The impact of a pandemic on the approach to management and change
Management and operational staff have had to adapt to a changing world and put in place different management styles that help their organisations survive and work effectively with the temporary lock downs and restrictions put upon them by the pandemic - that as we have seen are ongoing and difficult to predict.
How to progress and manage change
It is important to review your organisation and quickly identify if a problem actually exists. Analyse the causes and the extent of the problem before instigating any change. If action is needed then try these 10 steps -
- Identify the need for any specific or overall change;
- Analyse the company’s operational structure and performance prior to the pandemic;
- Determine how is this structure being impacted by the pandemic;
- Recognise elements in need of change and solicit employee opinions and direction prior to any action;
- Encourage and appreciate employee participation and suggestions;
- Have a clear vision and communication plan;
- Set up a time line - ‘before-during-after’;
- Start any management or operational changes with high level management personnel first and then progress to employees by status level to ensure a correct transition;
- Start with personal and cultural/personal changes;
- Progress with operational changes;
Communication is the key
Communication is fundamental to any organisation change and this, in turn, needs to be supported by a solid dose of commitment to the strategy and progression of the change.
It is essential that communication channels are clearly established, routinized, and are ‘user friendly’ and readily accessible. The transition to online at UBSS, for example, was accompanied by daily bulletins that kept everyone involved up to speed on the changing environment.
From the outset, encourage employees to discuss the changes and the associated implementation methods. It is also a good idea to discuss (regularly) the opportunities and advantages associated with the change to routine and structure.
Have the right management team-leader who has the time and experience to oversee the process
Having the right person leading the change strategy is important and quite critical to acceptance and success. This may not necessarily be the CEO. It could be overseen by an experienced senior staffer who has the time, energy and commitment to the initiative.
It is important to prepare for some degree of operational disruption and employee dissatisfaction and this will require a level head and approach. The advice, then, is to anticipate some degree of low employee morale and pockets of the ‘us’ and ‘them’; expect increases in stress, confusion, and fatigue; accept the fact that some valued employees will leave the organization; appreciate that there may be a productivity decline for a period of time; be ready for possible disruption with suppliers who feel the impact of the change/s; and understand any negativity from your customer base.
Sir Gerard Newcombe is the Director HR and Marketing at Group Colleges Australia.
Emeritus Professor Greg Whateley is the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Group Colleges Australia.