January 29, 2021
Navigate work disruption, shift priorities, and adapt to change with work management
For many business leaders, 2020 has brought the biggest tests of their careers, forcing them to pivot, adapt, and devise new ways of working during the twin crises of a global pandemic and political unrest.
It’s not easy to keep teams engaged, focused, connected, and productive throughout truly unprecedented change. Cultivating a cohesive, aligned, collaborative company culture that ladders everyone’s work back to the strategic goals of the organization—and doing it all within a virtual setting—is crucial.
In our Mighty Guide “8 Experts on Navigating Work Disruption,” industry experts share tips for building resiliency and maintaining productivity during a crisis. One piece of advice came back again and again: harness the power of a work management solution to communicate clearly and transparently, lead with empathy and humanity, and engage employee ingenuity in remote settings.
“You want to be able to use the internal intelligence of your employees to address the stage you’re in,” explained Antonio Vieira Santos, Business Evangelist at Atos. “Consider establishing a place where everyone can come together to share ideas about solutions or even raise concerns about issues the business can solve.”
Communicate clearly and transparently.
During challenging times, staff generally respect leaders that are open and honest with them more than those that try to pretend everything is fine.
“Particularly when the crisis is as far reaching as the one we’re currently in,” says David D’Souza, Director of Membership at CIPD, “it creates incredible uncertainty for people as they come into a working environment. If a leader says, ‘Oh no, I understand it. I’ve got this under control,’ it won’t work because no one can believe that. Be honest about the limits of your knowledge and understanding while at the same time giving people confidence that they’re in capable hands.”
One way to instill confidence in the midst of uncertainty is to proactively highlight what is working. When team members see that leaders are willing to transparently confront the good, the bad, and the ugly, trust increases. “Great leaders communicate early and often,” says Dion Hinchcliffe, VP and Principal Analyst at Constellation Research. “During a crisis, they ask people to tell them when good things are happening. Then, they use those messages to show the rest of the organization that people just like them are successfully navigating the challenges and sharing their approaches to help others succeed.”
Lead with empathy and humanity.
“It’s important to implement programs that make the work of doing work a bit easier,” says Laurie Ruettimann, founder of LFR LLC, “but in turbulent times, it’s also important to double down on being radically human.” This includes acknowledging and validating employees’ fears, being honest about expectations for working from home (and being lenient when possible), and ensuring the right technology is in place to keep the team connected no matter how far apart they are.
Jeanne Meister, Managing Partner of Future Workplace LLC, weighs in with specific advice for prioritizing employee wellbeing. “We have to be much more prescriptive in providing guidance and suggestions for what we can do as individual workers and what managers of teams can do to promote well-being,” she says. She recommends gathering resources like podcasts and reading lists to address the challenges team members are facing, sending out surveys to gauge employee burnout and other issues, and adjusting organizational benefits and rewards in ways that address these issues—like extending paid leave or carrying over vacation time.
Engage employee ingenuity.
Collaborative work management solutions have been particularly effective in helping businesses navigate this year’s disruptions by enabling team collaboration, ideation, and problem solving at scale. Work management solutions enable business leaders to keep individuals and teams aligned to shifting strategies and goals. Dion Hinchcliffe, VP and Principal Analyst at Constellation Research, refers to these solutions as “connective tissue between your workers and your company” that not only offer transparency to all workers, they also give everyone a voice.
“Most leaders fail to call on the full ingenuity of their most important assets—their employees, their partners, and their customers,” Hinchcliffe says. “You need to tap into wellsprings of innovation to survive, revive, and then grow.”
Emerge stronger than before.
It has been a trying year for us all, but businesses that have been leveraging the power of work management have continued to connect strategy to delivery, integrate people and data, and manage work from start to finish—remotely. These businesses have remained resilient and productive, and will emerge stronger than before and ready to make their comeback in 2021.
To read more about what the eight industry experts advised businesses do to navigate work disruption, download the full Mighty Guide.