After COVID-19: How leaders can engage employees during a return to work

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Leadership / Ledarskap on July 2nd, 2020 by admin

As organizations embark on the reentry phase of the COVID-19 crisis, four practices can help them build trust and a sense of purpose for the long term.

When the COVID-19 crisis first erupted, organizations across the world were plunged into such uncertainty it was hard for many to know whether they would emerge intact. Now, though the road ahead remains difficult, leaders are shifting from whether they can return to how to do so.Leaders are also having to manage waves of unfore­seen crises, including the recent protests in the United States and elsewhere. These events can take as much of a toll on workers’ productivity and mental health as radical, rapid changes in the workplace. Employees will have to confront cycles of disruption and adaptation, driven both by pandemic-related health reasons and new business imperatives, ranging from reorganizations to further reductions in workforces or furloughs.This reentry and recovery phase of the pandemic crisis provides leaders with a compelling reason to engage and strengthen overall connections with employees. Recognizing and addressing the core human emotions of grief, loss, and anxiety in the workplace is a chance to rebuild organizational health, productivity, and talent retention. It provides a historic opportunity to overcome the stigma of mental and emotional health as taboo topics for workplace discussion, especially the feelings of isolation and shame that are attached to job losses and other employment casualties.Companies that have pledged to support their workforces and have delivered on that promise have demonstrated their reliability and bolstered their reputations. Now is the time to continue to maintain and build on that trust, as the focus shifts from public health in general to the specifics of each organization’s individual recoveries.Clear and inspiring communication is central to making this next unsteady phase a success. In addition to moving decisively on strategic changes, leaders need to help rattled workforces believe in the future. For many people, their employer has been a zone of relative stability during a time of chronic uncertainty. Employees have viewed corporate leaders as the most trusted source of information since the frantic early days of the pandemic, especially where state institutions have been less reliable in their responses.Communication messaging and activity in four overlapping phases will help employees move from loss to renewal. These steps—laying the groundwork, honoring the past, marking the transi­tion, and looking to the future—can help leaders design the right approach to communicating that works for their organization’s circumstances, culture, and history.Because actual experiences of the pandemic will have varied, we segment organizations into “survivors” (struggling to stay in business), “adapters” (having to change their business models radically), and “thrivers” (well-positioned because of extra demand or because they were already working remotely). Some of the ideas below will need to be nuanced differently for each segment.

Lay the groundwork: Be sensitive to employees’ needs

Before thinking about reentry at scale, leaders should understand where people are mentally and prepare accordingly. Some will be enthusiastic about returning to the office, while others will not want to venture back yet. Still others may want to reenter in theory, but worry about risks to their health and the safety of their loved ones.

Teachers from Lombardy to the United Kingdom to New York are a good example of how leaders have to weigh these concerns. Many want to return out of a sense of professionalism and because they miss their students; on the other hand they must think about their own health and that of their families if reopened schools become new vectors of transmission.

In addition to immediate risks to their own health and safety and that of their loved ones, people are facing long-term uncertainty around lockdowns and job insecurity: Will their employer go under? Will their retirement savings be wiped out by a new depression? Based on stress syndromes from previous pandemics and early surveys from Asia during COVID-19, there may be a 25 percent stress syndrome incidence rate.

Practical steps include:

  • Survey employees regularly so you know which camp they fall into. Focus on psychological readiness, and seek to identify practical concerns. Know who wants to come back as soon as possible, and who will need more time to be comfortable—whether because they are in high-risk groups or because they no longer have reliable childcare, or for some other reason. This will depend to some extent on job categories, with some people having less choice about when to return. Here too inequalities will need to be addressed with sensitivity.
    • For survivors, show how returning to work will increase the chances of a quick return to viability.
    • For adapters, show how the new ways of work­ing will continue to help the organization.
    • For thrivers, show how the return is a consolidation of and a reward for everyone’s efforts.
  • Make your return planning processes transparent. Indicate who is working on the plan, how they are thinking about it, and when announcements will be made. Make it clear how you will be thinking about phasing and who will fall into which phase. Where possible, put bounds on the uncertainty: What do you know is definitely happening, what is definitely not happening, and when do you expect to have firmer answers?
  • Offer information about the practicalities. How hard is it to travel to your site(s)? What has changed in terms of public transport? What will being back at the site look and feel like? This might be a combination of written materials and videos.
  • Solicit feedback from all stakeholders on a recurring basis. Some have put together task forces to simply process feedback; others have set up recurring dialogues with employees.
  • Clarify how people can get their questions addressed.

Honor the past: Address emotions directly

Research into post-traumatic growth suggests that companies that move effectively to address trauma, grief, loss, uncertainty, and anxiety can rebound more quickly and experience stronger success. Throughout the pandemic, employees have experienced varying degrees of trauma and loss, both in their workplaces and in their personal lives. As grief experts have written, acknowledging and addressing loss helps people build resilience.

Leaders need to invest time in cultivating open, compassionate conversations about what has been lost in the pandemic. They should validate that there is an emotional impact and that it can be a topic of discussion in the workplace. While conversations about the emotional toll of the pan­demic may seem uncomfortable or unnecessary, they help strengthen ties with employees, who appreciate leaders’ openness.

Top teams that skip this step risk the appearance of being tone deaf or callous, thereby undermining their authentic concerns about moving the organization forward. Leaders should be sure their efforts are authentic; acting empathetic without showing true compassion can, in some cases, make things worse. Precise messaging will of course depend on the circumstances and the context.

In addition to individual or team conversations, look for ways that companies can honor the past. For instance, companies that have dealt with workplace violence have found ways to mourn the loss of employees through memorials, establishing scholarships, holding fundraisers, or volunteering together for a cause that resonates with the team.

Practical steps include:

  • Lead conversations with individuals and teams about emotional impact.
    • The CEO needs to be prominent here; this is not work to be delegated. Our experience is that employees are more eager than ever to hear from their organization’s top leader. This may well involve attending multiple smaller groups.
    • Normalize emotional concerns of employees at all levels. Hold top team conversations about real and perceived losses from the pandemic, how it has affected us and recognize the contributions that the team and all employees have made. Define this as an important and open conversation to have. Ensure that other leaders work with their teams similarly, and cascade the conversation throughout the organization.
  • Take time to celebrate and reinforce the values the company stands for, and how they were demonstrated in the company’s pandemic response.

For example, a century ago Lysol marketed itself as a weapon against the Spanish Flu. Today, employees are being encouraged to see them­selves as frontline workers helping to keep people safe. Several hotel chains in the United States and some universities and hotels in the United Kingdom have offered their prop­erties to medical personnel who needed a place to rest while caring for COVID-19 patients in nearby hospitals.

  • For survivors, stress the long history of the organization and how it has weathered storms before.
  • For adapters, stress the ways in which the organization has reinvented itself in the past.
  • For thrivers, stress the ways in which current success is built on long-standing values.

Create company-wide recognition efforts to honor employees who:

  • died in the pandemic (recognizing those who have passed away is crucial to normalizing loss and grief)
  • served on the frontlines during the crisis (medical personnel, volunteers)
  • kept the organization moving (the “quiet heroes”)

In some cases it will also be appropriate to honor clients, partners, suppliers, and customers who may have died or served on the crisis frontlines. Being explicit about these recognition efforts will stop the losses from becoming a great unmentionable. As grief expert David Kessler says, “What everyone has in common is that no matter how they grieve, they share a need for their grief to be witnessed.” Leaders are important sources of resilience for their people—and also important factors in post-traumatic growth following crisis.

