A new world of business, a new agenda

The first moment we heard the name Covid-19 or Coronavirus, the first time we looked at the news and started to see the gravity of it, the first case appearing in our hometowns, the moment we started getting scared… The increase of preventive measures, the consideration and start of precautions on a national-scale… All of this happened in a matter of a few months. We did not have any previous similar experience, and therefore no preparation to brace against it. Fortunately we were stricken at a time when technology has fundamentally changed our understanding of the word “communication”, and we managed social distancing without severing our contact with one another.

In this brief period of time, organizations too have had to reassess their methods of leadership. Things that appeared to function well until then in the past few weeks had to be completely remodeled. It became crystal clear that it is not so easy to keep employees far away yet connected and engaged. Hence here as the Engage&Grow team, we are in constant communication, both with our clients and with businesses and executives that aren’t in our clientele. For every executive looking for a roadmap, our coaches across the globe are hosting webinars free-of-charge, sharing their knowledge and advice.

Executive teams will be coming out of this process with more productive business results as they improve their mindfulness and discover the right methods for their team.

Leadership and HR at times of crisis

Last week, I participated in a webinar lead by Global Industry Analyst Josh Bersin. In this heavily populated webinar I had the opportunity to listen to the perspectives of the HR executives of companies such as Novartis, IBM and UnitedHealth. And I realized once more that HR’s agenda has completely transformed. While the first thing on the list had been talent management until a few weeks ago, now all of them are completely locked in on how the employees will be adapting to this new period and staying mentally healthy and sound.

Focusing on the family beyond the singular employee

HR executives believe that of course, working remotely is an option to break the chain of the virus, but it is their perspective that people constantly staying home against their will in itself has various consequences. First on this list is the psychological consequences that come with breaking habits and having to deal with the weight and chores that surface from staying home. We aren’t aware of it in the midst of the grind, but there are many things included in our daily work routine that fuel us in a certain psychological way. Getting ready every morning, chatting in the company shuttle, the scenes on our way to work, coffee breaks, face-to-face meetings, lunch plans, conversations over finished meals and perhaps even that little beep our card makes when we swipe it. These currently have ceased to exist. While this crisis ensues outside, most of us probably are not thinking of the times at work when we would miss spending time at home…

Human and Obligatory digital transition

Our sudden and forced transition to a digitalized world, the fear of the virus, the uncertainties about the future and the changes in the way we work, considering all that is on our plate right now corporations must adjust their priorities to what is happening around us.
Here are my notes from the webinar, purely from my perspective:

  • Working remotely was part of a vision, and now it is the way of life. The transition being so sudden and rapid can take a traumatic toll on our mental health. Organizations must approach their employee from a much more humane perspective at a time like this. It is not enough to just keep contact with the employee, the family must be brought into the picture as well. Novartis first made their remote training programs available to employees, starting from the basics of Microsoft, then moving on to time management, and onto mental health topics. The moment the programs were made available to families was when it became much more efficient and helpful.
  • It would be a mistake to think that our daily planners can be the same as our remote-work planners. You must especially empathize with female personnel who have kids and are working from home. Daycares and schools are closed, kids are home and there are responsibilities awaiting attention. The same thing goes for fathers alone with their kids but at this point we all know that the weight on the female is heavier (on a global average). Instead of keeping people in front of their screens for hours by piling online meetings for the day, you — we must find an empathetic, compromising method that works for all.
  • People are away from a business atmosphere. There is great need for efficient leadership. You must add a lot of “compassion” into the mix of this leadership, if it was lacking til now. Because when you say that the priority is the people, a compassionate leadership is essential.
  • You must add “requirements of today’s special conditions” to the list of standardized concepts such as “definitions”, “missions” and “duties of the position”.

We have always defended concepts that until today appeared sophisticated, such as agility, compassion, empathy, understanding, and tolerance. Because where people are, these concepts must also exist. When all of this is over, my conviction is that compassionate companies and leaders will come out of this with the least damage possible.
I wish all of you, all of the world, much healthier, much better days.

Isik Serifsoy

CEO Engage & Grow

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