Planning in time of Crisis

In times of crisis, people depend on leaders to provide clarity and hope. Fear can be contagious, breeding irrational behaviour and anxiety – and in business, this can lead to lower productivity and employee engagement.

Starting as a localised issue, the coronavirus (COVID-19) has now reached most nations, impacting organisations across the globe – with dire consequences. Already, thousands of people have died, hundreds of thousands have become ill and health services have been stressed way beyond their capacity. For most, the pandemic – and response to it – will be the most significant, and most concerning, event they have experienced.

It has cost organisations billions of dollars in lost revenue (potentially up to $1.1 trillion by the end of 20201 ). It is clear it will result in a significant drop in economic growth around the world. At this stage of the COVID-19 outbreak, organisations need to deal with two equally important factors – keeping employees and their families safe, and ensuring business continuity as much as possible. Leaders are scrambling to secure supplies, keep fearful employees motivated to work, and planning for the future while dealing with the here and now. But eventually, like other Black Swan events, the virus will end. And when it does, organisations need to be ready. In today’s turbulent world, some organisations have become better at planning for and mitigating against risk in the face of a crisis.

They have resiliencie built into their structure. But for many others, this could be a time of confusion, fear, and rash decision-making. Unfortunately, in our increasingly ambiguous, volatile and inter-connected world, unanticipated events like this are likely to happen more frequently – and leaders will need to be more agile, transparent, and forward thinking. These attributes will be key to navigating 2020, which is likely to be a year of two halves. The first will be spent dealing with safety, containment, continuity, and contingency planning – a time for prudent, agile leadership. For those that can keep productivity high, and employees engaged and motivated during this first half, the next phase will be centred around taking advantage of the pent-up demand in the global economy through incentives, recruitment, and innovation.

Although the two halves of 2020 will look very different, it is impossible to do well in any cycle without thinking about and planning for the next one.

For organisations to respond now and plan for recovery, they must learn to operate in a state of constant disruption. In a time of unknowns, one thing is certain: what has worked in the past is unlikely to keep working in the future. New habits are forming quickly people are working from home and consuming products and entertainment in very different ways out of necessity. Building a culture that not only tolerates this shift but thrives in it will separate the winners from the losers. This may mean thinking differently about performance and target setting, to keep teams motivated and ensure everyone works collectively for a shared purpose – even when working remotely. It will certainly demand a proactive and empathetic communication response from leaders, who will need to consciously demonstrate the values and behaviours they wish to encourage across the organisation.


Now is the time for adaptive leaders

In times of crisis, people depend on leaders to provide clarity and hope. Fear can be contagious, breeding irrational behaviour and anxiety – and in business, this can lead to lower productivity and employee engagement.


Making the case for change

Sometimes it takes a crisis to force change upon us and make us re-think our assumptions. The current pandemic is a true test of any organisation’s culture – how well its people and systems can operate under unanticipated pressure.


From emergency response to greater resilience

The true test of any organisational culture or leader lies in how your people perform through challenging times.

Performance and rewards:

Re-thinking plans through times of crisis

Employee rewards and performance management plans keep your talent motivated, engaged, and aligned with business objectives. In uncertain times, this is more important than ever – and organisations need to avoid making rash, short-term decisions that could lead to future retention challenges.


Building resilience into your talent pipeline

Over the past decade, the war for talent has been everpresent. This is no different when times are challenging – every organisation needs the right people to adapt to unanticipated change and ensure business continuity

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