Showing gratitude (as well as receiving it) is also important for mental health. For example, during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, first responders who reported stronger feelings of gratitude subsequently reported higher levels of resilience and life satisfaction. During COVID-19, people across the globe have honored hospital workers and first responders by cheering together at an appointed hour. Hospital workers have also gathered to support patients being sent home after recovering from the virus. These examples provide an indelible sense of everyone being in the crisis together.

  • Create an ecosystem so employees can maintain relationships with those who have been furloughed or lost their jobs, presumably for economic reasons and not for lack of perfor­mance. Isolation from others in the pandemic, coupled with the stigma of job loss, can have a devastating impact on departing employees.
    • Let retained employees know that it’s OK to have a relationship with former colleagues and reach out to provide support in their job searches.
    • Launch or expand an alumni network to main­tain good relationships and foster a future talent network. These networks are a natural connection point to continue relationships.
    • Link these stay-in-touch efforts to company values such as respect and collaboration.
  • Survey employees after these activities to assess how well honoring the past has worked. Con­sider measuring employee health factors such as burnout, job satisfaction, and psychological safety. Some elements may need to be repeated, or integrated as part of the new ways of working.

Mark the transition: Recognize the power of ritual

Rituals create a sense of familiarity and reassurance. They help us navigate loss and celebrate joyful events in our lives: births, graduations, weddings, funerals, and more. People often turn to rituals because the psychological processes underlying them have been shown to have a stress-reducing component.6

Likewise, COVID-19 has created unprecedented upheaval in the lives of our organizations. New rituals, along with company values and a renewed sense of purpose, can serve as pillars of psychological safety and normality.7 They can help employees process what has happened and rebuild social capital—and hopefully replace some of what people have lost. And rebuilding old rituals will be just as important. All rituals are a way of communicating to employees that the losses they have experienced are collectively acknowledged and are manageable.

The workplace provides a relevant and powerful source to help people put traumatic situations into a more motivational perspective. As furloughed employees return to employment and people return from remote working to office- or site-based working, rituals will help mark the start of a new phase in the organization’s life. In terms of Kübler-Ross’s model of the five stages of grief, this is where employees will start to move from depression to acceptance.

We recommend nominating a specific date, or timeframe, that the organization will collectively treat as the start of the “next normal” and around which rituals can be enacted. Of course, not everyone will reenter physically or psychologically at the same time or pace. Things could go awry because of public-health concerns and consequential disruption. Starts are likely to be staggered and involve shifts and cohorts.

For that reason, any date will be in many respects arbitrary—as it is for a wedding—but it is still important to set one. This is the point at which the social ties that bind the organization together are refreshed and reinforced and renewed.

Throughout this phase, focus messaging on discovery as a way simultaneously to look back and ahead. Essentially answer this question: Through the crisis and our response, what have we learned about ourselves, each other, and our organization that can help us in the future?

Practical steps include:

  • Make the focus of communication the well-being of employees, not work.
  • Set a specific timeframe of events (exhibit) for the organization to pivot from past to future.
  • Provide a “welcome back” kit, consisting of what employees need to navigate the new normal. This might include equipment as well as rules of the road for meetings, elevator use, and so on; medical experts can offer specific guidance on the most appropriate products to include. The University of Virginia, for example, will offer returning students a welcome-back kit that includes masks, hand sanitizer, and a tool to help open doors and press buttons.
  • Be sure people continue to know where to turn for help and continue to communicate the availability of resources, including employee assistance programs (EAPs).

Look to the future: Embrace a new sense of purpose

Leaders may be tempted to withdraw into small, tight decision-making task forces to make key decisions as quickly as possible. Instead, they can use this moment to define and demonstrate a common sense of purpose with employees, who will be looking for leadership and ways to engage themselves. Purposeful leaders will want to share execution plans broadly with staff to solicit input and engage them on the challenges the organization faces.

Taking the time to reflect on purpose can have an array of benefits. At the organizational level, purpose­ful companies have been shown to out­perform competitors on equity returns and have more engaged employees. At the personal level, reconnecting to purpose has been shown to be a critical factor in coping with crises and trauma. When decision makers align their decision making and communication messaging with a sense of purpose they may help support their employees’ potential at a time when leadership needs it most.

Use this period to create a cultural conversation across the company and a positive outlook about its future. Many of the recommended activities above will be appropriate for small groups, perhaps spread over a few weeks or, where possible, held simul­taneously on a single day, with options for people to participate remotely.

Practical steps include:

  • Start or renew discussions on corporate purpose, based on discoveries from the crisis.
    • For survivors, how do we retain our purpose in a changed world?
    • For adapters, how do we move quickly to new ways of working?
    • For thrivers, how do we maintain our current success as the world slowly returns to normal?
  • Show how this purpose feeds into strategic direction—the “Where are we going?” Articulate how to strengthen the connection between purpose and business actions, for instance, how we display the value of “customer first” in specific actions, such as offering a comprehen­sive customer experience, that we have never taken before.
    • Managers and team leaders should speak with their teams about how the work they’re doing contributes to recovery; they can ask people what motivates them and gives their work meaning.
  • Set the strategic direction in context by develop­ing, articulating, and sharing the organization’s new/refreshed change story—the “How do we get there, and why will it be worth it?” This will help people understand what the future looks like:
    • What has changed over the last few months?
    • What has stayed the same? (This includes the enduring values story.)
    • How do we prioritize?
    • What are new expectations of leaders? Of employees?
  • Commit/recommit to organizational health. This could include new or updated diagnostics and surveys.
  • Showcase stories about “living your purpose,” both personal and organizational, in internal communications: through the company intranet, news stories, and town halls.
  • Continue to monitor the effectiveness of communication over the course of a few months; evaluate and adjust as needed.

All of the practical steps we recommend above stem from the need for clear, empathetic communi­cation that keeps people optimistic and hopeful, but also resilient and prepared for further disruption. This stage of recovery will challenge organizations’ communications functions to become even more agile, as they shift between crisis response mode and normal, more future-oriented strategies. Leaders will not know all the answers, but as long as they communicate openly and candidly, employees will respect being brought into the conversation.


Source:, 26 June 2020
Authors: David Honigmann, Ana Mendy and Joe Spratt
About the author(s): David Honigmann is a client communication expert in McKinsey’s London office, Ana Mendy is a partner in the Southern California office, and Joe Spratt is a client communication expert in the Chicago office.

Use Care When Introducing Coaching Skills to Managers

Posted in Aktuellt, Leadership / Ledarskap on June 29th, 2020 by admin

As a learning and development professional, how do you introduce coaching behaviors to your managers?

“Carefully!” says Madeleine Blanchard, director of coaching services at The Ken Blanchard Companies. “It’s easy for a good thing to go sideways.”

“A lot of bosses have read somewhere that they need to ask more questions. Or listen better. Or provide better feedback,” explains Blanchard. “But without training and a solid plan, it is easy to swing from one extreme to another. The goal is to create a leadership curriculum that helps leaders develop balanced skills, meets people’s needs, and also gets real results.”

That starts with goal setting and direction, says Blanchard.

“If someone is brand new to a task, you don’t ask questions; you tell them what to do. When people have more experience, that’s when you’ll ask the questions.”

