As the first faint signs of an end to COVID appear on the horizon—rising vaccination levels, businesses opening their doors, schools returning to in-person learning—it’s tempting for managers to dream again of a return to normal.
According to growth and performance leader Eyal Gutentag, there’s just one problem: “normal” isn’t going to happen anytime soon.
With a long history of developing highly successful management teams for industry-leading companies like the NFL, Eyal has experienced all kinds of management challenges over the past few decades. He knows “normal” inside and out, but he cautions: “Forget the idea that, once COVID ends, you can return to business as usual. If COVID taught us anything, it taught us that we need a new normal going forward.”
This new business normal, he tells his managers, will involve more than just another run-of-the-mill type of employee training, updated internal policies or untapped revenue streams. It will begin with one very simple, driving force: attitude.
“Sadly, most managers will do nothing more than apply traditional post-crisis strategies that their peers at other companies typically apply,” says Eyal. “They’ll focus on recovering lost revenues, rebuilding their operational structure, rethinking the organization chart, and possibly accelerating time and labor saving digital solutions. Sure, you can do that. Mediocre companies certainly will. But I have another suggestion: Let’s also change our approach to how we deal with people.”
His first post-COVID step involves recognizing the powerful human side of the pandemic. People have died in the hundreds of thousands and many employees are running scared. Eyal advises managers that this is a time for compassion, especially when dealing with employees who are apprehensive about returning to on-site positions.
“I’m telling my managers to go out of their way to make personal contact with as many of their employees as they can,” he says. “Determine their frame of mind. What are their fears? Do they have a preference for working remotely or on site? Are they available either way?”
In other words, adopt an attitude of compassionate understanding. Seek out feedback and act swiftly and accordingly when change is in order. Recognize that the success of your company depends upon your core values, but especially upon your attitude.
This is not the time for ultimatums. You can be more effective by offering attractive incentives that make returning to onsite work a no-brainer. What kind of incentives? Eyal suggests looking at things like extra snacks in the break room, occasional free lunches, more flexible schedules, childcare and more. Find out what gets people excited again, and give them what works whenever you can, especially in times like these.
“And speaking of core values,” Eyal continues, ”this is the perfect occasion to revisit them. Reaffirm those values with your employees. Get their feedback. Discuss why those values set you apart from the competition. That alone can help alleviate their fears, increase loyalty, and improve the effectiveness of your operations post-COVID.”
But that’s just the first step. Next is taking action. You may decide to accelerate change. You may want to crank up investment in technology in order to reduce costs. Or you may look into new revenue streams.
“Whatever you do,” Eyal Gutentag concluded, “make sure your management decisions, actions and strategies remain true to those core values you’ve worked so hard to articulate. When they do, getting employee buy-in is easy and nothing can stop you.
“Not even another COVID.”
Jesslyn Tan has graduated from London School of Arts with a degree in photography and when she returned to America, found herself unemployed for the longest time. Not letting the rejections get to her, she focused on branding himself as an individual, and after slowly building her portfolio and networking, she was able to start his career as a freelancer, work at his own schedule, and also pursue traveling, his other passion. She loves taking portraits of people and exploring the local cuisines of the places he visits.