The main issue now is unpredictability. Our go-to solutions might not work, and ‘normal’ actions can have unexpected consequences. Problems that were complicated are now complex – they are unpredictable and unprecedented.. What this means is that planning ahead and asking experts won’t always work. Being ‘complexity conscious’ is key, and you need to adapt your approach to be more flexible.
Create a trust-based environment
Make sure that employees feel comfortable. You need to understand the employee experience. What challenges are they currently facing? How is the pandemic affecting them? How can you as a leader help to put them at ease? Working from home is different for everyone, which means everyone has a different problem. Maybe someone lives in a noisy neighbourhood, or has slow wifi. Think about the difference between complicated and complex problems – regulations won’t help with the latter.
You can do surveys to understand better, but it is important that you talk to each employee personally. Once you know what is wrong, you can fix it. Our suggestion is to have an open video call policy – let them know that you are always there for them. Work together to find solutions. It is your job now to make the employee journey as smooth as possible. Your bonds with your employees are more important now than hierarchy.
Encourage different opinions
Your team needs diversity – different points of view. Not having this can create a room of ‘yes men’ and make you blind to possible mistakes. With complex problems, avoiding mistakes is even more important. Your company is likely experiencing instability, and one big error can overturn the whole boat. During a crisis the rules have to be changed or forgotten – this will make it harder to correct mistakes once you have made them.
Leaders also need to give employees space to think for themselves. You can’t put pressure on them, as this might make them try to agree with you. Trust them to come up with solutions, and don’t micromanage. Let them experience their own employee journey when it comes to problem-solving. If you direct them too much, you risk missing out on their original ideas. Trust me, you’ll need those original ideas when it comes to reacting to upsets in the business world.
Decentralise the organisation
Make sure that everyone is close to the action. An overly-structured organisation will not let employees tackle the problem face-to-face. If someone can talk directly with a consumer, they can solve problems faster. As a Leader, your job is to make this easier. The key to this is trust. Remember that you hired them for a reason – the company spends resources on them so that they can get the work done. Let employees work when and where they want – as long as they get the job done. Employees should also be able to talk to customers to solve problems themselves. This will save them the time of waiting for a superior to fix the problem – and it will get them thinking on their feet.
Make communication easier
Finally, Leaders need to improve communication across the company, so you can gain this flexibility. Only then can you survive the obstacle course of unpredictability. You can do this by finding software that lets everyone in the company communicate with anyone. Publishing Interactive found that Microsoft Teams worked well.
What Leaders need now is to be flexible. For your organisation to survive you need your team to be prepared and work together. With a safe and diverse environment, plus a relaxed structure and effective communication, you as a Leader can prepare your team to survive the uncertain future.