RENEW: 5 critical steps to ADVANCE™ after COVID

By: Susan Lucia Annunzio. Category: Newsletters

A common mistake many senior executive teams are making now during this time of uncertainty is to rush to create a new plan and begin executing it immediately. Before your team makes critical decisions — such as whether to change your business strategy, reorganize your leadership team, bring on new people or continue to work remotely — follow these five steps:

  1. Reframe Your Thinking. The best way forward in the long run is to slow down to speed up.
  2. Process Pent-Up Emotions. Unexamined emotions, such as grief over COVID losses, get in the way of effective decision making.
  3. Ask New Questions. Based on what you’ve learned during COVID, consider what changes you want to keep, discard and add.
  4. Evolve Your Thinking. Make a specific, actionable plan built on what you want to keep and add.
  5. Wave Good-Bye to Old Ways. Create a ritual to “throw away” what you want to discard. One company burned the notes listing what they wanted to discard and scattered the ashes at sea.

A CfHP client followed these steps after the 2008 financial crisis, and achieved record results the following year. Unite, the UK’s top provider of student accommodations, was hit hard by the crisis.

Shane Spiers, principal at Summit SCALE, was Unite’s Group HR director in 2008. “We felt things were outside of our control,” he recalled. “But we managed it. The task then became bringing everyone along with us.”

In January 2009 CfHP conducted a two-day ADVANCE™ with Unite’s senior executives. In the opening team exercise, they were asked to draw an image that represented the past year. The CEO, a reserved Englishman, drew a picture of himself piloting an airplane soaring upward. He said he felt elated — and then a missile hit the plane and it crashed underwater. The CEO broke down in tears and the team members bonded around their similar emotional journeys.

They recognized the need to process what happened before they could move forward. “We hadn’t realized the emotional toll,” Spiers said. After surfacing their emotions, leaders were able to develop an action plan for their teams and let the past go.

Let CfHP help your Senior Leadership Team ADVANCE™ to the future. Learn more about our executive ADVANCES™ here or email me at