Change Management Coming Out of COVID
Organizations dealing with the business effects of COVID-19 have been forced to make significant changes to their operations, oftentimes having to reduce or eliminate staffing. These organizations will go through a change process that will relate to the change process that individual employees go through, as well.
After sharing whatever that painful initial action is, whether it is a layoff or a furloughing of staff or some major reduction in hours, organizations need to be very open and transparent with staff, allowing for questions and answers in order to help employees accept the change, even if they don’t agree with or want the change. Organizations may not have concrete plans yet because the external environment that is causing change is not clear and well-defined. But organizations need to convey some sense of what those plans could include and when more concrete plans will be possible. They need to give employees the sense that – even though the plans are not finalized – there is a course forward that is being developed.
Next, they obviously need to share those plans, once developed. They need to make sure that those future plans, in particular if they are reflecting a reduced staffing level, will include having employees who are enabled to succeed. This can involve additional training, leveraging technology, elimination of non-essential activities so that staff can focus on their core functions, and reorganization to create efficiency. Sharing those plans with staff should be done to provide some clarity and some confidence for the employees so they understand their role and feel like they will have the support needed to be successful.
As these plans are implemented, organizations need to continue that dialogue with staff, getting input on what’s working and what’s not, what additional resources or support staff need so that the organization can be agile, adjusting as needed through this implementation process. The more employees have their environment modified to enable success, the more likely that they will adopt these new processes and begin operating in an efficient way. The organization needs to focus from this point forward rewarding high performance, but also simply rewarding adoption of change. Reward completing major tasks and achieving milestones. This will help to motivate staff, continue to build staff buy-in, and begin to ramp up performance levels.