Covid-19 has thrown into sharp relief the need for leaders and employees to be able to pivot in a crisis.
Since the pandemic’s potential economic impact became more apparent earlier this year, experts who for years had been urging reluctant businesses to adapt to the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world, have been vindicated.
Indeed, now is the time to bring to the fore the qualities needed to navigate this world.
In our conversations with HR leaders, we have found that most are increasingly looking for candidates who have shown themselves to be flexible and agile in a crisis.
While you are encouraged to plan in advance for dire economic times, your plan should be predicated on, paradoxically, planning to change your plans.
The questions we think you need to be asking include but are not limited to: Do you have people with the requisite qualities to help you manage a crisis? Are you prepared to make decisions quickly? Are you prepared to be assertive?
But how can you encourage your team to be aligned and be able to deal with constant change in an uncertain climate?
You should do this before a crisis even occurs.
In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Nadya Zhexembayeva, the Chief Reinvention Officer of WE EXIST Reinvention Agency, a U.S.-based boutique consultancy firm, notes that “resistance to change has long been cited as one of the key reasons why companies fail to adapt on time” citing research that shows only between 11 per cent and 19 per cent of employees are ready to take risks needed to reinvent, “especially when the need for change is not immediately apparent.”
To counter this problem, she suggests a “Kill Our Company” exercise.
This entails bringing employees together, dividing them into groups, and asking them to “brainstorm the most effective and efficient ways to kill the very company they are assembled by.”
“At the end of a typical “Kill Our Company” day, the range of diverse ideas of how to kill (and save) the company is matched only by people’s willingness to change in order to avoid the unfortunate fate,” she says.
Employees’ willingness to change has to be augmented by leaders’ willingness to invest in employees to future-proof them and the organisation. Now is the time to invest in their training and development.
Leaders need to have a talent conversation with each employee, asking them what skills they feel will be needed for them to be able to thrive in a VUCA world. Discuss what will help them weather this and future crises with you.
As recruiters, we feel employees should see this as an opportunity to ensure career longevity. After all, the skills and traits that you develop will be yours to take with you to any organisation you might work for in the future.
If nothing else, Covid-19 has shown us the importance of this.