Working Together During a Pandemic to Drive Positive Organizational Change

Author by Nick Rustad

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With the reduction of face-to-face conversations, our ability to influence others to drive change has been challenging.  Prior to Covid-19, we could schedule a meeting, bring the team together in a room, and discuss topics with the ability to view facial expressions, body language, and other tacit indicators to ensure understanding and compliance with whatever topic discussed.  We must now rely on some other techniques to push change forward within organizations to ensure successful project completions.

Below are some suggestions to help bridge the gap, since most of us do not have the luxury of face-to-face conversations.

  • Know the Culture - make sure that during conversations with team members, you understand if the organization is:
    • Learning or Doing - is the organization a learning organization?  In other words, do they put a high value on training and education, or are they more concerned with results.
    • Consensus driven or top down executive direction.  Does this organization have committees who make decisions or is strategic direction set by leadership and then resource teams carry out the orders?
  • Know the History - the people you are interacting with have experiences that govern behavior.  Are they worried about working with consultants because in the past it did not go well?

Once you understand these main two concepts, you can adjust your approach with a team.  For example, if an organization is learning and consensus driven, they will want to focus more on understanding.  This will equate to more time in workshops, more demos, more discussion, and potentially more time spent on a project.  If an organization is more focused on results and executive direction, they will want due dates, quick and immediate value add.

Here are my top 5 tips to address these topics and also to improve OCM during a pandemic:

  • Always have the camera on!  Use the camera as often as possible, especially with learning and consensus driven organizations.  They tend to be more interested in human interactions and adapt to read visual cues more effectively
  • When not speaking - SMILE!  It may be painful to hold a smile for a long time but look for opportunities when teammates and others are focused and show those teeth!  A smile is your signal of care, concern, understanding, and it sends great subconscious cues.
  • Don't distract - watch that mute button, especially if you have kids or animals near by or in your workspace.  
  • Demonstrate - show progress, use graphics, without the use of your hands to highlight topics on a board, or to gesture, it is critical to use all your tools to get the point across.
  • Bonding time is critical - we are no longer meeting at the office coffee station, or seeing each other in the hallway.  It is a good idea to share aspects of your personal life during a meeting, maybe schedule some extra time for your next meeting.  Teams will work better if they go through bonding.

We need all of this to help cause change within our organizations. Effective teamwork drives change. It will take more work to learn how to help each other on our teams and also during projects for Organizational Change Management.

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