3 necessary changes of attitude to deal with the crisis

COVID-19 has had a strong impact on organizations. The employee experience has made a 180-degree turn, with employees having to deal with new remote work practices, job uncertainty, and personal emotions. If we don’t want the change to smash us, we need to act now. Below, three changes of attitude I propose to face the crisis.

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The experience before the crisis

Identifying the client’s emotions in the journey towards our product or service is today a basic practice of customer service. Understanding what the customer experiences in all the interactions and potential interactions with our organization can help us improve and monitor results in real-time.

Something similar happens with the employee’s experience. People go through satisfactions, disappointments, and emotions while fulfilling their responsibilities. Organizations that have been able to identify those emotions and act accordingly have seen results in terms of motivation, climate, efficiency, and commitment to change.

The situation we are in forces us, above all, to think about the employees, who are not only the most affected by what is happening but also our main resource if we want to turn this crisis into an opportunity. Three changes in our mindset can help manage the crisis.

1. As customers, understand the employee

When in the role of customers, we need to be understanding and supportive of the employees. When a client complains about a dog bark in the back of a phone call, he/she overlooks the fact that the person who is helping him/her out is doing it from home, with children playing around or demanding attention, and in a totally inappropriate environment. And this is not by choice. He/she should even be thanked for staying focused after all.

What can we do as clients?

  • Be flexible: We need to understand that the processes are rapidly changing and that we cannot expect exactly the same service as we had before. Ask with empathy, listen and propose alternatives.
  • Empathize: Do not complain if the employee does not have the tools at hand, there is communication interference or simply he/she does not know how to solve a situation that is new. Good manners and communication efforts make all the difference.
  • Negotiate solutions: In this context, we need to understand that perhaps the answer we expect is not possible and try to find together the best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA).

2. As leaders, keep our collaborators close

In our leadership role, we should be the first to learn how to really telecommute. ´Telecommuting´ meaning a person doing his task in a different environment. In the same way that in the natural workplace a leader must make himself visible, this is now more important than ever.

 When remote working, Lean teachings are even more relevant. Some suggestions:

  • Virtually “visit” the Gemba: Learn about the new process first hand, talk to each collaborator about their daily difficulties, considering aspects such as tools, knowledge, physical spaces, family context, and emotions, to understand how you could facilitate their work. Establish regular video calls and define alternative means for daily communication (such as Slack).
  • Monitor: Using digital visual management tools like Trello can help visually monitor process compliance, standardize new processes, and align the team.
  • Establish agile ways of working: Structure tasks in a limited time, with a process that facilitates the exchange of ideas, and flexibility. There are many collaborative work tools that can help (Mural, for instance).

As employees, embrace the change

Finally, as employees, it is vital to understand that every crisis implies an opportunity. How many times have we complained because nothing changes, because things do not advance at the pace we would like them to, or because we do not have enough time?

Now it is time to:

  • move forward with projects that were not progressing,
  • develop new ideas, new products, new services, new processes,
  • review processes and propose improvements,
  • take that course you always wanted to,
  • reflect on the past, think of the current crisis and plan for the future.

We constantly demand the employee to “think about the customer.” Now, we also have to ask the customer and the boss to think about the employee. And the employee to rethink him/her self, and become the protagonist of a change that -although it might be hard to see today- can be positive.

Author: Raúl Molteni

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