As the workforce finds its way and adapts to the many challenges and changes brought on by 2020, we asked the following question to members of the Crisis Ready Institute’s Global Advisory Council, which is comprised of an experienced and diverse range of Crisis Ready leaders.
Is It More Complicated To Be Crisis Ready While Your Teams Work From Home?
This is the second part of this series. The first part consisted of Aaron Marks’s response, which can be found here.
In this second part, we explore the responses provided by two more leading Crisis Ready professionals: Erick Anez, Global Head of Business Resilience at Finastra, and Chris Hsiung, Deputy Chief of Police for Mountain View Police Department in California.
Erick Anez responds:
The current virtual environment in which we operate has created some additional challenges when it comes to evolving our organization’s culture towards a Crisis Ready state. A huge part of this challenge is that we are not simply “operating remotely”, but rather we are “at home and trying to work”.
Given that context drives behavior, this a key component to leadership’s mindset while trying to effectively implement a Crisis Ready Culture. Organizations as a whole must communicate effectively and authentically to ensure their message is not tone deaf—and it can be far too easy to become tone deaf in today’s environment. The key to success is understanding the current landscape both inside and outside of the office and not overlooking challenges that members of the organization are experiencing when creating new activities or initiatives.
For example, think of the additional changes that parents of young kids are experiencing as they navigate virtual classes, while also working from home. More than likely, that All Day Virtual Retreat that your team is planning is not the best idea.
Likewise, newly on-boarded employees need additional attention as we’re now forced to convey culture through a webcam. Take extra care of your new members, establish daily, weekly and monthly touch points with a purpose. Having a written 30-, 60- and 90-day plan with expectations, milestones, and key team members that the new team members should become acquainted with has proven to be helpful. Keep in mind that culture is like a very complex recipe, each new ingredient will impact the outcome, either positively or negatively.
Communication is the key to building and strengthening relationships. In our current state of affairs, letting our mess be our message may just be the key to establishing new and strengthening current human connections within and outside of our organizations, which is on of the key pillars to a Crisis Ready environment. Be genuine, transparent and consistent with when and how you communicate with your teams. Remember, when organizations experience challenges, workers are not the problem to be solved, but rather skilled problem solvers that can share with you ideas on how to improve the ways in which we work. It is up to us, as leaders, to be visible and create an environment where curiosity and ingenuity is encouraged.
Chris Hsiung responds:
From an organizational perspective I would say, “it depends.”
Working from home has been about adaptability, grit, and resilience. IF these qualities were embedded in an organization’s leadership values, the staff and personnel would be better suited to make the transition to crisis readiness from home.
Leaders and the values they model are the key factor here. In crisis, people look to their leaders for guidance, direction, and assurance. Less talked about are the subtle qualities like body language, voice inflection, and non-verbal cues which are just as important and arguably provide that extra bit of inspiration and motivation.
So, going back to the original question, getting guidance, direction, and assurance is easily done via email or video conferencing but picking up on the subtle, but important, cues is much more difficult in the age of working from home.
Key takeaways from the experts
- Becoming Crisis Ready in this new and evolving normal presents increased challenges.
- The risks and crises we knew in 2019 are different from the ones we need to know and be prepared for in 2020 and beyond.
- It will be more challenging—though nowhere near impossible—for the organizations that were not crisis ready prior to 2020 to embed a Crisis Ready Culture in this new and evolving normal.
- In observation, too many professionals and organizations are currently focused on the here and now, no longer watching the horizon to see what is going to happen next, creating needless and preventable vulnerabilities and exposures.
- Pay close attention, be conscious and purposeful in the ways in which you lead your teams. It has become increasingly easy to be seen as tone deaf in this environment and everything you say and do impacts your culture, either positively or negatively.
- New and elevated skillsets are required for today’s effective crisis readiness and resilience.
- Leadership has a huge responsibility in, and is accountable for, an organization’s crisis readiness and empowering the right mindset and actions forward.
The good news
Crisis readiness is cultural and, as such, is a learnable and transferrable skill and capacity. It takes the right mindset, leadership, and commitment, and it leads to strategic advantages that give you, your team and your organization a strong competitive edge as we move forward beyond the challenges of 2020.
The new ways of the world, like them or not, are here to stay and present both increased risk and opportunity. Risk that is within your power to mitigate and be ready for, transforming it into its own set of opportunities; and opportunity that is within your power to leverage and maximize upon, with the right strategic focus.
So, the new question becomes:
How much of a strategic advantage do you want to attain as we navigate forward?
If this resonates with you and you’d like to learn more, we have answers that we’d love to share with you. Discovering them is as simple as reaching out.