Blanchard shares an example.
“Let’s say a manager in a hospitality industry is instructed to do more asking instead of telling. That manager may think it’s okay to ask ‘How do you think we should go about setting up the banquet room for this event?’ to someone who’s never done it before. That’s exactly the wrong thing to do with someone who is new to a task—and it’s a complete waste of everyone’s time. What that manager needs to say in this case is, ‘We are having this many people, which means it’s that many tables.’ Clear, step-by-step: ‘This is how to do it.

“A lot of bosses who think they should be asking questions don’t really understand when and how to do it. They’ll say, ‘I’m asking a lot of questions because I want to have buy-in from people. I want to make sure they feel like they’re included.’ That’s all fine and well, but those people need to have the experience and expertise so that their feedback will add value, versus wasting everybody’s time.”

Blanchard says listening is another skill that can go awry if managers aren’t taught how to keep the conversation on track.

“It’s critical for all managers to develop better listening skills. The problem is if you listen just to listen, some people will go off on tangents and hours will fly by. As a leader, you have to listen for things that will move the conversation forward. Listen so you can steer the discussion toward the area you’re trying to focus on. You may have to call a time out—step in and redirect by saying, ‘May I interrupt? Can we get back to the point?’

“Better questions—what and how questions—can help here. The questions need to be short and targeted specifically toward problem solving and moving people into action.

“Coach-like managers are always moving toward clarity, focus, or action. One of the most common rookie coaching questions is ‘How do you feel about that?’ I know you mean well, but that’s a therapy question, not a coach-like management question. Your goal as a coach-like manager is to clearly pursue what already has been agreed upon by you and the other person.”

Blanchard explains that as a leadership, learning, or talent development professional, you are always looking to help your leaders develop a dual focus on people and results. The same is true when learning how to deliver effective feedback.

“For example, I’m the boss and I go to Ryan and say, ‘You were supposed to be here at 9:00 but you weren’t. What’s going on?’ Ryan says, ‘Oh, my mother’s sick and my car broke down.’ I offer to help him troubleshoot the problems and ask, ‘Would that be helpful to you?’ He says, ‘Yes, please. Let’s do that.’ Then we talk about his transportation issues, or the fact that his mother’s sick and he can’t get out the door because there’s nobody else to take care of his mother. ‘That’s a real problem—let’s talk about that.’ Both parties have to agree on a solution.”

“If a person comes to me and says, ‘It’s really hard for me to talk to customers at the front desk. I’m in a constant state of panic.’ Then I can say, ‘Okay. Let’s talk about that. How might I be able to help you with this?’ Or, ‘What would be helpful to talk about?’ Like that. But we still need to agree.

“It gets trickier when you are offering feedback that is more subjective like teaming, collaboration, or communication skills. You have to ask for permission to share observations in these cases. As a coach-like manager, you say, ‘This input isn’t a request or a requirement, it’s a suggestion. It’s more for your own wellbeing and long-term success, not necessarily for me.’

“When you are offering subjective feedback, look for opportunities to say, ‘I’m glad you’re here. I’m glad you’re on my team. I know you can do this because I saw you do that other thing that was hard. You had the will, you persisted.’ It’s important to remind people of good qualities you’ve observed in them.”

Finally, for L&D professionals looking for a way to promote more coach-like behavior in their organizations, Blanchard suggests a clear starting place.

“Encourage your managers to set aside a little extra time in their one-on-ones—10 to 15 minutes—to ask coaching questions. At The Ken Blanchard Companies, we’ve been beating the drum about better one-on-ones since the beginning of time. How to be a good boss? Check in!

“Good questions could be: ‘What’s most interesting to you about your job? What do you like most about the job? What do you like the least? What would your dream job be? What would you really like to be doing someday?’ That will get the conversations moving in a new and motivating direction.”

Source:, August 2019

Use a High Involvement Approach When Leading Change

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Leadership / Ledarskap on June 6th, 2020 by admin

“What will social distancing look like for us?” “Who have you consulted with?” “How will our performance goals be adjusted?” “What if I don’t have access to childcare?” “What precautions have been put in place to make sure it’s safe to return to work?”

These are just some of the questions leaders need to be prepared for as they consider how they are going to re-open their businesses, says Blanchard change expert Judd Hoekstra.

“The biggest mistake leaders can make is to assume that everyone in the organization is as far along the change process as they are,” says Hoekstra. “It’s easy to forget that while the senior leadership team has been reviewing the data and having planning meetings, the same isn’t true for rank and file employees.”

Hoekstra explains that people have five predictable stages of concern—and corresponding questions—when evaluating a change: information concernspersonal concerns, and implementation concerns followed by impact concerns and refinement concerns.

“When the senior leadership team begins asking people to come back to work, it’s important to allow time to address people’s first three stages of concern. These are the stages that leaders often bypass or don’t spend much time on, mainly because they personally have already worked through them over many weeks of discussions. Because they’ve done it, they mistakenly underestimate the time that others will need to process the same concerns. Our research shows that during change, leaders need to meet folks where they are. So people’s information, personal, and implementation concerns about change are critical for leaders to address right away.

“One of the worst things a leader can do is initiate a change without first addressing people’s concerns. Pushing ahead for the sake of expediency causes people to think ‘My manager hasn’t thought about me at all in this. They haven’t thought about how this is going to impact me.’ On the other hand, when leaders talk about those concerns, people think ‘My manager cares about my concerns—and about me.’

“Leaders have a tendency to want to move fast during change, often by using a top-down approach. While they can make decisions quickly using that approach, it’s likely to slow down or possibly derail implementation of the change because they won’t have the commitment level from people in the company. At best, they’ll have compliance, which won’t be enough in the long term. But if leaders slow down a little bit on the front end by involving more people, giving them a voice in the process, and getting dialogue going, the change implementation will move faster and results will come sooner.”

One of the questions Hoekstra often hears from leaders who are considering using a high involvement strategy is how to make the needed decisions to keep moving forward.

“Even though everyone needs to be involved in the process, that doesn’t mean everyone’s going to have a vote. In our Leading People through Change® training program, we discuss the difference between having a voice and having a vote. While few organizations would allow employees a vote in the change process, all organizations have an opportunity to give people a voice. And that voice goes a long way in lowering people’s resistance to the change. Just knowing that the leaders initiating the change are taking input from a lot of different sources and different people goes a long way. People see it as more of a smart process and are better able to understand the rationale for the decisions being made.”

Hoekstra emphasizes that change is a process done best with people, not to people. He points to Gartner research that shows how the most change-adaptive organizations rely on their workforce—not just their executives—to lead change.

“Change leadership teams that encourage open and honest communication have far better results than those that don’t. It’s the free-flowing sharing of information and being in a dialogue, not a monologue, that is key.

“Gartner’s research shows that a high involvement strategy improves engagement, retention, and ultimately implementation speed by up to 33%. So people are more highly engaged, there’s a greater likelihood they will stay with the organization, and the implementation will happen faster.”

For organizations looking to improve their readiness for a short-term change initiative and a long-term change-ready organization, Hoekstra suggests several different strategies.

“Improving leaders’ change readiness skills can be done a few different ways—through training, consulting, or coaching. In every case, leaders must be educated on people’s predictable stages of concern and on communication skills for addressing each stage effectively.

“Change works fast when you’ve won over people’s hearts and minds—and the way you do that is through dialogue. Our ongoing response to COVID-19 provides leaders with an opportunity to keep trust and engagement high by using a high involvement approach.

