We are in a global crisis, a crisis any living person has ever experienced before. Fortunately, humanity is known for its innovative power, resilience, and toughness. The crisis will fuel new energies, innovative ideas will emerge, necessary internal changes will be addressed. We are and will be facing major changes.
In the last 20 years alone, we all have experienced two or three crises that have caused massive damage to the global economy: think of 09/11 or the banking crisis. If we have not yet learned our lesson, then we should do it now. The next crisis is coming. Let us prepare well for this and revise our crisis management. So, all companies should see the crisis as an opportunity to address the question: what does my crisis management look like? How did we organize our crisis response?
Whether you're in response mode or working through a solid crisis management plan, it's going to pass. And the big question is: what's next for us? Based on the search words, we can expect many companies to expect outplacement and restructuring. No matter how much your company has been hit by the crisis, one thing is certain: in all companies, no stone will remain unturned.
For some time, change management has been the new constant. And this will be even more true after the Corona crisis, all companies will have to change. So what potential transformations are ahead of us?
The crisis will force many companies to lay off employees. Outplacement solutions will be gladly accepted. However, most States have taken decision to support economically important companies, in order not to destabilize the country too much.
Many German companies are currently being punished for missing their company’s digitalization. Accordingly, we can expect a strong boom of digitalization in 2020/2021. Solutions such as MS Teams, Zoom, Skype, etc. have been installed in a hurry in recent days. What will follow, however, is accelerated strategic planning of digitalization. How can we still produce, deliver and deliver in the next crisis? Do we have the right tools and infrastructure? How can we enable our employees to work in such an environment?
Restructurings are to be expected in most industries. Many companies will rethink their globalization strategy, new services will gain more weight, and the market will move strongly towards security and cleanliness. New organizational units will be created, and certain products and services will become obsolete. We also must anticipate many mergers and acquisitions. In other words, transformations and restructurings on a large scale are to be expected.
One might be inclined to claim that these changes are like other transformations. But there is a major difference from previous changes: due to the Corona crisis, it is a cultural and economic change that has taken place through all strata of society. It is not another change (in the sense of change is the new constant). It is a change that affects everyone and is very different from the "classic" optimization change.
Losing your job now or shortly after the Corona crisis is existential. There will be hardly any new job vacancies for the dismissed persons. And few people in the different company can sit back and relax because the feel their job is safe. This will tie a lot of resources inward (something we are already seeing today) and will greatly increase the burden on employees. But also lead to people getting involved into the transformation to underline their relevance to the company.
The need to change no longer needs to be explained. Everyone understands that the crisis will not pass without a trace. Everyone recognizes the need for change. But the same rules still apply as with normal change management projects: turn stakeholders into participants and develop a common vision. This is where the difficulty will lie: to explain and position the chosen solution.
Company’s culture gets a new relevance in crisis situations. Trust, honesty and responsibility are usually top values in Germany and around the world. After the crisis, executives will be asked to show leadership. Restructuring yes, but responsibly and in line with the company’s values means setting the red pen at all levels and developing fair solutions together (e.g. with the works council or the trade unions) so that the trust in the leadership can be maintained. And the uncertainty among employees can rapidly decrease.
Safety First is the new normal. While EHS (Environment, Health and Safety) used to be ridiculed, this department has gained momentum in the crisis. We just need to look to Asia to get a sense of what's coming. Health and consideration are values that have become more relevant and are accordingly also demanded by the employees. Restructuring for survival, restructuring for increased digitalization, but also restructuring to protect the individuals and to protect all.
E-learning or online solutions will play a stronger role. LMS (Learning Management Systems) and cooperation platforms are gaining in relevance, which could overwhelm many older employees. Change management programs will have to work with these new realities, including these (new) tools into their deployment.
The fact that the crisis has covered almost all sectors of the economy means that we all have an economic responsibility. We should think of all partners, whether they are suppliers, service providers or customers. What part can we play to get the global economy back on track quickly? How can we restructure our company so that we all emerge stronger from the crisis? It will therefore be a challenge to develop a joint transformation program with strategic partners and to tackle change together.
We are all called upon to prepare for this massive transformation. It is important to keep a cool head and work on the urgency (this should have been taken care by now) and now to prepare for the post-social distancing phase and the time after the exit bans. See change and the crisis as an opportunity to break new ground together and grow as a leaders and organizations!