A 10-step plan: managing the new world of work post-lockdown
Welcome to the new ‘normal’.
As we explored in our previous blog, COVID-19 is dramatically changing the way we work.
Lockdown restrictions are beginning to lift, but for many, remote working is now the new normal. Employers also face many new challenges, including managing remote recruitment and staff productivity.
It’s an extraordinary time for all of us, but there are measures you can take to ensure that your employees – both present and future – feel valued and get the support they need to adjust to change and stay motivated.
In this blog, we’ll explore 10 steps you should take to manage a changing workplace with empathy and patience – while ensuring operational efficiency and effectiveness.
10 steps to manage change
1. Give people time to adjust
Everybody responds to change differently, and some people will need more time than others to settle into a new routine or way of working. Change doesn’t happen overnight, and your people will need time to accept the circumstances before they can change their behaviour.
Start talking about any changes as early as possible and ensure a progressive roll-out that gives people time to adjust.
Accurately define what the change is and be succinct in communicating your vision for improvement. It’s also helpful to understand how your employees respond to different working paces, and which individuals are likely to need more time to adjust to change.
Analysing behaviour through simple people assessments will help here. For example, by running a behavioural assessment with your workforce, such as the Personal Profile Analysis (PPA), you will very quickly be able to identify those with ‘Steadiness’ in their profile. “S” profiles like to work at a regular pace and will require a clear roadmap to help them navigate future change so it’s good to know who these people are in your organisation so you can support them accordingly.
2. Overcome resistance to change
Resistance to change is common, especially if there’s a lack of understanding of the change, or people feel it impacts their ability to do their best work. To help people overcome resistance to change, the entire workforce must feel empowered and involved in the change – and see the results of their efforts.
Regular pulse checks, staff surveys, workshops, and nominating trusted change champions to drive specific aspects of change, can help encourage a more positive, united culture.
It’s also crucial you don’t treat your people as a single, homogenous group. Every perspective is different, and the same piece of information given to two people can produce two completely different reactions.
3. Understand individual behaviours
In times of disruption, employee conflict is more likely to occur – especially when people are facing increased pressure both in and outside of the workplace.
The best way to quell conflict is to proactively observe negative changes in behaviour and address it as early as possible, before it has a chance to fester and spread.
A behavioural profiling assessment is also an ideal way to evaluate your team’s different communication styles so you can better mediate conflict and pre-empt which employees will struggle most when facing change.
4. Treat remote working as an illusion
While some employees thrive when working alone, others are likely to feel isolated and detached, leading to poor morale. That’s why it’s best in this situation to manage your remote workers as if they were right in front of you.
Be sure to provide regular opportunities for people to communicate openly. And even if it’s a just a friendly catch-up or a casual video meeting with the team each afternoon – these moments can go a long way to help people stay engaged and connected.
In our new Managing Remote Workers report, you’ll find plenty of helpful management tips for better understanding your team’s individual needs, and how to make remote working more personal.
5. Manage motivation
It’s only natural that motivation levels may fall during this time, but by continuing to manage employee progression in an empathetic and responsible way, you can help people stay focused on their professional growth.
By assessing your employees, you can identify those who are naturally self-motivated and how likely they are to struggle when facing adversity. You can also identify how flexible and willing your people are to adapt to new working conditions. And by assessing your employees' personality, you will be able to establish how individuals will react emotionally to stress, external events and pressures. Those with high ‘adjustment’ scores in our personality assessment, the High Potential Trait Indicator (HPTI) will experience calmness under pressure whilst those with lower adjustment will experience more stress and worry.
6. Foster engagement
It’s critical to manage, articulate, and present change in a way that’s universally understood. If everyone knows what’s happening and why, they’ll be more receptive to any changes you make, and better prepared to make personal adjustments.
Recognising people’s differences is important, too. For example, you may want to use the DISC model of human behaviour to identify your employees’ preferred management style, and then adapt how you act to engage more effectively with each individual.
An emotional intelligence assessment can also help you identify how people are likely to react in your new working environment. By combining this assessment (TEIQue) with the behavioural assessment (PPA), you can get a full picture of your team’s behaviours, strengths, and limitations – and how to foster engagement.
7. Create a team charter for success
Your team may be full of highly skilled individuals, but without trust or an understanding of each other’s strengths, limitations, and motivators, success isn’t guaranteed.
By creating a team charter, you can identify the common challenges which prevent your team from performing to the best of their abilities, as well as set them up for success by:
- Helping individuals understand overall team goals
- Establishing a clear identity for the role they play
- Holding people accountable for achieving their goals
There’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach to a team charter, so we recommend building on an established framework and tweaking it to suit the nature, behaviour and personalities of your team members.
8. Plan and create short-term wins
In times of great disruption and change, individuals with high levels of emotional resilience are likely to cope well with minimal assistance. However, those with low levels are likely to become disengaged, overwhelmed, and frustrated.
We recommend setting individuals with low emotional resilience a series of short-term goals with achievable deadlines, while offering patient, one-to-one support. This will help build their confidence and help them settle into a new way of working.
Watch our webinar, Emotional Resilience: How to manage your teams through a crisis, for more information about combating low emotional resilience and driving engagement through team building activities.
9. Formalise distanced recruitment
It’s understandable to be apprehensive about remote recruitment. But with face-to-face opportunities severely limited, establishing a fast, formalised remote recruitment process that your team understands is the best way to ensure continued growth.
Deviating from normal recruitment practices can be very risky, but by implementing psychometric assessments – including behaviour, aptitude and personality – you can ensure your new hires are good hires, and can be on boarded quickly and easily.
10. Provide flexibility
It’s a tough time for everyone, and with remote working an everyday reality, people’s work-life balance can become incredibly uneven. In fact, due to social distancing measures introduced in response to the COVID-19 crisis, 49.2% of adult employees now work from home in the UK.
Respect that not everyone will be able to adhere to traditional office hours during this time, and that many may not have a comparable working environment to that available at your usual workplace.
Return and rebuild for a new normal
Contact us for more information about using out personality (HPTI), behaviour (PPA), emotional intelligence (TEIQue) and aptitude (GIA) assessments to help you prepare for your return and rebuild your workforce for the extraordinary times ahead.