“The battle hasn’t been won yet. As people come back to the office, there’ll be many questions and concerns as we step into our new normal. It will be critical for leaders to be prepared to address those concerns and lead their organizations forward.”

Author: David Witt
About the author:

David Witt

David Witt is a Program Director for The Ken Blanchard Companies. He is an award-winning researcher and host of the companies’ monthly webinar series. David has also authored or coauthored articles in Fast CompanyHuman Resource Development ReviewChief Learning Officer and US Business Review.

Leadership: How to demonstrate calm and optimism in a crisis

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Executive Coaching, Leadership / Ledarskap on May 26th, 2020 by admin
Six practices can help leaders build their self-awareness and guide their organizations through the challenges ahead.

When the path ahead is uncertain, people turn to leaders to help them gain clarity and a grounded hope for a better future. They want someone with a positive vision, who is confident about tackling the problems we all face yet courageous enough to confront uncomfortable truths and admit what they do not know.

What’s more, people seek community and safety. Business leaders can underestimate how much their employees look to them for information. To address these needs, leaders should act with deliberate calm and bounded optimism. Those who can visibly demonstrate these qualities help their organizations feel a sense of purpose, giving them hope that they can face the challenges ahead.

But that is hard to do in a crisis, since humans are biologically wired to have a stress response (fight, flight, or freeze) when confronted with volatile environments, unpredictable events, and constant stress

We’ve written about how leaders can shift their organizations to a crisis footing, from launching nerve centers to creating networks of teams. Here we focus on leaders themselves, and how they can prepare themselves mentally, physically, and emotionally to respond to the pandemic through the months ahead.

To stay calm and optimistic while under such pressure, leaders should practice what we call integrative awareness: being aware of the changing reality in the outside world and how they are responding emotionally and physically. This intentional practice allows leaders to shift from viewing challenges as roadblocks to seeing them as problems to be solved, and even learned from.

Leading and learning outside your comfort zone

In a crisis, leaders must continuously process large amounts of complex information, contradictory views, and strong emotions. This requires awareness of what happens in the outside world (facts on the ground) and in the inside world (body and mind). Concepts in neuroscience that are closely related to this are “exteroception” (sensitivity to stimuli originating outside of the body) and “interoception” (sensitivity to stimuli originating inside the body). Effectively connecting situational awareness with self-awareness, our outer world with our inner, is what we call integrative awareness.

In a crisis of uncertainty, this process helps leaders avoid overreacting to challenges or jumping to conclusions just to stop feeling uncomfortable. Developing integrative awareness helps leaders recognize these stress responses as opportunities to pause and reflect before acting, giving them the tools to lead with deliberate calm and bounded optimism. When they do that, instinctive biological reactions will start working for them and not against them. Not only will this practice lead to increased effectiveness but it is also essential to managing personal health and energy over a longer period of time. (Jump to the six practices here.)

Deliberate calm: how to steer into the storm

In crisis situations, leaders must make a deliberate choice to practice a calm state of mind. Then they can step back from a fraught or high-stakes situation and choose how to respond, rather than reacting instinctively. These folks become comfortable with discomfort and can look at adversity through a new lens. A leader who is deliberately calm realizes that fear, channeled from uncomfortable facts or emotions, offers potentially valuable information and so doesn’t get unhinged by it. Reframing a threat as an opportunity for learning and innovation turns an uncertain situation into one of hope and possibility. Stress can be good if you harness and frame it constructively ; it keeps energy levels high and positive even in a crisis environment.

We have seen many examples of entrepreneurial and innovative responses to the coronavirus. These run the gamut from local sports clubs that started delivering meals and universities that digitalized their courses to medical innovations related to ventilators and artificial-intelligence-enabled social services for the unemployed.

Compassion and acceptance for self and others is an essential ingredient for leaders who want to be deliberately calm. It is only human to react impulsively to stressful events. And we may regret this and feel ashamed about it. In these moments it is important for leaders to emphasize self-care and self-compassion. We need to remind ourselves that we cannot change the past, but we can change how we perceive it and how we look to the future. Self-care goes beyond making sure to have a good regimen of sleep, eating, and exercise. It is also about letting up on the self-criticism or perfectionism, to be able to connect with core intentions and purpose. Practicing this yourself also enhances your capacity to be empathetic with others.

Being deliberately calm can have a multiplier effect on communities. How humans are “wired” to share emotional cues has been researched extensively. Leaders’ emotions have a big impact on an organization: when a leader is impatient, fearful, or frustrated, people begin to feel the same way, and their feelings of safety diminish. On the other hand, when a leader is hopeful and calm, the group can face challenges more creatively.

After attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March 2019 killed more than 50 people, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern earned praise for leading her country’s response to the worst mass murder in its modern history with deliberate calm and compassion. She has exhibited the same leadership attributes in the current crisis: “I refuse to believe that you cannot be both compassionate and strong,” she has said.

Bounded optimism: How to mix confidence and hope with realism

In a crisis, people want leaders to fix things fast. However, in a complex situation like the coronavirus pandemic, familiar answers might not work and could even be counterproductive. Early on, leaders can lose credibility by displaying excessive confidence or by providing simple answers to difficult problems in spite of obviously difficult conditions. It is essential to project confidence that the organization will find its way through the crisis but also show that you recognize its severity. This is authentic confidence —“cheerfulness in the face of adversity,” as the British Royal Marines put it. No one wants to follow a pessimist, but they don’t want to follow a blind optimist either.

Optimism that springs from authentic values and trust in people’s capabilities can be the source of energy for everyone in the organization to move forward. By contrast, optimism without meaning or grounding may lead to disappointment and defeat.

Leaders with bounded optimism practice what we call “meaning making.” Meaning helps everyone remember that difficult times and long hours of work serve a purpose. Think of all those healthcare workers focusing on their patients even at great risk to themselves. Meaning builds confidence, efficacy, and endurance but can also serve as a balm if the outcome is not what was hoped for, because the striving in and of itself was honorable.

The crisis response by Mark Rutte, prime minister of the Netherlands, has won praise for being optimistic yet bounded by realism. In an address in mid-March, he told the Dutch that “My message to you this evening is not an easy one to hear. The reality is that coronavirus is with us and will remain among us for the time being. There is no easy or quick way out of this very difficult situation.” He outlined steps the country would have to take, before closing with this appeal: “With all the uncertainties out there, one thing is absolutely clear: the challenge we face is enormous, and all 17 million of us will have to work together to overcome it. Together we will get through this difficult period. Take care of each other. I’m counting on you.”

In times of crisis, a leader’s role in creating meaning only grows. Leaders should remember that they are always visible, even if they are not seen in person, and that their authentic role modeling of the organization’s purpose is essential.

Leaders with bounded optimism leverage meaning and personal stories to build connections. In this crisis, when many of us are isolated at home, distress is increasing. As human beings we need to connect and engage with others in a positive way to stay mentally and physically healthy. Employees want to hear a leader’s vision for how to respond to the crisis, and they also want to connect at a personal level. Video-enabled “town halls” offer a perfect opportunity for leaders to convey what’s on their mind to the broader organization and find out what is keeping everyone awake at night.

Putting integrative awareness into practice

As human beings, we can practice integrative awareness before, in, and after the moment. Beforehand, we can visualize the expected external event and our potential internal response. After the event, we can reflect and process the experience, let go of stress, and gain insight. In the moment, we can observe ourselves while having the experience and regulate our behavior at the same time.

