The PeopleCap Playbook

Timely insights and actionable people strategies for leaders.

Emerging Healthy

How healthy were you going into this crisis? Just as this virus exposes underlying health issues in those it attacks, the economic fallout and forced changes in how we work (for those of us fortunate enough to continue to work) are exposing and exacerbating the issues we ignored, avoided, put-off in our organizations.

Dysfunction does not go away in a crisis although it may hide temporarily under the false cover of a team pulling together to survive. As the uncertainty and stress of this crisis linger, old haunts return: team dysfunction, communication break-downs, lack of clarity, poor management and more.

One silver lining this crisis presents, however, is that every organization has been presented an invitation to hit the reset button: COVID-19 has forced us all to make significant adjustments as it is. This period of change opens the door for us to face what hasn’t worked and make the necessary changes to get healthier.

Organizations that take this opportunity to hit the gym and get stronger together are more likely to successfully emerge from this crisis and thrive into the future: if you don’t fix what ails you when the universe forces you to make change, then you will continue to be dragged down by underlying conditions that keep you from excelling.

How do you build a healthier organization right now?

  • First, be honest about what holds you back. Identify it, name it and own it. There are several techniques to do this – reach out and I will give you some free tips and tools.
  • Second, put your findings on the table and, as Brené Brown says, “rumble.” Provide the opportunity and set the expectation among your team that you are going to dig into these issues together with candor and caring. Hash them out – what doesn’t work? Why? Find out what the people on your team need, what they think would help improve the challenges, and what they hope it will look and feel like when you’ve all put in the work to get better.
  • Third, work collaboratively with your team to select the 2-3 issues you’ll focus on and devise solutions and strategies to get healthier in those areas. If communication was a challenge, brainstorm ways to communicate more effectively, select a couple of strategies, and put them to work.
  • Fourth, gain commitment from your team to make the changes together. You can’t get healthier if you’re not truly committed to implementing the strategies for change.
  • Fifth, accept that not every strategy will work. If one fails, that’s ok. Be honest about it and try another.
  • Finally, keep checking in during your weekly team meetings (if you don’t have these, this might be a good place to start). Ask everyone to honestly assess your progress. What’s getting in the way? Is a new strategy the answer or do you need more commitment to the strategies you laid out? Hold each other accountable and be open about what’s working or not.

In good times, a healthy organization thrives and creates more impact on their mission. It is also more likely to flex and successfully weather an unexpected crisis.

You can always get healthier – even in the midst of a crisis; especially when that crisis has handed you the opportunity to hit the reset button. The benefit to the duration of this crisis is that it’s bought you time to hit the gym. So, dig into your organizational health and commit to emerging from this crisis healthy and strong.