When the COVID-19 crisis first erupted, organisations were plunged into such uncertainty it was hard for many to know whether they would emerge intact. Though the road ahead remains challenging, enlightened leadership concerns are shifting from ‘whether we can survive’ to ‘how do we emerge stronger’. Just four months into the COVID-19 crisis, we reached out to several business leaders to find out what tactical responses had worked for them to distil valuable lessons for other business leaders in realtime, when they needed it most.
Our research uncovered success stemming from tactical responses that converged into these three broad categories:
Leader as a Facilitator
Organisations with leaders who responded with empathy and humility to learn, acted with decisiveness, and facilitated (not controlled) their shared plans led their teams well through the uncertainties. It was only with high levels of trust, empowerment, and information exchange that these leaders could manage geographically spread out teams and individuals without the paralyzing effects of isolation as they entered the Circuit Breaker period.
Leaning on Culture and Employee Engagement
Organisations that invested in their cultures and in employee engagement initiatives created a strong reservoir of goodwill, from which they could muster discretionary effort from. This helps an organisation to push through difficult times together. A global financial institution specifically leaned into their culture value of innovation and saw how staff were able to find creative solutions and workarounds during circuit breaker period so businesses and teams could continue to serve their customers with minimal disruption.
A Dynamic Learning Organisation
What has been consistent in our research was the long-term orientation leaders took with respect to upskilling and preparing themselves and their employees to build capabilities that are not only fit-for-today but fit-forfuture. One organisation spoke of how their pre-crisis digital training helped older workers quickly adapt to Zoom as a collaboration tool from home without help because they no longer had a fear of technology. Notably, these organisations continue to train during this lull period, believing a crisis is a smart use of time to accelerate their business transformation agenda.
Interestingly, our research also discovered the broader strategic orientation of leaders that allowed them to respond with such agility to COVID-19. These include a constant desire to transform their businesses, not to be ever more efficient and profitable as an end goal in itself, but to become more and more adept at responding to their customers with a deep motivation to create impact through their shared purpose.
One way they were able to focus their efforts was to bring both business and people leaders together to discuss priorities and surface specific capability needs that would be necessary for the execution of their business ambitions.
All our business leaders benefitted from the structured process embedded in IHRP’S Human Capital Diagnostic Tool (HCDT). In fact, one had even deployed the tool twice, each time using the analysis from the tool to reinvent themselves, identifying Human Capital interventions that aimed to create the right outcomes for its changing business needs.
We found that the tool was most effective when used as an agent of business transformation prior to a crisis. Consistently, leaders interviewed pointed to how the HCDT had made significant contributions to the preparedness of their companies as they entered the crisis from a stronger position.
When companies undergo diagnostics, leaders receive an independent review from a qualified assessor, sharing their human capital process maturity levels with industry benchmarks. They also obtain insightful perception survey results on how employees are benefitting from these processes. Plotting the evidence and perception scores of perceptions of internal stakeholders on a grid, we can determine the effectiveness of current HR implementations and determine where resources can be focused on, to drive greater future value to the business and its transformation efforts.
If you are a business leader also looking into leveraging on your human capital to accelerate through this crisis, reach out to us for a complimentary advisory Human Capital Health-check at firstname.lastname@example.org.