Career Tips

Keep your people close – even when they can’t be in the same room

As we race headlong into the fast moving maze of COVID-19 and global economic volatility, many organisations are running up against their own set of unconventional, if not unprecedented challenges.

Keep your people close

Core principles for leading and managing change in times of complexity

As we race headlong into the fast moving maze of COVID-19 and global economic volatility, many organisations are running up against their own set of unconventional, if not unprecedented challenges.

Leading and managing change within complexity and ambiguity is certainly not new. But leaders, and especially HR and people leaders, may be finding these dynamics playing out more frequently in the difficult choices and decisions they have to make – now and into the future.

A career spent working closely with organisations and individuals as they navigate change has given me the opportunity to watch and learn from some of the best. An obvious but important observation from this time in the trenches is that ‘how’ an organisation achieves whatever changes may be necessary really matters.

People’s ability to accept and adapt to an outcome, whatever it may mean for them, is highly dependent on the process that got them there. There’s no magic formula for this. The right approach is going to be as unique as the circumstances and individuals involved.

But maintaining communication and connection with your people through the change journey is key. And this is going to be easier said than done whilst the standard ‘go to’ communication channels of team and town hall meetings, at least in a physical format, are now off limits.

So how do you keep your people close when you can’t have them in the same room?

Of course, technology has a big role to play here. And this is a business adjustment keeping FlexCareers busy as they support organisations and individuals to build the skills, processes and cultures that underpin remote and flexible working as business as usual.

But as leaders, it should be reassuring to know that regardless of the means, maintaining effective communication and connection through this challenging time will still rely on some core principles we can all apply:

  • Be visible and accessible: It’s not easy when there is so much going on and so many new or different tasks to juggle. But try to keep those lines of communication open and the reassurance of your presence felt – in whatever form that takes.
  • Be open and transparent: Without getting yourself and others in a tangle over the ‘known unknowns and the unknown-unknowns’, be clear and open in communicating what you do know and what can be done, while acknowledging what remains unclear or unconfirmed. Otherwise people will pick up on flimsy or false assurances and fill in the gaps, generally adding in an (un)healthy dose of rumour and innuendo to boot.
  • Look after yourself and support others to do the same: When things get busy we can all fall into the trap of letting our wellbeing resources drop away. Exercise, nutrition and relationships can all take a hit. In both what you say, and what you do, remind those around you that these things matter, even when we are all working remotely. Wellbeing is an important part of what ultimately underpins individual and organisational effectiveness.

These truths may sound simple but in these challenging times, I think we can all do with a quick reminder. Please keep communicating and stay connected.


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