Navigating to a new normal

Navigating to a new normal

young man looking up at a waterfall in darkness

How can organisations prepare to make the transition to the ‘new normal’ way of working that is taking shape? Chris Burton of DesigneD4Success outlines three key strengths organisations will need.

The coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally changed organisational working practices, and while crisis management, government support and high levels of commitment from people at every level has secured short term survival, this is unsustainable in the longer term.

Many organisations have now reached a period of temporary stability, utilising new technology and remote working. But they will soon need to adapt again to a ‘new normal’, which may be very different from traditional ways of working. While some people will inevitably find this transition difficult, it also presents an opportunity for organisations to benefit from new learning and new ways of working.

Navigating safely to the new normal will require organisational strength across three interdependent domains.

diagram of navigating to a new normal

Leader as navigator

The new normal is not a destination, but a state of constant flux where clarity of purpose, courage, adaptability and emotional connection become critical for effective leadership. This is a defining moment for all leaders who must become navigators to guide people through the uncharted territory ahead. They will need to learn new skills and re-think what it means to lead in order to remain successful.

Psychological and emotional positivity

The unprecedented levels of change, uncertainty, personal risk and social isolation associated with the crisis will undoubtedly have impacted people psychologically and emotionally. While some people may recover quickly, others will experience more severe symptoms which could compromise physical and mental well-being in the longer term.

Organisations will need to provide people with time, space and support to reconcile their individual and collective experiences, understand how the world has changed, reconnect with others, and redefine their own goals and ambitions.

Organisational agility

At the beginning of 2020, most competent organisations had a clear sense of direction; they knew where they were headed and had a strategy for getting there. Most of that planning, including forecasts, metrics, predictions and historic results, is now redundant. For the foreseeable future, organisational agility will underpin success.

Organisations themselves aren’t agile, so agility must come from within, in the form of navigational leadership supported by teams with high levels of accountability, collaborative behaviours and common purpose. Collective intelligence, high levels of trust and distributed authority will enable fast decision making; systems and processes must provide responsiveness and flexibility.

Building strength across these three interdependent domains will present challenges that few organisations have experienced in the past. Leaders at all levels should be asking what they can do now to prepare themselves, their teams and their organisation for whatever the future might hold.

Read Chris Burton’s complete article

Chris Burton is Managing Director and Principal Consultant at DesigneD4Success

Photo: Joe Yates/Unsplash