Australia's 3rd Largest Economy

Managing through the pandemic and coming out the other side

21-Apr-2020 11:05 | Tracy Dawson (Administrator)

If anyone is like me, they are most probably sick of hearing the word Coronavirus. However, our journey through the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. Whilst we are seeing positive signs of the spread slowing and the possible relaxing of restrictions, we still need a vaccine to provide certainty that work will return to some form of normality.

Leading into Easter I found myself feeling very low on energy and now having time to reflect, regroup and refocus I am now ready to manage through the pandemic and come out stronger on the other side.

  • But what does the other side look like?
  • How can we be ready to take advantage of the opportunities that may present themselves?

The last few weeks we have spent time helping our clients design strategies for every known situation that we could think of:

  • Plan a) Nothing changes – Hold steady and do what we do and weather the storm
  • Plan b) Restrictions in place – How do we adapt to the changes and continue to operate?
  • Plan c) Total shut down – How do I stop my business from bleeding to death?
  • Plan d) I need a new plan - None of the above will work for me. What should I do next?

From changes that were happening daily to a more considered approach, people are now feeling less overwhelmed and are starting to look at options more rationally and calmly.

One of the great things is that we have readily available volumes of information in addition to a number of Government assistance packages for employees and employers. However, this information is not easy to digest, then using it to form a strategy to help you and your employees manage through the pandemic and come out the other side.

The recent changes to work have got me thinking about the parallels between the current situation and the GFC. Prior to the GFC the unemployment rate in Australia was 5.1% the lowest since 1976 and in November 2019 the unemployment rate was just 5.2%. Prior to the GFC and COVID-19 the economy was in great shape, but as the history books have documented the GFC was tough and took us a long time to recover. Some may argue that we never did really fully recover and as a result our workplaces were changed forever. It is highly likely we are again facing the same situation of reviewing how we work.

Remember the” War for Talent” prior to the GFC where this is all we talked about. We put strategies in place to ensure that companies had a sustained pipeline of talent, then after the GFC investment in these initiatives disappeared. Was the “War for Talent” won or simply put on the back burner and as technologies changed it became too hard to keep up with? Prior to COVID-19 we spoke a lot about ‘the Future of Work” which has been thrust upon us much quicker than we had planned. Learning from the GFC how did companies manage through and continue to grow and be successful through times of crisis?

At ChandlerWoods we use a contextualised version of Dr Robert Cooke’s Human Synergistics model on Organisational Culture to assess organisational effectiveness. The model highlights the drivers for organisational culture stemming from Cause to Effect. The model highlights the need to assess and address the causal factors first before you can achieve your desired outcomes. For example, to become more innovative, we need to ensure the environment is created to support and sustain an innovative culture. Simply attending a course on innovation will not drive a prolonged innovative culture.

In 2010 Dr Robert Cooke studied financial data on earnings/sales ratios of 69 publicly traded corporations in various industries over a preceding three-year period. The results as documented in the book “In Great Company” 2011 (Jones, Dunphy, Fishman et al) showed a positive correlation between constructive cultures and profitability. They also found that there was a high correlation between companies with predominantly Aggressive/Defensive cultures and high levels of sales volitivity. This was predominantly due to Aggressive/Defensive cultures tending to focus on short-term transactions and relationships to drive earnings. Constructive cultures on the other hand tend to be in contrast focused on long-term strategies and relationships with sustainable revenue growth.

Relationship between Earnings/Sales ratios and culture (Dr Robert Cooke’s findings)

Strengths of culture Earnings Sales Ratios (n=69)
Constructive   .217
Passive/Defensive   .094
Aggressive/Defensive   -.074

Furthermore, Dr Cooke describes constructive cultures as being mission oriented, inclusive with a real emphasis on cooperation. A result of these behaviours was greater levels of engagement and cooperation by employees and most importantly in today’s environment, the ‘increased capacity to adapt to the changing market place through innovation and productivity. Does this look like a logical place to start for businesses wanting to push through the storm rather than trying to ride it out?

Due to COVID-19 we are now adapting to the new normal of working remotely, businesses are thinking about what the future of work looks like in order to ensure they can be best placed to operate their businesses successfully and sustainably.

Many businesses have been forced to accept the new normal and this has created some challenges as organisations can no longer look at their traditional ways of how they manage their people. Examples such as how to foster teamwork with a remotely dispersed team, setting credible and achievable goals, remotely managing staff performance and keeping them engaged requires a different approach to leadership.

To be able to navigate in the new world of business, organisations need to be able to have answers on how to best manage their most critical resource, their people. This raises two questions:

1. What’s your plan?

2. Do you have the right talent for your business to take advantage of the opportunities that may come out of this crisis?

Forbes recently published an article called ‘The bright side of COVID-19: Seven Opportunities of the current pandemic” in which they state:

1. More time – to do the things we have been putting off

2. Reflect and reconsider – how we do things and why?

3. Speed and innovation – breaking through rigid systems and complex bureaucracies

4. Better meetings – outcome based and no time wasters

5. Reconnect and help - social bonding “we are all in this together”

6. Cleaner Environment – significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions

7. Modesty and acceptance – no matter how well we plan we are not in control of the crisis

If we are to manage through the pandemic and come out stronger on the other side and have a successful and sustainable business, all the supporting research certainly helps, but ultimately, it’s up to you.

There is quote which I think is very appropriate to the situation we are now facing:

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” — Theodore Roosevelt, 26th U.S. president.

In summary:

1. What’s your plan?

2. Do you have the right talent for your business to take advantage of the opportunities that may come out of this crisis?

You can be sure our method works….

Our contextualised organisational effectiveness model assesses both the Drivers for Change, such as your current environment, innovation and what are your competitors doing differently as well as the Casual Factors, the way you do things in your organisation.

Contact ChandlerWoods today to see how we can help you manage through the pandemic and come out stronger on the other side.

Or call:

Melissa Powick – 0412 606 552

Richard Brincat - 0418 485 876

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