Can You Shift Company Culture During COVID-19?

Be Transparent – Part 2 of 2

Peter Drucker

“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence – it is to act with yesterday’s logic.”

In continuing the conversation, here are the remaining four strategies for shifting culture to encourage and support the changes necessary to keep your business in business.

Be transparent and decisive.
With the ongoing uncertainty and continued closures at large, businesses across industries are fighting to survive and leaders have already or are on the verge of having to make very difficult “essential vs. nonessential” people decisions. Naturally, people are unnerved and anxious. Do not allow death by a thousand cuts. The very thing people need in the midst of the unending uncertainty is transparency and decisiveness. Holding off on the inevitable is not kind to people nor smart for the business. If layoffs are required, be courageous, step into the arena, armor off, communicate the best options for the business’s future, and let people know the best way forward for the majority is going to require timely layoffs and furrows for some. When this happens, it will be painful and uncomfortable, so be prepared and deliver your decisions with EMPATHY. That means pause, listen and show support.

Courage is stepping into the arena, not ignoring or avoiding it. Empathy is sharing in what others are experiencing—the good, bad and emotionally jarring. Empathy is an act of courage; it requires us to be vulnerable by connecting, supporting and “figuratively” stepping into what others are experiencing. Yes…especially the bad and emotionally jarring without trying to FIX them.

Track progress, measure results and hold people accountable.
The cliché is true: You get what you measure. It doesn’t take people long to figure out that management measures what they value. Holding people accountable requires setting clear and transparent expectations and goals and regularly measuring progress—not annually, but weekly. In virtual environments, weekly updates are essential. If you don’t go to the trouble to measure results, you won’t get the results you want. Tracking progress enables you to know where challenges lie so you can address them quickly and efficiently.

Remove obstacles and bureaucratic practices.
You’ll gain respect and credibility by removing obstacles and breaking the chains of bureaucracy. The ongoing blend of work and home over the last few months for countless people has heightened our focus on efficiency. More so than ever, people are navigating new rules and procedures for safety and prevention. And as the uncertainty continues, we’re also expected to be adaptive, relevant and operationally flexible. As working virtually continues, less corporate bureaucracy allows people to show initiative and be more creative. During weekly performance and progress updates, it’s also essential to include conversations about obstacles that may inhibit progress. Dare to ask, “What are the obstacles that are getting in your way?”

Celebrate tangible results quickly through small wins.
Tangible pay-offs fuel the fires of motivation. Creative forums for people to share lessons learned amid uncertainty will accelerate engagement and inspire greater levels of creativity. Share best practices for getting shit done, having fun, pivoting in the crisis. The key here is to invite people to share all wins and even the failures and lessons learned. Wins build team chemistry, lessons learned build team resilience and collective yet virtual high fives inspire ongoing commitment.

What can you do?

  • Be courageous, be transparent and act with empathy and decisiveness.
  • Ask people what is inhibiting their ability to innovate and streamline.
  • Create consistent opportunities to share best practices.