The 2021 CEO surveys, business guru interviews, and forecasts on post-COVID business strategy contain some consistent themes for what businesses will be focusing on to drive growth – or simply to survive – post-pandemic:
- Innovate and launch new products and services
- Seek operational efficiencies and productivity gains
- Revisit pricing
- Differentiate through branding
- Improve the customer experience
- Invest in talent.
Sound familiar? Evergreen strategies for success.
So, what’s really going to be different as businesses start seeing the post-pandemic light?
Frankly, we are. The whole lot of us.
The pandemic has caused many of us to revisit the priority of our work against other aspects of our lives. Some have taken the time to rediscover their “why” and will bring this new enlightenment to the workplace. Having had time to think about the job and company, there are those who have a few things to say – all productive, of course. And almost everyone has established new habits and ways of operating that we’re comfortable can be sustained long-term. After all, they’ve been getting us through the crisis, haven’t they?
Incorporating this personal impact aspect into your business’s change management plan will enable you to acknowledge and address it as you communicate your go-forward strategy and ask your team to get engaged.
Consider these key tenets within your change management communications:
You’ve been living the pandemic experience as well – not just as a business leader but as a person. Share how you’ve managed through it. Acknowledge feelings and potential concerns. Be transparent about what keeps you up at night as everyone starts to transition to the post-pandemic world.
Continue to share the importance of the mental and physical wellbeing of your employees. Your company may routinely stress health and safety in the workplace – it’s time to make it more personal. Seek the input of your employees on what they need to demonstrate your commitment in ways that matter.
Don’t leave employees wondering about what’s happening and when. Be clear about what does and doesn’t change going forward. Reinforce business priorities, values and expectations. Be repetitive so your message gets heard. Be generous with recognizing individuals, and teams, who shine and highlight the company’s successes. When improvement is needed, offer specific ways employees can help.
Communicate your new strategy with a sense of urgency.
Make the case for change and give proof points on why employees should have a sense of urgency. Are the financials pointing to the need to review your product line? Does the data show a drop in customer loyalty? Are your competitors bringing new innovations that disrupt your business model? Perhaps you’re one of the lucky businesses that is overachieving during the pandemic, but you’ve identified headwinds that could start slowing business down. Bring the data forward to create a compelling case for the “why” and the “what” and ask them to engage in “how” you will get things done.
Make it easy for employees to contribute.
People inherently want to make a difference. Communicate opportunities for employees to share their ideas, join special teams, collaborate on projects and be part of two-way communications channels. Utilize technology to make it easy for everyone, especially remote workers.
Stay tuned-in to employees for the long-term.
Keep a pulse on employee engagement in formal and informal ways. Periodic engagement surveys benchmark progress and identify pain points that need to be addressed. Encouraging feedback and listening for cues in daily conversations can reveal opportunities to remove barriers, dispel erroneous information and offer support.
Post-pandemic, the change management needed to execute your strategy must be more robust and address the personal impact that the pandemic has had on people’s lives. Good communications will be critical. Acknowledge and embrace the fact that employees have changed. Incorporate empathy, messaging, and relevant actions to drive higher levels of engagement.