It hardly needs to be said at this point, but we are living in strange times — and trying to navigate completely uncharted water. With a true global pandemic on the loose, the entire world has essentially been shut down, and with it, large parts of the structure of our society —most notably our economy. This is a difficult time for both business owners and employees, and information is a bit murky on what happens next. Businesses are learning to operate while everyone is working from home, and many are suffering from a loss of profit. Unfortunately, we can’t control what’s going on right now. But business owners can find opportunity amid the calamity.
You’ve heard about how to balance working on your business with working in your business —and you know how hard it can be to tilt from “in” to “on.” Well, this is your chance. We will get back to normal life eventually and the economy will rebound. Now is the time to make sure your business is ready to lead when it does. Use this time as an opportunity to not only make the improvements that have been on your plate for some time, but to take a closer look at your team and how it is structured.
This can be a very revealing time for your team. How are they handling adverse circumstances? Are those in leadership positions leading effectively? Are there unlikely employees emerging as leaders in a time of crisis? See who stacks up when the chips are down and use that information to reconstruct your team and ensure everyone is in the right role. On the strategy side, take this time to lay out a vision for your company in a post-COVID-19 world. Make the changes you’ve been meaning to make and get a fresh perspective that will guide you forward.
Once you’ve decided on the way forward, it’s time to put the plan into action. Whether that means right away or whenever we’re “back to normal,” you must lead your team through the change — and you must have a change management plan to do so. Change management is as much emotional as it is informational. Successful change management requires leaders who are willing to learn and engage. Research in the field of the psychology of change management suggests four basic conditions have to be met before employees will positively embrace change in their thinking and behavior:
A Compelling Story
People must see the point of change. Make sure you communicate why changes are being made and do it in an inspiring manner. Tell a great story! The aim isn’t just to get your team ready — it’s to get them excited.
Changes in your business mean changes in behavior from your employees. Whatever that looks like in your business, you must show, not tell, employees what the new expectations are. People learn by seeing others do the same. Make sure they see colleagues they admire modeling the desired behavior.
Your employees won’t realistically pick up new processes and behaviors after a couple of meetings. It takes practice, practice, practice. Implement surrounding structures, systems, processes and incentives that reinforce the new way of doing things.
Skills Required for Change
Your employees must possess the skills to do what is required of them. Resiliency is a key personality trait here. If some of your employees are struggling with change, consider bringing in an outside change management specialist.
An effective Change Management Program must incorporate all these behavioral principles in order to successfully redefine the scope and responsibilities necessary during this transformational process. You must authentically embrace the necessary changes and incorporate behavioral principles that will drive success for your change management plan.
There’s no denying that both people and businesses are struggling right now. There’s not much you can do about that. What you can do is prepare your business and your employees to come out the other side ready to win. No one truly knows how long this will last — but figuring out what your company will be when it does end should be your first priority.