Organizational Development in Pandemic

The pandemic has brought about radical changes in not just the way of life but also in the way organizations approach work. Now is the time for the OD guys to shine. The years of stagnancy, the change initiatives frozen in time, the dynamic transformation visualized, discussed but never implemented have all been jolted to life by the pandemic.

A time for crisis is also the time for opportunities and organizational development experts can put on their cape and work magic in making working condition better and an impossible life a little bearable under such extraordinary circumstances.

It is time for the leaders to take risks and drive initiatives. Business decisions stuck in red tapes, bureaucracy and procrastinations have been propelled into action thus empowering to leaders to make quick decisions, take unique actions and build up people around them in the process.

The pandemic has shown that valuing people over profit is the way to go forward, business leaders have resorted to innovative distribution of resources in order to retain the workforce and create an environment of trust and compassion. With little scope for inertia, interesting things are shaping up and changes are embraced with less resistance and more enthusiasm.

The post pandemic world will be inclusive, flexible and innovative. What would it mean for the organizational development initiatives?

  1. Redefining Purpose: Several organizations have been thrown into sudden storm brought about by the pandemic.

    Many stared at existential crisis and several others were forced to ponder over existential questions. Reevaluating Purpose, “the who we are” and “what we want to do” of the business will be the key to define and navigate the way forward.

    For leaders this also means looking beyond the present chaos and commotion, prioritizing long term goals over short term gains. A wrong shift can change the course of the business and it needs to be clear whether it is a desired, calculated and beneficial shift. Motherhood statements apart, what will be the defining aspect is the implementation of those defined purposes.

  2. Culture and Value: Now is the time to rebuild the culture and redefine the values within the organization. Needless to say, a tailor-made core culture will have to be arrived at keeping in mind the redefined organizational purposes and goals.

    The organizations and leaders will have to consciously and intuitively arrive at values they want to be identified and associated with. In times of crisis this is what differentiates organizations and also determines whether they fall apart or gear forward. A large part of how changes can be implemented is impacted by the culture and values of the organization.

  3. Supporting and Challenging the Leaders: As pointed above change is going to be the key to survival and for that it is imperative that the leaders and managers are empowered to make small or big changes in response to the situation. This could be the time to foster ownership of work and create a culture of taking initiatives and creating opportunities to contribute effectively towards personal development and team goals as well.

    It is also important to point out that sometimes leaders will be taking decisions with limited or only real time information and while this may lead to errors of judgment at times but will also form the path towards disruptive innovation and change.

  4. Organizational Structures: The pandemic has also posed serious questions on the relevance of strict hierarchies and dotted lines of formal reporting. Basically, the Boss structure needs to be reexamined. A lot of valuable decision making is delayed, and wonderful initiatives have suffered in the past lost in the labyrinths of organizational chart.

    The agility and quick response to situations needed in the present circumstances requires a flatter, autonomous and fluid organizational structure.

    During the early days of the pandemic organizations were forced to come up with rapid response teams, nerve centers and other task specific groups involving members from different verticals thus ensuring quick responses with detailed and honest communication regarding big decisions. The key would be to find a way to keep this going once the crisis is over.

  5. Talent: The pandemic has taken away millions of jobs worldwide. The first resource to be disposed of or evaluated as redundant was human capital. But any organization which has a vision for future would know that it is only people who can rebuild organization and that vision.

    The remote working option has opened a global pool of talent which could not have been accessed before. It also is a good time to reevaluate, redefine roles and reskill employees to meet changing objectives especially those who are in the customer facing roles.

    Creating meaningful people transactions based on trust and compassion will ensure sustainability and progress. Leaders as role models, influencing and motivating employees through positive communication can help mitigate the psychological toll the pandemic has been taking on the employees.

In addition to the above aspects, a conscious effort to create an ecosystem mindset will be crucial. Any organization is a complex series of network with various external and internal stakeholders. The organizations doing exceptionally well during the pandemic have taken the transactions with each of them a step beyond, creating opportunities and values together.

Most strategic associations proved to be elusive when the organizations needed them the most however, employees, customers and most vendors stuck together and survived together. It’s a valuable lesson for the organizations and reinforces again the learning of valuing people over profit.

Embracing technology and evaluating solutions from several vantage points while not getting overwhelmed with data is another aspect to be considered while charting the future course. Finally learning, unlearning and relearning while adapting to changes with flexibility and swiftness would be the challenges and opportunities for the organizational development initiatives within the organization.

The post pandemic world shall belong to the organizations committed towards building people and creating lasting values in their transactions.

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