Captain Chesley Sullenberger brought the process of integrative awareness alive when he landed his commercial plane in the Hudson River in 2009. After a bird strike cut both engines of his commercial flight soon after takeoff, Captain Sullenberger demonstrated the ability to stay calm while facing fear. Instead of returning to the airport as air traffic controllers were advising, he paused and assessed that he couldn’t make it, landing instead in the river and saving the lives of all on board. The balancing of emotions with a rational and deliberate thought process is something scientists call metacognition.

By practicing internal awareness on two levels (having the experience and observing it at the same time), you can catch early signals of distress, doubt, or fear without acting out a stress response. This is especially critical in times of crisis. While we can never be purely objective, we can try to reach that state as much as possible. Without objective awareness, signals of distress can trigger “survival” behavior, and we lose the ability to pause, reflect, and decide. For a leader during crisis, this survival state can present a huge risk, and in the case of Captain Sullenberger, it would have been fatal.

In a crisis, some leaders react to complex problems with polarizing opinions, quick fixes, false promises, or overly simplistic answers, often combined with a command-and-control leadership style. They lose their ability to be in dialogue, to continuously adapt, and to look for novel solutions. In a situation where their experience falls short, but without the ability to practice integrative awareness, they may be guided by their fear and resort to habitual responses, often unconsciously biased, to unfamiliar problems.

Another risk of not being aware of our internal world is found in “sacrifice syndrome”: leaders who face constant pressure do not find time to take care of themselves, leading to reduced effectiveness and exhaustion.

The Dutch minister for medical care, Bruno Bruins, showed this danger when he collapsed in Parliament in mid-March during a debate on the coronavirus. Bruins said he was suffering from exhaustion after weeks of nonstop crisis management, and later decided to quit his post.


Six steps for leaders

Here are six practices that leaders can follow to develop their integrative awareness. While they may seem straightforward and commonsensical, too often leaders don’t follow them, thinking they’ll worry about themselves after the crisis has passed. That won’t work in the current context.

1. Adapt your personal operating model

Your priorities, your roles, your time, and your energy are all elements of the way you operate on a daily basis. Create an operating model that can act as your compass, especially in a crisis that is expected to last for some time. As the coronavirus emerged as a threat, we saw that many leaders went into overdrive, working around the clock to respond effectively. It was only after some time had passed that most started to build more of a structure into their lives.

Ask yourself: How does your personal operating model align with the changes in your work life right now? What does this mean for how you operate with your direct leadership team? What does this mean for how you engage with your family? What are your “non-negotiables” in this model (for example, sufficient sleep, regular exercise, meditation practice, and healthy food)?

2. Set your intention

Take a few minutes at the start of the day to go through your agenda, identify high-stakes topics, and set an intention for what you want to accomplish and how you want the experience to unfold. Many people do this as a visualization exercise, like a Formula One driver imagining driving the circuit before a race. This enables you to predict “emotional hot spots” and provides a bulwark against reactive thinking. What challenges, curveballs or brutal facts might you have to face, and what possible opportunities can you expect? How do you intend to stay focused on what matters most? How do you intend to react emotionally? What are your non-negotiables and where can you give ground? Also reflect on the outcomes and experiences for others. How will your actions affect other people?

3. Regulate your reactions

While in a stressful situation during the day, observe your emotions so you can recognize the stress response, taking a pause to assess the situation and engage your “rational mind” before choosing how to respond.

Let’s say you are asked a question on a town-hall videoconference about a matter you had not prepared for. What do you do when fear takes over and your nervous system starts to react? The most natural (and counterproductive) reaction is to try to avoid the issue. But even if you pause very briefly to take in the atmosphere, you can respond effectively.

One leader recounted a situation in which she was passionately telling her top team where they needed to go but was met with confusion and resistance. Her immediate reaction was to explain again in a louder voice. Becoming aware of her irritation and shortness of breath, she took a long pause then told her team, “OK, I feel a bit desperate here—I think I know where to go but it’s clear I am not effective. I need your help.” Only then did the group begin to think through the problem with her.

Another executive told us about a helpful defusion technique he uses. If he is in a meeting and checks his phone to find negative voicemails or emails he can’t attend to right then, he tends to become distracted and anxious. So he visualizes a parking lot (or a cupboard, or balloons in the air). Each incoming message goes into one of the parking spaces or shelves or balloons. He imagines acknowledging the messages with a plan to address them later. That way he can focus on the meeting and avoid experiencing mental and physical stress in the moment. He then returns to each topic, addressing them one by one. At that point, some urgent matters have already solved themselves, and others can be calmly addressed.

4. Practice reflection

Reflection is a way to process what happened during the day and to create space to listen to your inner world (mind and body). For example, analogous to a practice in the military called “contemplation,” you can reflect daily about critical situations. What moments were difficult and why, how did you feel, and why did you respond the way you did? Reflection helps you with the big picture and your own reactive behavior and its drivers. It’s also helpful to ask trusted colleagues to give you feedback about critical moments where you had to respond under pressure. What are your blind spots and how can you address them the next time? People have many ways to reflect. Some use meditation, some reflect while running or walking the dog. The important thing is that you make it a regular planned practice.

5. Reframe your perspective

When we’re tired from stress, we tend to see negative messages and threats more readily than opportunities and positive messages. Keeping a balance and staying realistic is not easy. Knowing this, is step one. Handling these situations effectively, is step two. When facing a difficult situation, try to redirect away from the negative explanation and toward an exploration of other possibilities that could be true. Viewing the issue through different possibilities and scenarios—from the most positive to the most negative—can help in planning responses later.

When detailed scenario planning is not an option, choose to take a flexible perspective: this is integrative awareness in action. When faced with a difficult situation, ask yourself: Am I jumping to conclusions too fast? What else can be true at this moment? What is important to me and my team right now? With the information on the table now, make a conscious decision about the best way to move toward what matters most. Build time to revisit decisions regularly, with an open, curious, and learning mindset, building on fresh information coming in and at different stages in the crisis.

6. Manage your energy

One of the most difficult things to do in times of crisis is to balance work needs with your own physical well-being. In a crisis atmosphere, you will need recovery time, or at some point something will give—performance or, worse, health. Top athletes know this, and they make sure they build in sufficient time for recovery when they train for top performance. Apart from recovery time, which may be different for everyone, micro practices that are in support of healthy recovery can include meditation, breathing exercises, cardio sports activities, and even power naps.


Livet efter coronan …

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Digitalisering / Internet, Leadership / Ledarskap on May 13th, 2020 by admin

Hur blir livet efter coronan?

Många ställer sig idag den frågan. Tillåt mig på detta tema ett par personliga spaningar:

Affärsresandet blir aldrig som förr
I april reste 98% färre resenärer från Swedavias 10 flygplatser än motsvarande period förra året.
Jag, med så många andra, börjar ifrågasätta vårt tidigare resande. Tänk så många gångar jag (du?) tagit flyget till t.ex. Landvetter, Sturup, London eller Munchen för ett möte. Ofta har vi inte ens lämnat flygplatsen utan genomfört våra möten i en av alla dessa konferensrum som numera finns på alla världens flygplatser.

Coronatiden (ännu bara ett par månader) har snabbt tvingat oss till att hantera våra möten digitalt. Och se vad som hänt! Vips fungerar det alldeles utmärkt!

