What are the Key Factors that will Define Successful Organisations in the Post Covid World?
Our world changed dramatically in 2020 when the Covid 19 pandemic became a major global threat to lives and livelihoods. In the UK, apart from the large number of lives both lost and blighted from the disease, the last 12 months have seen a seismic shift in the employment landscape with the closure of thousands of shops and hospitality venues, and businesses both large and small going out of business.
Sadly huge numbers of people have lost their jobs and livelihoods. The education and life chances of millions of young people have been severely impacted and the NHS, the UK’s largest employer, has been tested to its limit. The emergence of a VUCA world (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) has suddenly accelerated beyond all prediction and few are prepared for it.
There are no quick fixes to solve these problems. The UK government is making significant efforts to support jobs and the economy (it depends on your political viewpoint as to whether this is enough, too much or too little) and is commencing a Help to Grow Initiative in 2021, including UK wide investment in leadership and mentoring training and development. Most of us would agree that this can only be a good thing. The road back to prosperity, particularly post-Brexit, will be through the success and innovation of UK business and commerce, generating new jobs and sustainable growth.
Coaching Roadmap to Support your Team
In the post-Covid world, from our perspective three key factors will define successful organisations:
- bold and visionary leadership that communicates a clear and inspirational future
- effective management practices to develop and monitor new and effective ways of working
- innovative approaches that facilitate, through coaching, the discretionary effort of employees, many of whom will be struggling to come to terms with the post-Covid workplace
These three factors are like the legs on a three-legged stool and without all three legs appropriately developed, the stool is likely to collapse.
Over the last twelve months, the leadership leg has been particularly important as a key part of leadership is the enabling of employees to look forward to the future without dwelling too much on the anxieties of the present. The holding of ‘organisational anxiety’ is a much under-rated aspect of leadership and is borne out of genuine concern and care for employees and the organisation’s capacity to stay afloat.
The nautical metaphor can be extended to the leader being the captain of the vessel, and whose accountabilities include the health and safety of the crew, communicating a clear destination, and ensuring that everyone plays their part in keeping the vessel on course. To maintain the metaphor for a moment, many vessels/organisations have been in dry dock in 2020, with crew/employees doing little as they have been on furlough. Now the time has come to leave harbour, and leaders must ensure that everyone on board is clear about where the vessel is going, what new rules, processes and systems are in place and how these will be managed. Crucially the organisation must help everyone on board to play their part with renewed energy, commitment, and hope for the future.
However, some organisations might be at risk of under-estimating the effort required to make sure that everyone is ‘on board’ and ready and able to play their part. The last 12 months have taken a significant toll on many people’s mental and physical health, knocked their confidence, sapped their resilience, and reduced their ‘bouncebackability’.
Many employees who were flying high before 2020 have lost their jobs, their confidence, or their performance edge. Many may lack the skills or the flexibility that new ways of working will demand. Anxiety about the future is still pervasive as issues arise around the pros and cons of home/remote-working, the future of commuting, and the widespread adoption of technology such as video conferencing - with all its possibilities as well as its potential drawbacks.
The Importance of Coaching through Challenge
Fortunately, there is a powerful approach to help with these issues - coaching.
We are all unique individuals and in each of us there lies the power and resource to work through and tackle with commitment and resolve any challenge that we face.
Coaching is a highly effective way of drawing on the power, resource and resolve that we all have, either individually or collectively, without having to be directed or manipulated.
Coaching creates a strong sense of personal discovery and ownership which allows individuals and teams to feel empowered, resourceful, and capable of taking relevant action.
Organisations which adopt a coaching approach to leadership and management will be far more likely to capitalise on the discretionary effort and goodwill of employees and in the years ahead this will be a significant competitive advantage in every way.
Many workplaces and businesses will adopt remote working as the norm, and far more emphasis will be placed on individuals and teams working remotely from home or in local hubs. Discretionary effort, trust and building effective non-hierarchical working relationships will take precedence over instruction, management oversight and hierarchical lines of communication and control.
This has major implications for leaders and managers and the skills they now need for the future. Just as Covid 19 has rapidly accelerated a VUCA world, so the skills needed to lead and manage in this emerging new world are now urgently pressing, and many managers will feel uneasy as their traditional hierarchical power rapidly gives way to facilitating and empowering others at a distance.
These skills are about creating goals and vision, relationship building, developing trust, facilitating honest conversations, giving and receiving feedback and developing a learning and calculated risk-taking culture.
These are all coaching skills which can be learned and practised with great results from Day One, which is fortunate as these skills are no longer ‘nice to have’ but essential now to ensure survival and sustainable performance.
If you are a leader or manager reading this and thinking ‘perhaps we will start doing this in six months’ time …’ then word of caution, 6 months maybe too late!
The pandemic has created a seismic shift which in turn has generated a massive wave of change. Organisations that empower their staff to ride this wave will be big winners, and coaching is the board on which they will need to do it. So do not delay get on board now!
Sign up for one of our coaching skills programmes or connect with us to discuss how we can help you at an individual, team or organisational level.