Strategy & LeadershipCOVID-19: HR ‘Accelerating through the turn’

COVID-19: HR 'Accelerating through the turn'

How can HR help their organisations to take the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic into the future to ensure high performance in the aftermath? By Jennie Wright Vice President, Global Marketing, Korn Ferry.

Keeping an eye on the future, and your foot on the pedal

There you are, speeding down the racetrack at over 150 miles per hour. You see the corner coming up fast, so you hit the brake and establish your line. You turn hard, then slowly begin to accelerate out of the curve, following a new direction.

Effective leaders are like race-car drivers. They adapt quickly to changing conditions. They’re  energized by challenge and not afraid to take chances. And they can see around corners, outmaneuvering the competition.

Yet the global coronavirus outbreak has knocked even the most successful leaders off course. Its scope and scale are unprecedented. For many leaders, it’s the most challenging crisis they’ve ever had to face.

The pandemic, of course, will end. But the world will look very different, which means workforces, organisations, and leadership will need to be different.

With so much change and uncertainty on the horizon, how do you balance the health of your organisation now, while also preparing to accelerate through the turn?

How organisations can transform to perform

It’s hard to remember the world pre-COVID, and even harder to imagine one post-COVID. The crisis has tested the acumen of leadership and the agility of organisations. They have responded by casting aside bureaucracy and inefficiency, giving rise to positive behaviors that have driven rapid transformational change, becoming more agile, decisive, innovative, collaborative, customer centric and empathetic.

When the crisis ends, leaders will need to be mindful of not letting their organisations fall back into past negative behaviors. The opportunity and challenge for leaders is to lock in these new ways of working so they can accelerate growth. Right now, all leaders should be asking themselves these questions:

  • What positive new behaviors do we want to preserve and how do we align around them?
  • How can we cut costs while preserving what will make us successful in the future?
  • How do we redesign our organisation for these new behaviors?
  • How do we adapt our culture to embed these behaviors into our DNA?

Shaping the future workforce

No organization could have foreseen either the coronavirus or its economic disruptions, leaving leaders unprepared for a barrage of revenue losses, staff cutbacks, and uncertainties. Now, leaders are stepping into a new unknown: trying to figure out how to get their workforces back to normal.

This means determining which employees should come back and under what conditions. It also means establishing a secure, sanitary, and safe environment as a top priority. But there’s a strong  case to use this time to not only bring back the workforce but to transform it.

This type of transformation isn’t easy at any time, and it may not seem like a high priority  now, when survival may be the goal of each day. But forward-thinking organisations will recognize that “business as usual” after the pandemic will not look like it did before. Whether a company succeeds post-COVID will depend greatly on having the right people, with the right skills, aligned to the work that needs to be done. And all of that starts with a clear view of what their most important capabilities should be going forward.

Future-proofing your leaders

Leaders are being tested mentally, emotionally, socially, and physically. It is, in many ways, a leadership assessment on a global scale. Through the trials and challenges, we are gaining unique insight into how leaders respond to a crisis, and how they act in comparison to each other. We are learning more about which key leadership qualities drive transformation in the face of great uncertainty. And with leaders now on a level playing field, we are seeing new stars rise.

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How leaders learn from this pandemic is key to an organization’s ability to accelerate through the turn. We need to look ahead and understand the shifting conditions for individual, team, and organisational success.

After all, even when this crisis ends, the reverberation will be felt for months, if not years. A lot of what is to come remains unknown. This means businesses will have to surround themselves with the leaders and top teams they need to not only survive but also thrive in an uncertain world.

We have compiled a guide to not only help leaders like yourself through today, but to support you in doing the things that will connect your organisation to the future. So that we can all come out stronger on the other side.

Download this guide for further insight on how to:

  • Transform to perform: Keep the best of what you’ve become during the crisis and adapt your organisation to thrive in the new normal.
  • Shape the future workforce: Identify the skills you will need to get people back to work while keeping them engaged, supported and with a vested interest in doing their best.

Future-proof your leaders: Surround yourself with the leaders you need in an uncertain world and build the robust leadership pipeline to not only survive but thrive

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