Visst, inte blir det riktigt lika bra som när vi träffas rent fysiskt. Men, handen på hjärtat, håll med om att det fungerar ”good enough”? Och det speciellt om vi tar följande i beaktande:
– Tidsvinsten (faktisk restid inklusive transporter till och från flyget). För att inte tala om all tid
för logistiken på flygplatsen (in-checkning, security …). Boring!
– Klimateffekterna

Sedan blir det ju knepigare ju fler som skall delta i det digitala mötet. Men väg återigen de samlade tidsvinsterna samt den reducerade klimatpåverkan och ”good enough” gör sig påmind.

Jag såg att en digital framtidsforskare uppskattade att den digitala utveckling som sker under ”coronatiden” med största säkerhet skulle ha tagit oss 6-10 år utan de påtvingade coronaeffekterna.


Ökad effektivitet  o c h  mer egen tid

En av mina uppdragsgivare samlade förra veckan företagsledningen för att diskutera hur man skall hantera synen på ”distansarbete” efter corona. ”Vi har redan märkt hur väl många anpassat sig till arbete (hel eller delvis) hemifrån. Och de positiva effekter det skapat. Vi ser det som helt orealistiskt att vi kommer tillbaka till det ”normala kontorsarbetet” igen. Lika bra att börja anpassningen redan nu”.

Deras diskussion bygger i stort på följande:
– 45% av stockholmarna anger att man jobbar heltid hemifrån i dessa tider. Lägger man till de
personer som också säger att de jobbar 50 procent eller mer hemifrån är den siffran hela 65
– Forskning tyder på att man vid hemarbete klarar av 8 timmars kontoret normalt kontorsarbete      på endast 4-5 timmar! Dock arbetar de flesta minst sina 8 timmar, även på hemkontoret. Resultatet? Ökad effektivitet och produktivitet!
Exempelvis anger nästan var tredje person inom sektorn bank och finans (28 procent) att de jobbar mer än tidigare.
– Många har idag långa och tidskrävande transporter till och från jobbet.
En chef berättade att han  normalt sett har 90 minuters restid till och från jobbet varje dag. Den tiden spar han nu in. ”Jag kan nu logga ut från datorn och en minut senare spela boll med
mina två söner. Fantastiskt! I alla fall ett par tre dagar i veckan. För jag tror (ännu) inte på att helt flytta hem kontoret”.
Det är för övrigt en uppfattning som inte delas av Twitters VD Jack Dorsey som häromdagen berättade att en del av företagets anställda aldrig kommer att gå tillbaka till kontoret utan istället arbeta hemifrån.

Och så kärnfrågan – har coronakrisen bidragit till en digital mognad som gör att fler kommer att
kunna, och vilja,  jobba hemifrån även när pandemin lagt sig? Det är i alla fall 40 procent som säger att de kommer att jobba mer på distans även i framtiden.

Det här var bara ett par av mina högst personliga spaningar vad gäller tiden efter coronan.
Rätt eller fel? Det kommer framtiden att utvisa.
Med vad som, oavsett utfall, kommer att visa sig vara rätt är att du som ledare redan nu måste öka din lyhördhet för hur medarbetarna ser på sin framtida arbets- och livssituation och hur ni skall skapa förutsättningar för högsta möjliga produktivitet och effektivitet. Det kommer att behövas!
Och vilka förändrade krav kommer detta att ställa på ditt ledarskap? För det kommer att krävas!


About the mentor role at MSc Mentor Program, Stockholm School of Eonomics

Posted in Aktuellt, Executive Coaching, Leadership / Ledarskap on April 29th, 2020 by admin

Johan Mathson, founder at ARC Executive Advisory

“A program like the MSc Mentor Program is stimulating for everyone in a leadership role, not least in terms of learning what motivates and drives other generations.”

What made you sign up as a mentor in the first place?

I have worked for many years with executive coaching (mentoring with business managers). After having experienced how much it is appreciated, I thought it would be interesting to see how my experience could contribute to a younger target group as well. Of course, it also feels extra fun to have contact with my old school as an SSE alum.

What does mentorship mean to you?

I’ll summarise in a few words:

Interest, ask, listen, understand, empathy, support, challenge, accessible and have fun and laugh.

What is the best part about mentoring a student?

It is to help a young and ambitious student, to the best of my ability, develop towards finding a place in the business world that feels fun and challenging every morning.

Have you developed or improved any personal skills during the program?

As a mentor, one can always develop in the two essential tools: Asking and Listening. Hopefully, I have developed further, especially in these two areas.

In what way do you think the MSc Mentor Program will influence your professional career?

A program like the MSc Mentorshiup Program is stimulating for everyone in a leadership role, not least in terms of learning what motivates and drives other generations.

What advice would you give to future mentors?

I would suggest them to answer two questions first:

– What can you offer and how will you go about making that happen?

– What do you expect for your part of the program? How can you influence it?

Source:, April 2020

Leading with purpose: How marketing and sales leaders can shape the next normal

Posted in Aktuellt, Försäljning / Sales, Leadership / Ledarskap on April 28th, 2020 by admin

Chief marketing and sales officers have a defining role to play in navigating the current crisis—and in steering their companies’ success in the world that emerges from it.

“Without empathy, nothing works.That quote, from José Andrés, a celebrity chef who also founded and runs the nonprofit World Central Kitchen, highlights the reasoning behind the organization’s mission: to feed the world by being the first food responders in devastated areas. In the COVID-19 crisis, he has quickly mobilized field kitchens to provide fresh and nourishing meals to those in need in stricken parts of the world.

As an exemplar of purpose-led leadership, Andrés provides chief marketing and sales officers (CMSOs) as well as growth executives with a reference point for how to lead in the midst of this crisis.

As the pandemic continues to threaten millions of lives around the world, global economic realities are significantly impacting every aspect of our lives, from how we work and communicate, to how and what we buy. In this unprecedented new reality, the massive changes in customer behavior and business outlook have put growth officers and CMSOs on the front lines. To chart a path forward, leaders must simultaneously anchor on what matters most and execute multiple initiatives well. This means, first and foremost, that they must lead with purpose by taking care of their people, their customers, and their communities. At the same time, they must focus on three horizons to shape the way forward: navigate the now, plan for recovery, and lead in the next normal.

The new reality

Lockdowns have led to near collapse in many business sectors, while also creating significant shifts in both customer and consumer behavior.

While we will continue to see major shifts and swings, we believe the following are already important for marketing and sales leaders to understand:
For the full article.

Source:, April 2020

Connecting with customers in times of crisis

Posted in Aktuellt, Customer care / Kundvård, Försäljning / Sales, Leadership / Ledarskap, Strategy implementation / Strategiimplementering on April 16th, 2020 by admin

During the COVID-19 pandemic, companies that lead with empathy and genuinely address customer needs can strengthen relationships.

The COVID-19 global humanitarian and economic crisis has forced individuals and companies to rapidly change how they live and work. Many elements of business and life are being challenged; in some cases, the next normal may look very different as new ways of working are carried over into the future. Companies are doing their best to manage through this pandemic—from ensuring an effective crisis response, to managing supply-chain disruptions, to safeguarding the well-being of their employees by adjusting daily working practices.

Customer experience takes on a new meaning against this backdrop. Executives are typically approaching customer experience by creating seamless, convenient and engaging customer journeys; however, the needs of customers at the moment have shifted dramatically towards more essential concerns. A recent McKinsey survey of US consumers found that 64 percent of respondents have felt depressed, anxious, or both over the past several weeks, and 39 percent stated that they would be unable to pay their bills after one month of unemployment.

