple times a day, usually followed by a sigh. It is frustrating at best for those of us who wish we could do something to make it better. And it is paralyzing at its worst because not doing anything at all is not the answer when there are critical steps leaders can (and perhaps must) take to plan for recovery.
Here is our five-step process for accelerating recovery. And the best part? You can start right now - in your PJ's and bunny slippers. Every one of these steps is intended to be done in collaboration with your team or organization's leaders and these conversations can begin virtually right now.
Assess COVID crisis adaptations.
It is simply not possible to go back to 'normal', but in order to move forward,
we must first identify what has changed as a result of the crisis. Just like
there were significant shifts in air travel after 9/11, there will be
significant shifts in how we work together after COVID. We may not know exactly
what they will be, but you can begin anticipating some of them (at least for
the near term) now. It will be critical to identify what these are for your
specific organization and it might be helpful to think of them in terms of short
and long-term as they will likely change over time. To get started right now,
invite a dialog with your team to determine which adaptations they have made
have worked well and which have not…and what can be done to change or improve
we were leading this conversation, some of the outcomes would include:
Insight into what worked in response
to the COVID crisis and adaptations in ways of working
Alignment around what has changed in
the market and what changes our customers are dealing with
A sense of which changes will go
away and which we will need to adjust to in the long-term
A staring point of view around which
operating practices can return to normal and which will need to be adjusted or
discontinued (and when)
An inclusive conversation around
what we have learned about ourselves, the team and the organization
Review your business strategy.
At first glance as we get back to normal, it might be tempting to assume that
your business strategy is solid enough to continue as is. After all, a lot of
thought went into it when it was written, and it seems almost overwhelming to
make changes now. This can be problematic because while you may be able to stay
the course, in many cases, your customers cannot. Before you can even determine
if your strategy needs to change, take a good hard look at your customers and
the situation they are in post crisis. If they are not in a position to work
with you the way they did before COVID, your strategy (at least in the short
term) may need to change. To get started right now, start asking about changes
in preferences and behaviors and build a timeframe based on what has been
postponed or delayed. Think through the implications of how you interact with
them and how that may change your strategy.
this conversation, our focus would be on creating alignment around what parts
of our strategy need to change in the short term to accommodate shifts in the
market and building a time-frame to set clear expectations around the parts of
our strategy that continue to be relevant and what must be postponed or
shifted…and a plan for both.
Create a strategic agenda and
priorities. One of the most critical things we
can do to accelerate recovery is to take a time-out with our team to create a
shared strategic agenda and align around priorities. As we figure out what is
changing, particularly in your strategy, we need to make sure that everyone is
clear on the capabilities required to drive the new strategy (which may be a
smaller subset of what was critical 2 months ago). Having people on the same
page with critical priorities will avoid confusion and posturing to drive a
potentially outdated agenda. You might not be able to dive into this in detail
right now, but you can intentionally lean in to setting time aside and asking
for help to plan and lead a session like this as soon as you know what needs to
change immediately. It may not be ideal, but this can begin virtually.
outcome of this exercise is alignment and clarity around the future state
(perhaps phased) and a clearly defined set of organizational capabilities
required to drive that future state. We would assess and prioritize the gaps in
those capabilities and build an investment roadmap to ensure those gaps get
closed in the appropriate timeframe as resources become available.
Understand emerging culture.
Once your organization is back in the swing of things, it is highly unlikely
that your corporate culture will remain exactly as it was before. We have met
with CEO's who, a month ago, said their team could never be successful
virtually because face time was so important to their culture. That may not be
the case anymore. Some organizations have teams with survivors’ guilt who may
not have been furloughed. As furloughed employees return, attention to this
dynamic will move you through it faster. There are many cultural implications.
To get started on this right now, you can start anticipating and discussing
what those will be for you.
conversations is focused on understanding the impact of the crisis and the adaptations
that have been made on our culture AND aligning around the kind of culture we
need going forward to take us into the ‘next normal’, delivering on the
capabilities required to drive our strategy. It also includes figuring out what
leadership can do to intentionally build it.
Align organizational structure.
With all the changes that have happened, while this one is last in the
sequence, it may need to be addressed earlier given reductions and furloughs.
The important thing is for your leaders to understand exactly what
organizational capabilities are critical to deliver in the short-term and
assess your structure to ensure that it is set up to deliver them as
efficiently and effectively as possible. Depending on the impact to your
business, it may also be important to build a phased approach to ramping back
up as the economy comes back. Setting aside time to do this now and engaging an
objective third party partner or HR team member to help is something you can
plan for right now.
This conversation depends on the state of your organization and immediate needs. If you would like help thinking this through, call us. It’s what we do.