We’re living in an interesting moment of sudden change; one in which we all have an opportunity (some would say responsibility) to champion change – even though it’s scary and uncomfortable.
Just a few weeks ago, we were all business as usual – going where we please, shaking hands and dishing the best fist bumps and high-fives in the history of mankind. Then suddenly, we all started to learn that the coronavirus wasn’t a medical term for the hangover produced by a certain beer -and why social distancing was something we were all about to become very familiar with.
I’m fortunate enough to work for a digital transformation firm with the infrastructure to support geographically disperse teamwork and was quick to educate and embrace preventative measures to help limit the spread of this deadly virus. However, I understand and empathize with those who aren’t as fortunate or work in domains where contact with others is critical to the business model.
Stepping into the virtual neighborhoods of LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook during this time is an interesting case study in effective and ineffective change management. As digital innovation velocity increases, those who are best positioned to weather the disruption of the next wave technologies or social catastrophes, will have a change management methodology in both business and their personal lives. Critical work streams such as communications, training, champion/influencer enablement, reinforcement and resistance management play vital roles in successfully navigating change.
In many ways the COVID-19 pandemic response makes this case clear. There’s misinformation, conjecture and fear overlapping with credible data and facts about the virus and risks, making it difficult for many to assess what they should actually do to protect themselves and their loved ones.
Ineffective -or the absence of clear and concise- communications in the change management space can cause cognitive distortions (or confirmation biases) to run wild. A few of the main biases we see in the business space (when there isn’t a solid change management plan in place) are:
Filtering - Users minimize the positives and amplify the negatives of the change
Polarized thinking – Users adopt an “all or nothing” view of the change
Jumping to conclusions – Users become fortune tellers about “what’s really going on”
Catastrophizing – Users see what’s happening solely as a threat to their security
Let’s view these biases through the optics of people’s reactions to COVID-19:
- Filtering – You can’t touch anybody!
- Polarized thinking – “I’m buying a hazmat suit on Amazon now!” versus “*shrug* #yolo, cheap vacation window!”
- Jumping to conclusions – *insert your favorite conspiracy theory here*
- Catastrophizing – The movie “I Am Legend” is now a survival documentary!
Awareness is a key component to action (positive or negative). When there’s a strong and consistent communications plan that focuses on users’ awareness, desire and knowledge in regard to the change, transformation initiatives will meet or exceed the expectations. Conversely, when the communications plan is unclear or - in the case of business innovation- solely focused on the technology, it can cause fear and skepticism in users – resulting in failed initiative.
In the case of COVID-19, the information streams that present solid, objective data and let consumers draw their own conclusions, are powerful tools to drive the desire for positive action – conversely, “click-bait” sites that sensationalize or focus on single points of view can encourage people to catastrophize, purposely do nothing or simply experience paralysis (not knowing what to do or believe).
Change is always complex, but partnership with the right information streams and experts is key to empowering others with the knowledge and ability to join in the change.
In my own family, we’ve had to stay ahead of the curve due to my son’s preexisting conditions. Luckily, Valorem immediately embraced change in the age of C-19 moving to 100% remote. Unfortunately, my son’s mother works in an industry where face-to-face interaction is still imperative to business. How would we make that work? Our answer: dual isolation; my son and I in one location and his mother in another.
As most of us parents are experiencing, children at home during work hours definitely presents challenges and hurdles. Fortunately, modern workplace technology has given me access to many cutting edge applications that make it easier to stay connected and collaborate with our teams at home. Wherever possible I’ve also brought those technologies into my personal life.
Since my son is only 4, his generation is fully immersed in the digital age. Recently I bought him a transformer from my youth that turns into a tape player – enter a lengthy explanation about what exactly a tape player was, but I digress. So we’ve made a smooth transition to using Microsoft Teams as a way for he and his mother to have their normal book reading sessions and remain connected in spite of the physical distance.
Embracing change in this moment will open new doors for virtual connection in our personal and professional lives. Soon, I hope we can all see it through our children’s eyes turning isolation into simply some fun family time (with super productive stolen moments of work).
As scary as a pandemic or any worldly catastrophe can be, it presents us with a moment to understand the value of effectively managing change personally and professionally. When people work together (and with the right tools) change can be minimally disruptive and lead to great outcomes. At Valorem we recognize Change Management as a critical component of the innovation journey and any successful digitalization initiative.
For the foreseeable future, we all may be juggling remote work and family. If you don’t feel you have the tools you need to be productive at home, Microsoft is offering free access to cutting edge communication and collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams and Office 365 and is consistently sharing helpful tips for using those tools and staying productive at home. Below are some curated articles you might find helpful.
Remote Productivity Tips and Tools:
- Support remote workers using Microsoft Teams
- Staying productive while working remotely with Microsoft Teams
- Digital transformation of live events
- Delivering online meetings and events
- 2 Weeks in: What we’ve learned about remote work
- Our commitment to customers during COVID-19
- 9 Tips for having the best online meeting experience with Microsoft Teams
- 4 Tips for working from home with Microsoft Teams
If you are a business leader looking for a quick and reliable solution to an increasing disperse workforce, Valorem Reply offers a host of innovative technology, process and people solutions. Check out our Teams Rapid Deployment solution for those looking to quickly and effectively implement Teams across their enterprise.
Stay safe, take proper precautions, disseminate information from credible sources and take care of each other. See you in-person on the other side!