Leading organizations are reorienting their customer-experience efforts to meet their customers’ primary needs, such as safety, security, and everyday convenience. These actions will inevitably speak louder than words in a world where companies are increasingly advertising a message of “we are here for you.” By consciously providing empathy and care during this crisis, companies can build a foundation of goodwill and long-lasting emotional connections with the communities they serve.

Seven actions to demonstrate empathy for customers

Over the past few months, companies have had to quickly adjust to COVID-19. The first step for many organizations was to stabilize operations and safeguard their own employees. From this position, companies can then find genuine, creative ways to show empathy and emotionally connect with their customers. Many have already begun to take seven actions related to individual safety, security and stability, convenience and ease of use, and emotional bonds and trust.

1. Minimize risk by reducing physical interaction

Society’s first responsibility during a pandemic of this scale is eliminating opportunities to spread the virus, especially among the most at-risk populations. Companies have been minimizing the risk of contagion when fulfilling essential tasks, particularly when they involve vulnerable groups.

Grocery retailers have responded by taking extra precautions, such as extending opening hours for the elderly and healthcare workers as well as free home-delivery for customers more than 65 years old. Many are limiting the number of people who can be inside the store at once and putting physical-distance stickers on the floor to aid compliance. E-commerce and online food-delivery companies around the world are offering new contactless delivery options to eliminate direct physical contact between customers and delivery drivers. Companies offering services that require customers to be in close proximity, such as airlines, are taking measures to reduce risk and ensure the health and safety of both their customers and employees. Of course, this approach requires more stringent standards for cleaning as well as new work processes, such as suspending drink refills or recycling to avoid touching passenger-handled items.

2. Actively contribute to safety by innovating the product portfolio

Companies should ask themselves two critical questions: Do we have a product the world needs right now? Or can we rapidly adapt our product portfolio to provide goods that are urgently needed? In pursuing this approach, companies can use their strengths to provide essential products, even if those goods are outside of their current product offering. For example, some distilleries are using their ethanol supplies to provide materials for hand sanitizers through partnerships with refineries.

Companies are also stepping up to meet the demand for more medical equipment and personal protective equipment. Apparel manufacturers are responding to a drop in sales by producing thousands of urgently needed face masks instead. Some automotive companies are shifting production to manufacture ventilators, for example, General Motors is partnering with a US-based medical device company to produce respiratory care products.

Companies beyond manufacturing are still able to innovate their product portfolio to contribute to safety initiatives. Rideshare companies are looking to use their network of drivers to transport medicine and basic goods, rather than passengers. This effort could provide lifesaving drugs to individuals who are not able to go out to purchase them because of the quarantine or other conditions.

In all of these cases, company leaders have demonstrated their commitment to customers and society. At the same time, they are creating alternatives so they can continue providing meaningful work for their employees despite substantial demand reductions in their core business.

3. Provide pragmatic help to customers in financial distress

Once customers have secured their personal safety, their next concern is often financial. As companies are forced to decrease operations for an uncertain time period, individuals and millions of small business owners face massive income and liquidity issues.

Providing flexible solutions when dealing with financial challenges is now both a responsibility and a huge trust driver for companies. Financial institutions are not penalizing customers who cannot meet payment obligations for March. Telcos are not terminating service or enforcing late-payment fees for customers experiencing hardship for an extra 60 days. And energy companies are not shutting off power for nonpayment; in some cases, they are even reconnecting customers whose service had been turned off prior to the crisis.

In addition, companies are seeking to alleviate unexpected sources of financial stress as events unfold. Travel companies, including most major airlines, are waiving cancellation fees. Families who formerly relied on school lunches to feed their children can benefit from efforts such as those introduced by Burger King, which provides two free kids meals to Americans who make any purchase through the Burger King app.

4. Bring joy and support the emotional needs of customers ‘trapped at home’

Many people are forced to stay at home, and experience all the concerns that come along with having to do so. Companies are acting to make homelife more enjoyable and to also ensure the well-being of their customers.

Families have to entertain their children at home for weeks to come, making access to online content a truly fundamental need. Telcos are providing free unlimited data for the next 60 days to all mobile customers with data plans. Entertainment companies have released content ahead of schedule: the Walt Disney Company, for example, released the family-friendly blockbuster Frozen 2 on its streaming platform, Disney+, three months earlier than planned. New York’s Metropolitan Opera offered free digital shows to entertain virtual audiences, while Google Arts & Culture has paired with museums around the world to curate virtual tours.

Other companies are checking in with their customers to help relieve stress. Meditation and mindfulness providers, such as the Headspace app, will be providing free subscriptions to healthcare professionals and unlocking free content for consumers. Multiple organizations have launched online services that include food delivery and recipes, shared rides, online courses, and traditional financial services.

5. Actively shift customers to online channels

With so many directives around the world to remain at home, companies that previously relied on physical operations have had to direct customers to online offerings.

As an example, since many gyms have been directed to close all physical facilities, they are now offering hundreds of free online home workout courses to all members. Companies offering virtual capabilities, as with Cisco’s Webex, are assisting schools and universities as they transition to remote learning by offering free tools for teachers, parents, and students to support the development of online-learning plans. Italian banks are encouraging the use of digital channels while providing tutorials for online banking. Medical providers are providing care through digital services, such as telemedicine, with health insurers supporting the initiative by offering zero copays.

Companies without online services can find ways to establish and scale online offerings with substantial demand from customers as their needs increasingly turn digital. This shift to online and digital channels has the potential to dramatically increase online traffic post-recovery.

6. Stay reachable and treat customers with care in personal interactions

With physical channels such as bank branches and nongrocery retail stores closed, many customers are turning to other channels for questions and requests that require personal attention and care.

Service companies in telcos and banking are currently experiencing increased inbound call volumes in their contact centers while at the same time having to shift their customer-service centers to remote-working arrangements. For example, a leading European telco equipped 10,000 call-center agents with laptops and tool infrastructure within a week, enabling them to take calls from their homes. Companies that provide customers with additional guidance and support can maintain communication and engagement. Other companies have enhanced options for seeking information digitally; Erdos Group launched a WeChat program in China to offer virtual product consultations. Airlines facing traveler cancellations or trip changes are urging customers whose travel is not within 72 hours to address their needs through the company’s website.

While most companies must address reachability, some companies, such as those in the medical industry, face callers who have significantly different types of questions than they did prior to the pandemic. Another key priority is proactively responding to this shift by training call-center agents to effectively manage these new questions. Cigna has established a 24/7 customer-resource center specifically to help customers with claims related to the novel coronavirus. Companies should reevaluate how to prepare their agents to address these emerging needs.

7. Demonstrate care for the community through company values

Companies can stay true to their vision while showing that they genuinely care about their customers. Actions taken during crises can help build trust and reinforce brand values (see sidebar, “Forming a purpose-driven bond with customers”).

One of the most talked-about company initiatives in Germany came from McDonald’s and ALDI. The two companies initiated a staff sharing plan so that interested McDonald’s workers from temporarily closed branches can redeploy at ALDI stores to ensure that the retailer can meet the currently increased customer demand. Supporting local communities while linking these efforts back to company values is exemplified by companies delivering free, fresh meals to medical workers in the cities they serve. Similarly, sustainable-footwear company Allbirds is giving free shoes to healthcare workers, and pharmacies and drugstores are also gearing up to donate space in their parking lots for medical testing.

