Companies and also leadership will no longer be as they used to be.
The hits are coming closer. Anyone who until now thought it would not affect me, will see at the very latest when looking at the toilet paper rack, that something is happening. My 4-sheet single-use paper is missing. So now it should be clear to everyone that the team principle does not mean “Great another one does it”, but in the narrower sense of the word a team spirit and standing up for each other, even if I do not know the other person personally. The wave of infection and its effects clearly show the close interdependence in our world. Even if I do not know my neighbour or even find him silly, we are all the same in terms of the virus. At the least when we visit a crowded restaurant or stand in the bus, we get to know each other anyway. At least our bacteria and viruses. That’s why all experts demand a special kind of asceticism. Physical and personal interaction is replaced by digital and internet-related physicality. The mobile phone and laptop will be our new contact. Siri or Alexa the Best Buddies.
THE TREND OF THE LAST YEARS IS INTENSIFIED.
We are increasingly entering the world of emojis and short messages. of video chats and Telcos. The podcasts and mails. What makes the working world flexible and faster helps us now in the crisis. Anyone who has not yet thought about digitalization, technologically modern equipment at the workplace or home office or agile collaboration based on the given situation will now be confronted with exactly these challenges in a crass and brutal way. Or maybe not everyone, because it is too late anyway. The situation also shows that we cannot prepare and adjust to all, but that is exactly what we can prepare for. Planning and years of foresight lose their value as soon as surprises come crashing down on us. The momentum hits. This usually results in panic and violent reactions. Following the rules and planning is no longer possible, but it is still somehow wanted. What I do not know, I cannot carry out. Insecurity and powerlessness are spreading.
THIS ALSO APPLIES TO THE WORLD OF WORK.
Nevertheless, we have to note that many of us react calmly and coolly and interpret the situation correctly. Looking back, there is always a better way. closing borders earlier. Arranging tests more often. Keeping employees at home. But that is the view back of the apparently smarter guys. Sure, even today there are still exceptions. People ignore solidarity, dependencies and connections to others and continue to live as before. It has always worked out well. But here we learn new rules of conduct in an unpleasant way. Solidarity is no longer just a word, but becomes a practised reality. Flexibility and cooperation are no longer buzz words of the new working world, but a nightmare coming true for all bureaucrats, controllers and planners. We recognize the interrelation between shopping on full shelves, price and supply chains. We amuse ourselves with the variety of goods and now recognize that toilet paper and noodles are the real winners. What appeared to be clear until today is lost in the fast paced maelstrom. The new learning curve is to learn from these perspectives and experiences. This applies to each and every one of us, but also to companies and organisations. Leadership is no longer what it used to be.
WITH TREMENDOUS INTENSITY COMPANIES ARE OVERRUN BY REALITY
Many companies struggle with the surprises that wait for you every day. This was already the case before and many could (still) suppress it with mass, budget or ignorance. But now in this crisis and viral phase all dynamic challenges implode in one point like a star that becomes a black hole. With tremendous intensity, trenchant in a moment, companies are overrun by reality. In one fell swoop, companies experience the current challenges in 2020 and beyond in one week. After the surprise is before the surprise. Crash after crash. Customer requirements change hourly. Demand collapses or increases exponentially (see toilet paper). Certainly this is a very special and concentrated situation for all of us, but I hope that the learning effects and conclusions from this will continue into the upswing. Not that we continue to do as we have done so far because we have not understood. After the catastrophic crash, studies have shown that the upswing is just as steep. One assumes a V-shaped economic development. Companies will have to fundamentally reorganize their global supply chains. Dependence on one or a few suppliers is dangerous and companies will once again decentralize their supply chains more.
ATTEMPTS ARE MADE TO MAKE UP FOR MISSED OPPORTUNITIES
At the same time, many companies are trying to make up for the failures of recent years as quickly as possible. Within a few days, remote workstations or video conferencing are set up and the technical infrastructure is created that was previously not even remotely possible. It shows once again that willingness leads to action. But even with that, we can lose focus on security vulnerabilities and data protection in the hectic and panic. This can result in new threats and problems for our company.
MANAGEMENT IS NO LONGER AS IT WAS
But the current situation also affects our hierarchical structure and our understanding of leadership. We see leadership being reshaped. No, leadership needs to be reshaped. The common opinion of a controlling type of leadership is now more difficult or even impossible to achieve. In particular, communication and discussion are being given a new importance. The previously short or destructive conversations with employees are now being replaced by digital, Internet-based communication. What might have taken place accidentally in the corridor in former times must now be proactively initiated and started. Put your hand on the phone and call. Switch on your laptop and start video call. But this form of communication lacks important aspects of a common language, of coming into contact. Gestures, body language, tonality or direct mimic responses are widely lost. Sometimes we even lose them completely when the Internet connection is not as stable as we expected. There are also dead spots. This new kind of leadership needs more honest and serious communication – stronger and more intense than ever before. Communication in times of crisis, but also in times of the new working world, is to be used much more often than less often. Talking to each other is more likely to be doubled than reduced. Clear words and simple sentences are to be preferred over confusing, complex sentences.
DESPITE DISTANCE WE ARE MORE EMPHATIC
This time brings us all to a higher appreciation of the other. We align ourselves with the other and empathetically approach each other. Not because trends and methods dictate this, but because we are now seeing our employees in a different light, new opportunities to get to know each other are opening up, or are being forced to do so. With the video call, for example, managers and colleagues technically gain an insight into the private world of the other person. We open our inner world to the other person in a new way. In our environment we are more accessible and open than any conversation or meeting in the company could have been. In addition to our own private surroundings or our private clothing, we are all aware (or many of us are) that both of us have to adapt to a new situation and starting point. The management has no more control. Employees are no longer called into the boss office and the boss consequently loses his special rank.
Entrust leads to trust leads to successful collaboration.
A new togetherness and getting to know each other makes it possible to strengthen the mutual trust and from this trust we should definitely rescue into the next phase of the working world. People move closer together despite the prescribed distance. Companies and managers are urged to see their employees as people rather than as tools and to contribute their strengths. It is precisely these strengths that are currently helping many companies to survive in this special situation.
CONCLUSION: USE THE CORONA CRISIS AS AN OPPORTUNITY?
Yes, it is the beginning of a new relationship in and around the workplace. Recognising, promoting and challenging this will take the company and its employees to a level never seen before. Anyone who wants to return to old structures and relationship habits will be surprised to discover that the past is actually gone and cannot be relived in the same way.
What is important now is that we enjoy the future more than the past.