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When "business as usual", isn't:

March 13, 2020|Change, Crisis, Leadership

What Coronavirus reminds us about orgnizational change.

Organizations and communities everywhere are making dramatic changes in response to the Coronavirus. Protecting our employees, our most valuable assets as organizations, is so important. Your organization may be limiting travel, cancelling or postponing large events, asking people to work remotely, or temporarily closing.

While this is an extreme situation, how organizations respond to issues like this is an exercise in managing organizational change. At the simplest level, change is going from current state (or status quo) to future state (something different), and the goal of change management is to get to that future state successfully, and with the least disruption as possible. Change is happening everyday, so you can struggle through it, or manage it well.

So what can you so to help ensure this change effort, whatever that means for you, goes successfully? Build a change strategy and equip your leaders to lead through it!

As an example, let’s say that your organization is asking all your employees to work remotely. What might you need to do to make that happen with minimal business disruption? Build a plan that helps your team through the phases of the change process!

Regardless of how many people are impacted, organizational change happens on an

individual level and each individual needs 5 things: awareness, desire, knowledge, ability and reinforcement. For this change, you might build awareness and desire by sharing information on the gravity of the virus and what we can do to slow the spread. You’d ensure everyone was equipped with the tools (laptops, internet, etc) to work remotely, and perhaps provide learning on how to run effective virtual meetings. Finally, you might reinforce the change by recognizing individuals that are doing this well.

This is an overly simplified example of what’s a fairly large, and hopefully very temporary, change. Two general things I’d recommend to every organization:

  1. If you’re over your head with a change in front of you, get help! Don’t put your business at risk by trying to muscle through it.

  2. Want to build your ability to handle change better in the future? Start equipping your managers to lead through it!

Have any tips on what people can do to make changes like these successful? Please comment below, we’d love to hear them. Hope you all stay safe and healthy!

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