Nine questions: Are you ‘people-ready’ post COVID19?

Posted by Brien Keegan

Have you received countless emails on how companies are approaching the post-lockdown world?  Or tips and considerations around transitioning from WFH (everyone now knows what that means) back into the workplace?  

Many people have predicted that much of the change we’ve been forced to adopt over these past weeks will have a lasting effect on business and our wider society. So with that in mind, beyond the immediate practical requirements, have you thought about what will change for your business  post lockdown?  

Here are nine questions we have been asking the business owners we work with at Sprout that you might want to consider.

1. Are you still going in the same direction?  Now is a great time to think about your vision and purpose, and the strategy to get there.  Has it changed for you, as it has for us?  Have you thought about how you will engage your people in this renewed direction?  If people know where you are going, they can help you get there.  

2. Are you going to do anything differently?  A good candidate for this is accelerated digitisation, which has been talked about a lot amidst lockdown working. Is this part of your strategy?  What does this mean for your business? And have you thought about the impact of increased digital acceleration on your people? 

3. Do you now see organisational productivity in a different light?  It is hugely surprising how many businesses pre-COVID could not consider WFH as an option. Have you defined a new WFH policy for your business post-COVID? And if this has  changed, does this subsequently open up a wider talent pool for you?  

4. As a result of point three, what are you thinking about your organisational design?  Is your structure right for now and is it right for the future?  Do you have the right people in the right roles?

5. Is contract talent available that wouldn’t normally be?  Some  people have lost or had to reduce  hours, so have capacity in specialist areas. Think marketing resource, strategic planning, or ad-hoc project work you may need temporary support with.  

6. Do you have an ongoing internal communication  plan?   A lot of people have told us that communication has been better in lockdown than it was pre-lockdown.  We believe this is because business owners and directors have taken a more conscious approach to communication.  That should continue post-COVID, especially given you may be considering partial remote working for some or all of your team. 

7. Have you considered this change from your team’s perspective? "People are people, people are not assets.” We had a business owner share this phrase with us.  How very true.  In lockdown for the most part we saw a lot more care for the ‘whole person’, i.e., beyond just their workload.   Consider your team’s families, what else is going on in their world and the challenges around managing a high workload during  all this change.  

8. Can you maintain the same accountability?  As businesses worked from home, we helped a number of them drive greater engagement and accountability.  This was perhaps born in part due to nervousness around productivity of those working from home.  How can you now take this same mindset post lockdown?  

9. Are you ready for turnover?  Research shows  that in a downturn job security becomes a #1 driver.  As a result you might have a perception that your team are now committed to your business for life.  This is why you shouldn’t  drop your new-found initiatives around engagement and communication because when the market picks back up, you want to retain your team.  On the  flip side of this, are you ready to capture outstanding talent that are looking for new opportunities?  

 

The true test of leadership is not how you manage in good times, but how you manage in the challenging times 

As such, how are you feeling about your own leadership?  How are you feeling about the other leaders in your business?  Now may be a perfect time to get some additional coaching support. 

As business owners ourselves, we know from personal experience how challenging these eight weeks have been.  We also know it  has taught us even more about the importance of clarity for your people.  

Finally, don’t forget to give yourself a high-five for getting this far and take a moment to be proud of that. 

He aha te mea nui o te ao. He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata


Brien Keegan is Sprout’s founder and managing director.  He supports businesses we work with in their people strategy, direction and becoming genuinely purpose driven businesses.  Contact Brien on brien@sproutnz.com or 027 699 8509

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