June 18, 2020 | Change Management
There has been a lot written about the changes that have occurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many – devastating. Some – promising. I for one hope our education system seizes the opportunity to rethink the eight-hour school day. I hope telemedicine is here to stay. And I hope minds have been opened about how a remote work environment can thrive and sustain itself over the long term.
Regardless of what the future defines as the new “normal” work environment, the pandemic and rush to work almost 100% remotely shined a light on many calls to action.
Innovate. It’s a scary word to some and is often associated with cutting edge technology or product development. But the pandemic proved that individuals can innovate in the simplest of ways resulting in the most astonishing results. Companies are rethinking traditional risk models and introducing new ways to interact, process work, and make decisions. The time to challenge the status quo is now with an increased resilience in the marketplace coupled with a desire to creatively solve problems.
Communicate. Change management is the conscience of any large initiative. Unfortunately, the work activities associated with understanding and mitigating employee resistance to the changes represented in your strategy often end up on the cutting room floor. A sound change management strategy is adapted to the risk profile of each initiative and is just as critical to that initiative as the business case or the project plan.
Know Your Stakeholders. A common tool amongst change practitioners is a stakeholder analysis. Identify those impacted by a change, understand their influence and power and develop communication and action accordingly. When a pandemic forces all your stakeholders to work remotely – what do you do? A stakeholder analysis becomes a lifeline. Understanding behaviors and temperaments allows you to know when to reach out, when to engage, when to give someone space. Connection to stakeholders remains the key but doing it in the right way is even more important.
Be Empathetic. We have all been reminded while working remotely that our co-workers are people. They have kids, pets, and some – fairly unique home offices. Pre-pandemic, if you heard a dog bark or a child cry – let’s admit it – we might be slightly annoyed. But with an increased sense of empathy, we improve our ability to regulate emotions during times of stress. While innate for some, empathy is something that needs practice. And studies suggest that caring about others is one way to increase productivity and connection.
Be Visible and Present. Video conferencing tools like WebEx and Microsoft Teams were in use prior to the pandemic. But it wasn’t unusual for people to login to these tools for a meeting while sitting in cubicles next to each other. And certainly not with the video feature turned on. Now – people are using the video feature! It increases connection, forces people to stay focused on the topic, and overall (in my opinion) makes the meeting more efficient. We all need to feel heard and seen.
All of this points towards our collective, innate ability to adapt. We were thrown a massive curveball and we adapted. At Lake Shore Associates, adaptability is a core tenet. As change practitioners, we flex our adaptability muscle every day when leading transformations for our clients, large and small. The pandemic has laid the groundwork for massive change – positive change – in the ways we innovate, communicate, know our stakeholders, remain empathetic, and be visible and present. Let’s not waste this chance.
For more information on how Lake Shore Associates can help you drive your next transformation, visit www.lakeshore.is.
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