We know we need to change but do we want to?

We know we need to change but do we want to?

We are now facing a few more weeks with tighter social restrictions; a somewhat inevitable consequence of rising infections and, more worryingly, rising hospital admissions. This will be our ‘next normal’ for a while and individuals’ responses to it are varied – from acceptance & compliance to disbelief & resistance. This ‘next normal’ was preceded by sudden (and perhaps shocking) new ways of working as we entered lockdown, and will be superseded by a series of ‘next normals’ as we move through the months and years ahead. We are in an intense period of ongoing change in how we live and work, and people will understandably be getting weary.

We have been talking for some time with businesses and public service organisations about what the ‘next normal’ means for them and how they are changing. You can read more here - Next Normal. Our message is definitely ‘stop thinking about your next normal and start delivering it’ but we recognise that businesses and organisations will need to set their own pace and approach.

So what can we do to support our teams as we drive forward the service and technology changes we need to survive and thrive? A few simple actions:

  • Prioritise and take small steps at a time – we strongly believe in delivering small increments of change that, when aggregated, make a big impact. A ‘big bang’ approach to change is even more likely to have a negative effect at the moment as some team members are fatigued, worried and emotionally drained. We must still effect change but need to determine the right pace and approach.
  • Communicate – regularly and authentically. You can’t do too much at the moment. Regardless of your political persuasion, most of us would agree that the communication from (and visibility of) the First Minister and her team during the pandemic is to be commended. The same is true in organisational life. Hunkering down is not the answer when people need to hear from, see and engage with their leadership teams.
  • Recognise, validate and nurture the deep capabilities within team members. You may not have the exact skills you need to transition to your ‘next normal’ but you will have team members who are willing to adapt and learn new ways of working. Remember - we are all T-shaped - the vertical bar representing the depth of related skills and expertise in a single field and the horizontal bar our ability to collaborate across disciplines with experts in other areas and to apply knowledge in areas of expertise other than our own. Personal adaptation is possible and doesn’t have to be as controversial as the recent advert about a ballet dancer becoming a cyber expert – Arts controversy
  • Support team members to stretch themselves by getting creative, collaborating with them and building buy-in. Push your teams – in a supportive way – to be the best they can be. Research has shown that if you create a place of “psychological safety,” performance will be good. So, what are you doing to create teams that can ask questions, admit to not knowing something, and float ideas? We need to encourage this in order to secure buy-in to helping our organisations succeed in our ‘next normal’.

Please feel free to share your ideas and insights in the comments – the more we help each other, the better.

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