By Mark Samuel –
This is part 4 in a 4-part series to help organizations navigate re-entry after the initial impact of COVID-19.
If you’re just joining the conversation, don’t miss the valuable information shared in Part 1: Learning from the Virtual Environment and the Effects of COVID-19, Part 2: Creating an Outcome-Driven Plan for Initial Re-Entry, & Part 3: Adapting Your Re-Entry Approach.
Part 4: Solidifying Your Culture During and After Re-entry
The best time to reshape your culture is during a crisis. Why? Because everyone’s habits of thought and behavior are already disrupted, and the best way to change a habit is to replace it with a new one. Notice how many habits of thought, belief, behavior and action changed almost instantly out of necessity due to the constraints (and fear) of COVID-19.
Also notice how many people are already reverting back to their old habits as states begin to ease safer-at-home orders or simply as people are getting antsy. The natural tendency is to go back to normal. But normal has changed, and it continues to change with or without coronavirus. This pandemic has only made the need for change more obvious and pushed us past areas of our beliefs, behaviors, and actions that were stuck in an old paradigm.
Every organization will have the opportunity to use re-entry as a “do-over” for their culture to rise above the standards of the organization prior to the pandemic. Your old culture and paradigm was your A State. You have the opportunity to use this crisis as a launching pad for your new B STATE – your breakthrough state. You have the opportunity to lead based on Purpose and Desired Outcomes rather than outdated policies and procedures that keep you inflexible and stuck. You have the opportunity to be accountable for producing results rather than putting in unnecessary effort or time. You have the opportunity to turn communication from sharing information to making human connection. You have the opportunity to change your meetings from status updates to opportunities to solve meaningful challenges and achieving outcomes. And you have the opportunity to create a culture of caring, trust, and teamwork within and across functional teams.
There are three steps to solidifying your culture upon re-entry:
Step 1: What new habits do you want to inspire and reinforce upon re-entry?
- Habits for leadership
- Habits for communication
- Habits for decision making
- Habits for meetings
- Habits for focusing on outcomes
- Habits for transparency and connection
- Habits for holding yourself and others accountable in a caring and productive way
- Habits for teamwork
- Habits for cross-functional planning, coordination, and problem solving
Step 2: Get your leadership aligned – both senior and middle management
- Virtual or in-person executive and middle management team-building focused on getting aligned on direction for re-entry and implementing and operationalizing new habits of leadership
- Developing communication and support plans for engaging the entire workforce with an inspired vision of the future and new habits to fuel the new vision
- Establish a regular communication strategy like what was developed during quarantine that keeps employees informed, participating in, and contributing to the culture upon the return to the workplace
Step 3: Execute Your Plan with Back Up Scenarios and Proactive Recovery Plans
- Keep people informed as you go and set up your employees to receive information on a frequent and regular basis to make adjustments
- Identify the key indicators you will track to determine if Proactive Recovery Plans need to be implemented or if you need to switch direction to another Scenario you planned
- Remember, there is no getting it wrong, only making adjustments as you get new information
Step 4: Track Results and New Habits and Share Your Progress with Recognition to All Employees
- Keep everyone informed so they feel included in the change effort
- Transparently share what worked and didn’t work to create a new environment based on trust, openness, and cooperation without punishment for taking educated risks
- Keep people inspired by reflecting on your original vision, even if you have to change scenarios or implement Proactive Recovery Plans
- Celebrate success – even the small wins.
This is an exciting time and an opportunity to change the game for your organization in a positive way. Let us know how your organization does with re-entry and we will give you a shout out and share your success with others, anonymously if you prefer or in support of your brand.
Click below to jump to other parts of this series:
Part 1: Learning From the Virtual Environment and the Effects of COVID-19
Part 2: Creating an Outcome-Driven Plan for Initial Re-Entry
Part 3: Adapting Your Re-Entry Approach