Covid: A Game of Two Halves

Here we go again …

Having eaten-out-to-help-out, caught up with friends and family, popped back into the office, and looked forward to the restoration of some kind of normality, we now face another six months of uncertainty and the consequences that brings. With winter looming, a “cancelled Christmas”, and Brexit on the horizon, leaders and their teams will be tested yet again. Naturally, we will experience a range of emotions based on our own personal situation that under the circumstances are perfectly appropriate and right. But these emotions can cloud our judgement inappropriately influencing our thinking, behaviours, and actions. Feelings may range from frustration through to fear and paralysis (or the opposite), leading to chaotic decision-making and bad outcomes.

So, just as it first appeared in March, the future is bleak, and the end is nigh.

Or is it?

No, it is different this time.

Over this past six months we have learnt a lot about ourselves and our colleagues. Think about it. The learnings and successes have been significant, and we know more today than we did in March …

  • We know more about the virus, how it works, and how to manage it
  • We know during this period of enforced change many organisations and their people ‘stepped up’
  • We know many teams found a new sense of purpose, a flag to rally around
  • We know on a personal level we are not as good at some things as we thought we were (but)
  • We know many people adapted, coped, and evolved, exceeding their own expectations
  • We know many organisations adapted to the ‘new norm’ and are coping (even thriving)
  • We know what works and (critically) what does not at an individual and organisational level
  • We know organisations adapted and/or accelerated the pace of change to meet these new challenges
  • We know strong, open communication is vital
  • We know new working relationships and internal alliances were formed
  • We know agility, resilience, creativity, innovation, and collaboration facilitate success
  • We know who we can trust and rely on, and who we cannot

But do not assume that the coming months will be easy just because we now ‘know what we know’. Some sectors will continue to shrink and bear the brunt of the pain. Sadly, there will be more human cost too. But the world will still spin, opportunities will still be created and lost, ‘stuff’ will still happen, and organisations and those within them will continue to adapt and evolve as before.

If Covid has reminded us of one thing, it is that we humans evolve and transform as our landscape changes. It is in our DNA to adapt and survive. As we go through this period of enforced change and transformation, new opportunities will be created throwing up the need for different skills, expertise, behaviours, and attitudes.  As ever, it will be down to the people. Having the right team in place will drive and create success, provide leadership at all levels, and build a safe and constructive culture.

So, in the coming months, what can Leaders and their teams take from the recent past to maintain momentum, and keep our people, culture, and businesses moving forward?

  • Continue to be clear about our purpose and where we are going
  • Without being rah-rah, rally everyone to the challenge
  • Be honest about what we are facing
  • Be bold – seize opportunities
  • Continue developing and upskilling your people to meet new challenges and organisational needs
  • Do not be afraid to make transformative hires for new roles or to replace those resistant to change
  • Be honest and admit your mistakes. Learn from them and share constructively
  • Recognise the success, commitment, and hard work shown by others
  • Build engagement and dialogue with every colleague individually
  • Accept that for many, this will be tough
  • Embrace collaboration, innovation, and radical free-thinking – it is the ‘new norm’
  • Open your mind to new thinking and doing. Do not revert to type, do not go backwards

In practical terms what does this mean as we look to the next six months?

Firstly, map out your current organisational/competitive/business landscape. Whilst it may have shifted (or even still be shifting), at a macro level the skills and attributes that have got you through this will fundamentally still be the same. At a micro-level however, there will undoubtedly be some fine-tuning required. Some will need further development, whilst others may need to learn when to turn it up (or dial it down) depending on context. In addition, some may not be fit for purpose or resistant to change or development. In such instances replace quickly and replace better.

As the team walks onto the pitch for the second half, our experience and research tell us that the following skills are key determinates of success:

  • Being able to engage empathically
  • Being able to coach and support
  • Being able to think creatively
  • Being able to work collaboratively
  • Being able to make decisions quickly and decisively
  • Being able to create and drive action
  • Being able to lead and show leadership

In terms of attributes, we now know under the ‘new norm’ the key determinants of success are:

  • Resilience
  • Agility
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Drive

So, yes, the future will be tough, it will be a grind, and it will be challenging.

But we know much more about ourselves, how we have adapted, and what we need to do as we enter this next phase. Whether you realise it or not, we are far better placed now than we were back in March to not only cope, but to grow and thrive individually and organisationally.

If you would like to discuss this article, find out more about The Norman Broadbent Group, or talk through  people/organisational challenges, please contact Tim Drake or Andrew Smith for an initial confidential discussion.