Phased considerations to help organisations overcome the COVID-19 crisis

BY CHRIS DANDO

In just a matter of weeks, the whole world has been turned upside down as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic. My initial thoughts go out to all those who have contracted the virus, those who have been hospitalised, those in self-isolation and those who have lost loved ones. Our emergency services and those on the front line, who are helping to keep us all safe and to keep our essential services running deserve our utmost gratitude, without them things would be much more difficult for us all.

It is clear that in these unprecedented times there is going to be an economic impact for us all, no matter what sector or industry we are working in, and many organisations will be struggling with how best to react. First and foremost we will all have the safety of our people at the front of our mind, whilst also planning around how we can maintain business in a scenario which will mean a reduced capacity and ability to fulfil service and production at a time when there will be a high degree of uncertainty of what the future has in store.

These challenges are compounded by the great unknown: is COVID-19 a short-term (few months) issue, or will it become a longer-term consideration which leads to a paradigm shift in the way we live and work going forward? Whilst I can’t predict the future in terms of timeline, I’m more comfortable with predicting the pattern of how we can respond to current events.

This blog shares some guidance, centred around a phased timeline, on how organisational leaders can combat the current crisis, mitigate the immediate impact and look to maximise their recovery rate as time moves on.

1. STABILISE

We are currently in a period where the rules of running a business are being ripped up and thrown out, presenting a massive challenge to all involved. The priority right now is to try and stabilise and keep the continuity of core production or service delivery where infections / self-isolations are rising and capacity therefore dropping. To help with this period, give thought to:

BE PEOPLE CENTRIC

Make sure that your people are safe, and do the right thing by them and their families. Offer more support and assistance wherever possible; and if they’re all home working, use technology to maintain daily video contact so no one feels unsupported in anyway. Your people will see you through this crisis, don’t cut corners.

REDEPLOY

Complete a rapid review of your production and service delivery portfolio – what can be stripped back or even completely paused with the least impact on customers at this time?

For example, home insurers may consider temporarily ceasing less critical administrative processes, such policy amends, in favour of moving people to claims departments. Or agencies like HMRC may move resource from personal tax matters to support businesses at this time. Each organisation and industry will have different mechanisms of temporarily reclassifying the importance of their delivery.

BE TRANSPARENT

Be open and transparent with your customers about how you can or indeed cannot meet their needs currently.

We’re all in this together and undoubtedly goodwill will extend back to you from your customers, but only if you prioritise correctly based on their needs, and tell them about it.

 

2. MANAGE

We are in the peak of the COVID-19 crisis and within our organisations we need to find ways to systematically manage the work, in what is a seemingly constant daily flux of change and disruption. Consider the following:

BE AGILE

Change fast and often if needed. The coming period looks set to lack ‘normality’ within our operations, so your decision making will need to follow suit.

USE TECHNOLOGY

Dispersed teams can very quickly engage and collaborate using one of many solutions available. Data security is of course a key consideration, however be pragmatic where possible.

SET EXPECTATIONS

Be sure to continue to set expectations of your people to keep control, whether they remain office located or at home. But review and revise frequently – we don’t know what is around the corner. Diversify and utilise spare capacity well: as countries hit lock down, certain organisations will see a direct drop in customer demand. How can you best use your resources during this period? Manufacturers could turn to the production of equipment that can support the crisis such as ventilators; service organisations can invest time in building capability, perhaps using online solutions. 

Really think carefully about what you may do with too much capacity, not just scarcity of it which is the primary focus of the stability period. If we all work together and think in a collaborative manner, then hopefully we can get through this crisis quicker and minimise the impact.

3. RECOVER AND NORMALISE

The worst seems over and things generally seem set to return to normal. Now is the time to recover fully and re-establish normality within your organisation. Some key areas to consider when we reach this point in time:

COMMUNICATE

Now is the time to re-engage with your customers to acknowledge the recent journey, the impact on them and their willingness to understand. Be clear as to when you expect things to return to the normality that they became accustomed with.

RECOGNISE

You’ve got through this due to your ability to lead; your care and consideration for your people; and through their remarkable efforts. Take the time to recognise these factors in the most appropriate way.

RE-PRIORITISE

Now is the time to rethink short and mid-term business strategies, for example can you give more focus to transformation or improvement activities that can drive revenue or reduce / avoid cost to help with the financial stability of the business?

LEARN

Critically review how your organisation managed the crisis – what went well and what didn’t? How can you take positive opportunities from it and systemise some of the brilliant ways that helped you become more agile, allowing you to perform in this way out of choice rather than necessity in the future?

IN CONCLUSION

History is littered with events that fundamentally changed the ways of the world, and early signs are suggesting that COVID-19 is set to do the same.  For us as individuals, we will show undoubted resilience in the face of adversity.  For our organisations, the current crisis has the potential to breed further opportunities to grow and perhaps normalise some of the rapid decision making, innovation and agility in our operations that has been forced upon us – to a much greater and positive long-term effect. 

As we step into the unknown over the coming weeks and months, certainly be bold with your decision making to keep your people safe and your production or services moving. However, equally don’t be afraid to look for unique opportunities to harness your people differently, be that through variation of their typical tasks, or through more formal learning opportunities.

Whatever the coming months brings for you, your families and your organisations, Reinvigoration send our best wishes. Please take care. Together we will get through this.    

Chris Dando - Reinvigoration

About Chris Dando

Chris is a Partner at Reinvigoration. He has a real passion for driving pragmatic change that resonates with those involved. You can get in touch with him directly by Email or connect on Linkedin.

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