2020 has been a year for change – in where we work, in how we work, and in the measurement of our work. And, we still have a quarter of the year left to go.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how many of us work. Many companies have transitioned to significant, if not more, work being done remotely – either work from home (WFH), working in satellite locations, or in smaller, isolated work groups. After months of this new working model, many people and companies are finding the work gets done as well or better, with less costs for the company and individual, and provides a better work-life balance.
Surveys suggest that 25-37% of organizations are not planning to go back to the old normal commute to a central office. The initial WFH move was a sudden change with only minimum time for planning beyond the short term; however, the paradigm has shifted, and this is now the new normal for many of us. The result means rethinking and better planning for how workers are managed to assure success over the long term.
At SDI, we have stayed agile by using technology, new software tools, and continuous performance measurements to compensate for our move to a flexible WFH model. We have seen our own reduced workloads during the shutdown go to adding new business with worker output and efficiency rebounding to new levels. Likewise, we see some clients racing just to meet unprecedented product demand, while others are challenged to get a new factory opened or operations back to stable—and a few are struggling to stay in business.
This year have seen many people shifting the work they do and the positions they take on to fill gaps or accepting entirely new roles. Many people are being put into leadership roles for the first time. Without past personal experience or benchmarks, they are repeatedly finding that expectations are unclear or shifting unexpectedly, while coping with leading people for the first time. It is challenging to be an effective new leader under the best of conditions and the “topsy turvy” 2020 conditions are testing even experienced leaders and management.
So how do we set and measure performance expectations with goals that are fair and meaningful? The old metrics may no longer make sense, and the jury is still out for some companies on where 2020 will end financially—not to mention what that could mean for employment or pay levels next year. The performance management systems of the past are no longer effective and are too rigid for the changing risks of a dynamic business environment where COVID seems to be on the raise again. Action is needed now to align leadership expectations, measure work performance, and reestablish baselines in case hard decisions are needed later. Leaders will need to plan how they can meet new challenges and changes that are coming as we move forward.
We are in a new workplace that nobody could have envisioned nine months ago…and things will not be returning to how they were before. Companies are changing and many organizations have found or are looking to find new leaders from within their ranks. The key to success is identifying those with the talent and providing them with the knowledge of the fundamentals needed to grow business now—and long after 2020 is past.
Shameless plug: SDI Clarity recently launched a new, online curriculum of eLearnings and virtual classroom workshop activities. This 4-week program covers the many facets of what new leaders need to know to drive performance in today’s business environment. Check us out online.