Friday | 05 June | 2020
By Anja van den Berg
Luminary leaders know that the world of work will be a much different place than before Covid-19 and that the workplace won’t be business as usual.
Managers want to know how they can pave the way for their teams in a post-pandemic world. Hubert Joly, executive chairman and former CEO of Best Buy, says that corporate leaders should take two aspects into account: safety and professional meaning.
Joly recommends that leaders build a post-pandemic leadership plan with three phases in mind. They may assign different names or specific lengths to these phases, but they all roughly map three distinct time horizons: the shelter-in-place phase, the reopening phase, and the post-Covid-19 phase.
The shelter-in-place phase
During this phase companies seek to ensure their workers’ physical safety. They implement work-from-home measures and go above and beyond the regulations to sanitise and deep-clean work areas. Beyond physical safety, leaders do their best to ensure job security as well, keeping employees on the payroll for as long as possible. Senior executives and the board of directors take pay cuts to save as many jobs as they can. Taking it a step further, leaders try hard to create connection and support the mental health of their workers. They communicate with their employees in ongoing, frequent, transparent and honest ways.
The reopening phase
With the staggered approach to end the lockdown, workplaces will become a blend of the physical and virtual environments. Anja van Beek, an executive coach, says that managers need to be mindful that the change back to the office environment may be as big a transition as it was to work remotely. “For some,” she adds, “it was a traumatic experience.” As showcased during the lockdown period, collaboration tools and platforms will support dynamic work locations and how your team collaborates. An agile mindset should be the norm, and organisations will have to value adaptability over following a process.
The post-Covid-19 phase
It will be some time until the country will reach this point, but businesses are beginning to envision and prepare for it. As companies start working on inventing a future that does not yet exist, they would be wise to mobilise the business understanding and a sense of purpose of their employees as input to their planning process. Van Beek says that future-fit employers build on the principle of the “invisible leader” and leverage the power of purpose. Are your employees connected to the organisation’s direction, and does it excite them? Would they choose to use their talents and creativity to work towards the organisation’s purpose? This is the phase where leaders should invite their teams to innovate and experiment. Managers should encourage individuals to focus on innovation, creativity and problem-solving.
How businesses and leaders approach the three phases of the Covid-19 crisis and treat their stakeholders – starting with their employees – will make or break the future of the company. Consider what you would want your teams to remember on their first workday after the lockdown. These are the moments that matter, and how you rally your team will be crucial.
Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2020/05/lead-your-team-into-a-post-pandemic-world
* All information was correct at the time of publication.