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Jump Ahead of the Curve

Access Continuum’s COVID response toolkit for leaders, teams and organizations

Continuum Consulting Services LLC

No one can deny that 2020 has been quite a ride so far, and the end is not in sight. Our clients are telling us they feel the fatigue of ongoing pressures and enormous new challenges.

Having consulted in multiple sectors for more than 25 years, at the onset of the pandemic, we became very curious about the stages businesses would cycle through during what is now being termed the COVID Era. Those stages would determine the leadership skills and strategies needed to weather the crisis. We were also excited to study the many innovations that would emerge as organizations continued to move through this time, as well as possibilities for regeneration on the other side.

Our first step in understanding the current reality and potential impacts was to design the COVID Leadership Model and document the stages we believed all organizations would travel through during this process. The next step would be to observe, test, and verify the model.

And that is what we have been doing.

Over the past few months, we have researched emerging best practices, formally interviewing leaders and teams around the model, capturing what we are hearing and seeing during our consulting programs, and talking with other organizational development professionals in the field. Our goal has been to assess the phase(s) teams are navigating within the model, identify challenges they are facing, and document the decisions and actions leaders are taking to address emergent needs. 

And now…

We plan to share this knowledge with you through our ongoing COVID Era Leadership “Lessons from the Field” blogs and podcast series. We will be bringing you weekly articles, inspirations, and blog posts containing just-in-time information for you to leverage.

A Taste of Our Findings

Although situations vary among locations, sectors, and individual companies, we find that most organizations have passed through the immediate crisis of “Phase 1’s ”Oh, Sh*t” and Phase 2's “Now What?!” But, just as leaders thought they had reset their systems to accommodate new circumstances, they saw that still more was needed. From August to mid-September, most leaders we spoke with reflected that sense of not being ‘out of the woods yet’ by identifying themselves as being in “Phase 3 “Wait! There’s More,” although a few felt they were moving into Phase 4 “We’ve Got This!”

Top challenges for leaders now

What are we hearing?

  • Crisis fatigue. What most of us believed would only require a few months of interrupted operations now looks like a mid-to-late 2021 target date for full reopening into a new normal. Leaders are tired.
  • Ongoing disruptions. Many feel like there is a boogie man around every corner; as soon as one problem is resolved, another emerges.
  • Teams just want to have some fun. Everyone has been working so hard, and they want to have time to breathe and reconnect.
  • Staying on the same page. Communicating effectively and keeping everyone engaged and motivated in a virtual environment is an ongoing challenge.
  • Onboarding shifts. Training, supporting, and getting new people ramped up successfully when they are not able to be at the office or meet fellow team members face to face demands rethinking the whole ‘welcome and orientation’ process.
  • Expanding family concerns. Parenting and schooling while working from home is a challenge for everyone. Some companies are making allowances for working parents. This often means more work for employees who are not parents. We are starting to hear about single people pushing back on extra work with no additional pay.

What are leaders doing about it?

  • Team building. We are getting calls from leaders who want virtual team building events, lists of icebreakers managers can add to meetings, and strategies for making virtual meetings more interactive and fun.
  • Team agreements. Teams are revamping agreements to better facilitate virtual work, meeting structure and cadence, and zoom and email etiquette.
  • Affinity groups. To provide support for a cluster of emerging COVID needs, companies are initiating self-managing groups on themes such as parenting, living alone, managing illness and multi-generational family issues, grief and loss, or staying productive and balanced while working virtually. People can share best practices or just talk about the issues associated with that group.
  • Increased wellbeing support. Given the stress of managing family and work in COVID conditions, companies are expanding services such as flex hours, paid leave, and more options for child-care.
  • New onboarding programs. Organizations are reassessing new hire onboarding processes to introduce new employees to the team and organization in ways that allow them to integrate themselves effectively into their new positions.

Over the next few months, we will share the best practices we discover in ways we hope will be of service to you. We believe that the free sharing of information around new innovations in the field is essential for us all to survive and thrive moving forward.


We'd like to hear from you, too!

Invitation

We invite you to share your learnings with us. Email us at Info@continuumcs.com to contribute a best practice or article you find helpful. Let us know if you would like to be interviewed about your experiences in the COVID era.

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Wendy B. White, co-founder and partner for Continuum Consulting Services, has shared her passion, insight, creativity and wealth of experience over 20 years with client Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, educational institutions, international NGOs, nonprofits and social entrepreneurs.