Keys to maintain organisational efficiency and effectiveness amidst a crisis

The author believes that fostering a culture of belonging, being empathetic, promoting work-life balance, upskilling employees and sharing feedback are crucial for an organisation in times of crisis.

Around the world, businesses of small and large scale alike are reeling from the effects of the current global health crisis. Through decades of experience across industries in India and other global markets, I can confidently say that businesses that sail through a crisis, always emerge stronger than ever before.

With the deeply felt desire to hit the resume button in life, the pandemic has brought about substantial circumstantial changes positively impacting organisational culture.

Traditional set-ups have evolved into new-age organisations while younger entities have firmed up protocols to boost performance in conformity with the ‘new normal’. Therefore, learning and re-tooling are very important to not just recover but also build a sustainable and resilient business for the future.

After all, when there is a storm at sea, the fishermen repair their nets, right? This mantra couldn’t get any more real for organisations and their leadership in today’s challenging business environment.

So here’s my secret recipe to keep the house in order and boost an organisation’s effectiveness through a crisis:

Prioritise accountability over hours spent

Social distancing jolted the entire world into confinement within their homes, shifting a majority of the workforce into remote working setups. Besides being working professionals, some employees are also parents taking care of their children’s education that’s gone online, some could be parents to a newborn, some could be taking care of their ailing parents or people or family members who have tested positive.

Organisations need to be empathetic towards their employees and invest more in their wellbeing while they work remotely.

One should focus on building a culture of ownership and responsibility, wherein every team member is held accountable for their deliverables, rather than measuring their performance against the daily hours spent completing a task.

Ensuring a great work-life balance is as important as the company’s top line. It is important to lead with empathy, allow employees flexibility, motivate and enable them to pursue new hobbies as well as positively contribute to their life outside of work by allowing them access to discounted wellness and fitness programmes. Facetime with senior leaders and rewarding top performers are also good practices to build a great work culture.

Stop managing, start leading

Any crisis is a test case for leadership, and this pandemic has truly witnessed the survival of those organisations that have been able to adapt to these dynamic times. During such unprecedented times, seniors should rise from day-to-day people management to leading by example and sharing the same vision.

As a leader, one should set standards for their subordinates, simultaneously helping them meet those benchmarks. Moreover, making strategic changes to the roles of individuals can direct and shape the brand’s journey.

In such times, it is essential to showcase thought leadership and network with peers by participating in leadership forums, group discussions, and webinars which will drive some innovative business ideas and regain customers’ confidence. Also, conducting unplugged knowledge sharing sessions with employees will help in enhancing their overall professional productivity.

Stay available for your team

Disruptions can leave employees demotivated and confused, especially during a crisis of this magnitude. In the past, one could just walk over to the workstations of their colleagues, seniors or managers, if they faced any difficulty, needed assistance or wished to discuss any professional or personal matter.

Such open-door systems helped in generating a sense of belongingness among the workforce, and they felt that the organisation is always available. However, in the new normal, individuals need to make a phone call for the fulfilment of their needs, making it seem like a roadblock and leaving them perplexed.

To avoid the same, managers must ensure that everyone is on a live message group, open to discussions, frequent team catch-ups.

Organise fun employee engagement activities

While work meetings are important, it is also important to engage employees in fun team bonding sessions.

Employees are the most valuable asset for organisations across the board. In the wake of the nation-wide lockdown, and the subsequent work-from-home culture, there has been an increase in the monotony faced by the workforce.

To break this spell and keep them motivated, companies must find innovative ways to connect, communicate and celebrate with their team members.

Time should be blocked for such activities, and equal importance should be given to their execution. Additionally, some exciting benefits such as health insurance, flexible work timings, shorter working weeks, support for holistic career development, and other benefits ensure a good work-life balance.

Share feedback over a cup of coffee

Feedback is that aspect of a senior-subordinate relationship that promotes a sense of trust, acceptance, growth and improvement between both the parties. Regular and mutually beneficial performance reports help employees understand their strengths as well as identify their weaknesses.

Further, it enables the managers to understand discrepancies and find solutions to avoid them. In the current times, as the entire work environment and methodology has changed, one must increasingly focus on feedback. Not only will these allow organisations to monitor performance but it will also provide insight in matters such as employee’s mental health, attitude and adaptation to the new set-up.

Facetime with leadership

During hours of crisis, communication is not just essential to understand how the employees are dealing with the current situation, rather it is a primary activity which could help steer the organisation through such difficulties.

Clear and transparent communication with leadership has a two-way benefit. It enables the employees to understand the direction in which the company is moving and the plans it has in store for the future. On the other hand, it allows the leadership to understand the mind-set of their subordinates and consequently devise strategies to achieve employee satisfaction.

Hence, organising regular town halls, especially now more than ever, will foster symbiotic relations between the workforce and the management.

Upskilling to stay relevant

To enhance work-from-home or work-from-anywhere, organisations need to enable its people with innovative technological solutions, enable seamless communication between team members and ensure performance metrics.

Further, employees should be encouraged to learn new skills and expand their horizon by engaging in new forms of knowledge acquisition. There exists a pressing need to cater to the evolving digital transformations.

This is the right time to formulate new ideas and implement innovative strategies to sustain operations. Whether it is digitising the complete business model or implementing modern digital elements in certain operational areas, companies must adapt to this shift promptly and seamlessly.

The current focus should be on innovation, problem-solving, and staying agile.

During such times, organisations must stay updated on the latest developments across industry and keep up with evolving guidelines from the government in order to modify and plan further strategies. Additionally, today, understanding evolving consumer demands is more important than ever. While technology is important, it is only an enabler to listening and understanding consumer concerns, worries, requirements and aspirations.

As always, I firmly believe that organisations must focus on consumer experience, and then, subsequently let the technology follow. Businesses can achieve this through surveys, consumer use cases, gauging the market response and emerging trends to stay ahead of the curve.

Moreover, collaborating with trustworthy partners and vendors in new ways can help to achieve extraordinary impact and revive operations through mutual support by leveraging each other’s expertise.

As the world moves forward, let us strive to emerge stronger from this crisis, but the buck doesn’t stop here. Signing off with a thought to ponder upon, with borrowed words from the legend (Steve Jobs) himself, “What’s next?”

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)


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