I will spare you the story we all know - COVID 19 is here and is changing things, now and into the future.
I would like to share with you advice I would have even before now. Good organizations are good at remaining just that - good. If you consider yourself a good organization and are happy with that - good for you. You will likely inspire good people to join your organization and they will do good work for you. Your vision statement might look something like this - "We will be a very good organization - now and into the future."
If this sounds a bit contrary - good.
When I hear organizations are good I hear satisfied or complacent. I have certain terms that come to mind "steady as she goes" or "let's not rock the ship." Well, guess what, as we are seeing today sometimes it is not you that rocks the ship, it just gets rocked. And, if you have not intentionally stretched the capacity of your organization and built in some resilience, being good might not be good enough.
Previous blogs have spoken to using this time to look to be better than you were before. If you were good before now is the time to write a script on how to be better. Here are a few of my suggestions on how to do it.
Right now you have the time to really find out what it is that you do very well. Ask your staff (all of them) what they feel you do the absolute best. Depending on how big and/or diverse your organization is there will be a few to perhaps half a dozen services or programs that are standouts. To me, these are your candidates to look towards being better. These already inspire your team, they are already building your brand and they are your future.
Ask your staff things like "When you tell others about what we do what do you say? What are you most proud of at work?"
This does not mean let people go or go into cost-cutting mode. If you are a good organization you are most likely able to survive this current situation. Getting lean to me means using the fact that you just got to know yourself better, needing to take the next step and align your organization to maximize value in the areas you deemed your "sweet spot". Engage your organization on how to start reallocating and re-purposing from areas of lower value.
Ask questions like "If you could choose where to spend most of your work time, where would that be? And why?"
Too many good organizations see success in being good at many things. To take the next step towards being better and perhaps achieving greatness requires the ability to stop doing things that distract from greatness. Demonstrate to the organization that people have been heard, we listened and we are now going to empower you to give us the best you have. We are taking a focused journey toward being better than we are today - we are striving for greatness.
Ask questions like "What is an area in your work where you do not see a lot of value? If you could stop doing one thing today, what would that be and why?"
We already have tools to ask these questions of our staff. If you do not and have been using the excuse that we are too small or they are too costly - stop with those excuses. If you are small, then schedule some time with your employees to sit down and chat about these very things. Do it remotely if we are still facing in person challenges. If you are a bigger organization you will lose some of that intimacy but you can send out a staff survey that shares an inspiring message and answers the why. Why - we are going to be better and you are invited to shape that better.
Admittedly, a blog like this makes it sound simple. I will freely admit this will take time and effort. There will be challenges along the way. But, isn't this what you are already facing with the things you are currently doing? Nothing has come easy. It seems things take longer than they were perceived to. We do not feel we have an abundance of free time for innovation or strategy. So, unless you are truly great already (congratulations!) maybe, just maybe, now is the time to commit to a different journey. One where that time and effort is focused on being better.