If we had to quote from examples about change and the VUCA (Volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) world before Covid, the post Covid world is in itself a significant example now. Everything from the way we live, eat, commute to the way businesses function, grow or shut down, is experiencing change.

Warren Buffett says “In a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.” Businesses have adopted this adage very seriously. Look at the massive amount of change that major businesses have been going through. The Idea Vodafone merger in India attracted plenty of sniggers since people have since forgotten what Vodafone started out as. Across the world, major businesses like Uber and AirBnB are facing monumental problems owing to social distancing norms while on-demand businesses like Instacart and Doordash are hiring like crazy.

The global tech giants FAAMG (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Google) oftentimes lead a lot of change in the business world- by disruption, devouring entire competition or cutthroat price wars. How do leaders manage these changes? Do the skills that work for them in normal times (if at all there is such normal), prove useful in times of change? Absolutely not. An agile organization with equally agile management and workforce absorbs a lot of shocks that come with change.

A leader needs to maintain his calm and lead the team through the tough times. Tough yes, because no change comes without its set of challenges. They might be in the form of Merger with or acquisition by a new company , working with completely new management and colleagues, shutdown of branches or retrenchment, changing government norms and laws, change of top leadership, crisis situations like war, pandemics or global recession, financial stress or even complete change in business models due to changing business environment and customer preferences. Whatever the trigger of the change factor, the leader must always maintain his/her composure. Accepting that there is a change which needs to be dealt with is the starting point. It’s actually all about being ousted from one’s comfort zone. Few people like being dislodged like this. But the team looks up to the leader to gain some semblance of things, especially in the initial phase.

Discuss freely with your team about the new normal. There is no point in being too optimist or extremely pessimistic about anything. Businesses have the uncanny habit of turnarounds, most of the times for the good. Showing lofty dreams or giving exaggerated targets can backfire. It would take a long time to get back to normal- if you’d call the past so. Finding a way by taking everyone along is the key. Let your team know that there is a difference between change, growth, development and transition and transformation. All come with their own sets of advantages if you look at them positively. Every stakeholder in a time of change has different sets of apprehensions. The management is concerned about the future of the company, profits and sustainability; the leaders are concerned about driving the team through the change while the employees are most concerned about keeping the job and security in general. Frequent and comprehensive communication goes a long way in calming frayed nerves of the team. Read more.....