Five new management rules for the post-pandemic era

The writer is the author of ‘How to Be a Better Leader’ and a visiting professor at Bayes Business School, City, University of London

A learning institution, wrote Peter Senge in Fifth Disciplemore than 30 years ago, is a place where people “constantly expand their capabilities to produce the results they truly want.” Not every business can achieve that. But it would be a pity if the experiences of the past 18 months did not lead to some valuable experiences and fresh thinking.

How leaders and managers can change their approach to work based on pandemic caused by corona virus? Here are five ideas to consider as we rebuild.

Recalibrate your (human) algorithm

These are difficult days for those who want to return to “business as usual”: there is nothing normal in the Covid era and there is no “new normal”.

Instead of repressing memories of difficult days, we can learn from them. Jon Stokes, leadership consultant at consulting firm Stokes & Jolly, said the vulnerability some senior managers experienced during the crisis could be valuable. “Colleagues must be open and share their concerns in a way they may not have done in the past,” he said.

“This will lead to productive conversations and collaborations. Leaders in organizations tend to be high achievers who find it difficult to acknowledge vulnerability. But innovation comes from acknowledging that there are things you don’t know, that need to be discovered,” he added.

There is also evidence that we learn more in times of stress. A few years ago at then-Ashridge Business School, Eve Poole and her colleagues ran a simulation in which executives were presented with a series of management dilemmas while connected to a heart monitor. Learning assessments performed three and six months later showed a correlation between increased heart rate and improved learning.

Poole says that delegates learn better under pressure. As she explains in a talk with Ted, learning is faster because of increased cognitive function and longer lasting because memories are tied to emotions. Some managers may be attracted to automation and the processing power of artificial intelligence. But a more human response to the post-Covid era will rely on emotional memory to refine human judgment and spot opportunities.

Combined work

According to William Eccleshare, the outgoing CEO of Clear Channel, the outdoor media business, the word “fat,” because it’s a broad concept with a number of meanings and implications. may have.

While some businesses – such as PwC (partial) and Deloitte (more fully) – will offer employee flexibility, others, most notably investment bank Goldman Sachs, called for a return to the office full-time.

But the refusal of management by the diktat could be one of the reasons for the “Big Resignation”. Blogger Ed Zitron recently wrote, “Bosses and managers want employees back because the ‘office culture’ has encouraged management as a form of supervision.”

While the consultants at McKinsey may not have gone that far, some agree that change is near. Bill Scheninger, senior partner at McKinsey, commented in a podcast: “I think the dynamic here is amazing, in that employers are being forced to take into account what employees just went through. “Now is the time for a bit of ‘let’s pause and start over on how we’re going to re-engage the workforce.’ ”

In another article, the company stated, “If leaders don’t accept the fact that they don’t know the shape of their future, combine work, their talent will continue to walk out the door. ” McKinsey’s recommended alternative? “They can seize this unique opportunity to change and work with their employees. . . to discover a new and better way to work. ”

Happy to improve performance

The language of well-being was familiar before Covid hit. But the global health emergency has given new impetus to the health and safety of workers.

At Rolls-Royce, the British engineering group, the link between health, efficiency and productivity is well understood. “Health is a very important part of our manufacturing system,” said David Roomes, chief medical officer of the company. Pandemic planning had been underway for two decades, and Rolls-Royce had only closed its factories for a week at the start of the crisis. “Since then, we haven’t lost a single day of production to Covid,” he added.

Roomes noted that there is much to learn from the crisis. “This is an inflection point in the way businesses work with their employees,” he said. “This creates opportunities around interaction and improves an individual’s overall well-being.”

But this isn’t about a return to nepotism or a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach. Roomes says that benefits “fit into the context of people’s needs and circumstances,” adding that the company is focused on “local priorities” and has a benefits committee at each site. location.

“We’ll take care of you” attitude can create dependence, says Roomes. “I think it’s much better to care about your workforce than to care about your workforce.” For this to work, you need managers with “high EQ” [emotional intelligence]”, he added.

Speed ​​up learning

Management writer CK Prahalad once said that, as well as continuing to follow the learning curve, companies need to grow along the curve that doesn’t scale, letting go of practices and assumptions that stand in the way of success. The best companies have learned a lot but also dropped a lot – and quickly – as a result of this crisis.

When Darcy Willson-Rymer took over as chief executive of Card Factory, the greeting card business, in March this year, their UK stores were locked down with Christmas displays. display. In the spring, employees returned from the factory floor and rearranged the furniture and restocked the entire business in two weeks. “The store team is brilliant,” says Willson-Rymer.

But Card Factory faced serious logistical challenges. Willson-Rymer notes: “We had the Shipfinder app on our mobile phones to track the ships. “We have to be extremely agile. You don’t know when the train will arrive. And when they do land, you need the trucks. . . You don’t know what will happen when. We had to reconfigure when we ship and how we ship to 1,000 stores.

“The most important thing we’ve done is empowering teams to make real-time decisions, so if they need to change the way they look in the store because one product hasn’t arrived yet, another product hasn’t. need to bring to the board of directors. ”

Podcast Working It

An illustration of our Working It image, a collage of two workers standing on a laptop with the words Working it posted on the front

Whether you’re the boss, deputy or on the rise, we’re shaking up the way the world works. This is a podcast about doing things differently.

Join host Isabel Berwick Every Wednesday for expert analysis and watercooler talk about the trends ahead in the workplace, the big ideas that shape work today – and the old habits we need to leave behind.

Develop your own to fill employee gaps

Lack of labor exposed recruiters. Businesses are being reminded that it is better to develop your own loyal workforce than to hire a new one. As Ben Jackson, an American HR consultant, told The Atlantic: “HR teams are operating in an environment where hiring takes longer and at the same time worries about who might leave. next company”.

But Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci, the founders of BioNTech, the biotech company that developed the first Covid vaccine with Pfizer, tell a very different story of their success.

Sahin told me recently, “We had the honor of starting out as leaders with a small group of scientists, with no other colleagues, and then we hired fellows and his first doctoral technician. “As a scientist, the first thing you do is educate and teach your students. So we started really with the thought that we not only have colleagues who are helping us, but we have to educate and educate them.

“And when we founded the company, many of our team members joined. . . That means the company DNA, the company culture, is our DNA in our academic career. . . With this style, you attract the right people. ”

The world is grateful for BioNTech’s talent management approach.

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