Change, whilst uncomfortable is inevitable especially in challenging times like COVID-19. So what have we learned and what changes have made all the difference?

As a leader I am acutely aware of the changing world around us, even though there are clear and differing scales of impact for every one of us. From a personal perspective the rules of social distancing and all that comes with it in our little family circle has been a true challenge. Explaining to our children that they cannot see their grandparents was one of our toughest moments of this virus however, we are now weeks on and they have, as children do, adapted very well to change. As leaders, so have we!  

Through personal reflection over the last two months and the recent easing of restrictions, I have summarised my own list of the top six areas we have focused on that have positively impacted our ability to adapt to this strange, new world. These six areas include:-

  1. Communication being your secret weapon 
  2. Having a plan
  3. Positivity being the new black
  4. Getting creative with technology 
  5. Galvanising your team with meaning
  6. Finding creative inspiration from your team

    Each week, I’ll be expanding on two of the above key areas, starting with communication being your secret weapon and the necessity to have a detailed, well thought out, collaborative plan. Here goes…

Communication is your secret weapon

If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is to pivot and more importantly, to do so quickly. We’ve definitely seen this from the Australian Government and the small business market is no different. 

In the very early stages of the virus, all of my team commenced working from home and I saw two immediate impacts; 1. Increased productivity and 2. A sense of loneliness. Pre COVID, our team would meet weekly to discuss workload and priorities however based on the impacts of working from home we very quickly moved this meeting to a daily catch up for 15 minutes. 

Over the last few weeks this has developed into a 30 min check-in where we would spend most of our meeting sharing, discussing highlights and learning about one another. This is one of the most beneficial changes we made because when a team loses the opportunity to interact personally at an office environment, we needed to find a new normal and recreate this type of connection. Each morning without fail we have run icebreakers and games that have given us the opportunity to laugh, connect and remember the difference we make to the workplace, to our customers and to our community.  One of my favourite icebreakers was asking the team to bring a funny joke to share. Here is the joke that won – “What is the opposite of ‘isolate’? Wait for it… “I so early”

I’ve always laughed at myself and never taken myself too seriously… Victor Borge once said, “a smile is the shortest distance between two people”. Through communication, especially in these times, making people smile is vitally important.

Have a plan

French writer and poet Antoine de Saint-Exupery once said “A goal without a plan is just a wish”. 

As a leadership team we decided early to plan our way out of COVID-19. In the early days this was difficult to envisage as those first weeks were purely about survival and trying our very best to keep as many people as possible employed. 

Once the survival instinct calmed slightly, we pivoted quickly to planning our way out i.e. a six month plan that started with the end in mind.  The key questions we asked ourselves were:- what did we want to be known for as an organisation at the end of COVID-19, what key areas did we need to focus on, what did we need to achieve to survive in the new world post COVID-19 and how could we keep the culture of HTG and our vision where ‘people come first’ alive? 

We ran the very old yet worthwhile process of completing a SWOT on our business moving through COVID-19 and the insights delivered from this process very quickly highlighted our key strategic pillars.  

The sooner you can build and then articulate the plan, the sooner the people will support you and your direction. 

Next week I will share more on the power of positivity and the no limits approach to technology.

Danielle Norton-Smith