The Alibaba Foundation has donated medical supplies to 14 countries in Asia and the United States and will also be publishing a digital handbook to share learnings from the COVID-19 experience in China. Tableau Software has developed a free data resource hub using case data compiled by leading educational and government research organizations to help stakeholders see and understand coronavirus data in near-real time. LinkedIn, through employee referrals, is providing free access to its premium features for a designated period of time to help employees at small businesses cope with the economic downturn.

Public service announcements and other on-brand communication can be used to send messages of unity: for example, Coca-Cola’s marketing has been reminding customers that “staying apart is the best way to stay united.”

All these efforts show a clear care for customers and an obligation to serve on the part of companies, bringing local or international communities together with new knowledge and resources. Every action taken by a company should reinforce what customers already know—that companies care and are willing to invest in helping their community.

Forging lasting connections with customers

During times of crisis, leading companies are pivoting from marketing to helping and from fulfilling customer desires to meeting customer needs. Socially conscious organizations across sectors and geographies are finding ways to get involved and support their customers and communities.

The current COVID-19 outbreak is a global crisis and an opportunity for leaders to support their customers and communities. Leading in a caring, empathetic manner during these difficult times has the potential to create real connections that will outlive the social and economic impacts of the pandemic. And large companies should consider it a duty to serve the communities in which they do business.

Source:, 16 April 2020
About the authors:
Fabricio Dore is an associate partner in McKinsey’s São Paulo office, Oliver Ehrlich is a partner in the Dusseldorf office, David Malfara is a specialist in the Miami office, and Kelly Ungerman is a senior partner in the Dallas office.

12 New Habits for Leading in a Virtual Environment

Posted in Aktuellt, Leadership / Ledarskap on April 14th, 2020 by admin

Leading virtually requires a leader to use the same good management skills they would use in a face-to-face environment. But some managers get away with providing mediocre leadership in face-to-face situations because they lean on their personal relationships with employees, says John Hester, co-creator of The Ken Blanchard Companies’ new Leading Virtually program.

Because virtual leaders don’t have opportunities for those incidental hallway conversations that can occur in face-to-face work environments, they tend to have fewer interactions with direct reports. “This means each interaction takes on more significance,” says Hester. “People who manage from a distance often don’t have the safety net that personal relationships or opportunities for informal communication can provide. Thus, normal mistakes managers make have a significantly greater impact in the virtual work environment.

“Consider a poorly run meeting. When held face-to-face, it is frustrating and annoying. But a poorly run conference call is even worse, because attendees feel less of an obligation to pay attention. People begin multitasking and the group immediately loses synergy.

“Leading virtually requires a whole new mindset. How do I maintain connection? How do I foster trust? How do I provide feedback? Even something as basic as How do I know they’re working? requires a new strategy.”

To help new virtual leaders get off to a fast start, Hester suggests they focus on three key practice areas: being attentive and mindful, fostering community, and accelerating performance and development.

Practice One: Be Attentive and Mindful

Leaders need to be attentive and mindful in their conversations with team members. That’s important face-to-face, but it’s absolutely essential in a virtual work environment. Attentiveness means knowing the goals, motivations, needs, and experiences of team members and recognizing when changes occur. Because working effectively in a virtual environment requires a high level of independence, leaders must consistently communicate their desire to connect personally with team members.

Be present. “We spend so much time multitasking in the remote environment. But what’s the impact when we’re not totally present with somebody on the phone or in a Zoom meeting? Leaders need to practice being more present in meetings and calls and help others be more present as well.”
Pay attention to individual differences. “This begins with knowing what motivates each person and what approach to use in a virtual work setting. It also means getting to know people’s individual work preferences. How do they like to communicate? When do they have the most energy?”
Ask for feedback. “One thing our research uncovered is that virtual leaders generally don’t ask their team members for feedback. In a face-to-face one-on-one meeting, nonverbal feedback allows each person to adjust. But in a virtual setting, the leader has to be more deliberate and ask for it.”
Lead with intention. “This is about the leader taking a minute to think before they act. What energy do I want to bring to this meeting, this interaction, this phone call? What sentiment do I want the person to feel afterward? How much structure and support do I want to provide for them? And once I have identified my intentions, How do I do my best to make my intentions come to fruition?”

Practice Two: Foster Community

Most leaders are unaware of how much they connect to an organization and a team by being onsite. Face-to-face, leaders pick up cultural cues and norms by observing behavior, dress, language, and communication patterns. Effective virtual leaders work diligently to connect team members to the larger organization by actively facilitating collaboration, creating the team culture, and helping virtual workers unite to build community spirit.

Build trust. “This is where community starts. It’s crucial for a leader to be reliable and responsive in a remote environment. But each leader must to take the time to define it. This means setting up clear norms or ways of working so that people know what to expect if they send the leader an instant message versus an email. In a virtual environment, it’s easy to be out of sight, out of mind.”
Provide technology support. “Leaders need to make sure people have the tools and technology they need. That’s a big issue right now. I was talking with one client about an upcoming pilot training session of this program and I asked, ‘What kind of equipment are people going to have for this training?’ A lot of people just had their laptops but didn’t have a separate monitor. That’s not optimal for training or for working from home. Organizations should show people they care by providing them with the equipment and support they need.”
Invest in connection. “One of the challenges with remote work is that people can start feeling like a piece of machinery being used to get the work done. Emails and meetings are purely transactional. Leaders need to dedicate time to talk—just catch up, check in, and stay connected. Whether it’s at the beginning of a one-on-one or a team meeting, they should use the first five minutes to connect with people, asking about how they are doing and what they’re up to.”
Celebrate success. “This is another aspect of work life that often gets forgotten in the virtual world. We finish one project and just go on to the next one. Or somebody has a significant event in their life and we don’t acknowledge it. Celebrating is all about recognizing individual and team contribution. Look for ways to do that in the virtual world. One of my favorites with large global teams is knowing what their holidays are. We ask team members to take their laptop and go around their house showing us anything they’ve done for the holiday. It’s a great way to create other cultures and communities.”

Practice Three: Accelerate Performance and Development

It’s easy to lose track of the development needs of people who work virtually. Virtual leaders have to stay focused on team members’ needs for direction and support in the short term as well as career and personal goals in the long term. This increases satisfaction, builds loyalty, and creates a more valuable employee.

Focus on output. “First, new virtual managers shouldn’t worry about what people are doing every minute. Instead, they need to be clear on what they want people to achieve and focus there. If goals are met, the leader shouldn’t be concerned about how and when people are doing their work. Many people work in less than ideal environments at home with a lot of competing priorities that can result in odd working hours.”
Encourage self-reliance. “Building self-reliance means setting clear goals and then checking in on a regular basis to see what’s needed in terms of direction and support. We recommend using coaching questions. We’ve even included a virtual coaching guide in the program.”
Facilitate networking. “There are two reasons why we specifically call out networking as a desired habit: One, it creates connection for people, and two, it means leaders don’t have to do all the coaching themselves—and they aren’t going to be expected to be the expert all the time. The goal is to help team members create relationships with others they can go to for help.”
Assist with career development. “If a leader is not having career development discussions with their remote employee, somebody else will. The leader should be talking to their direct reports about their career, what areas they want to develop, and what kind of help they need.”
In many ways, good virtual leadership is the same as good face-to-face leadership, says Hester. “It’s about doing all of the important things leaders need to do, but in a different medium and environment. The research shows that anything leaders do in a face-to-face environment, they need to do more of, and better, in a virtual environment.

Source:, 8 April 2020
By: Randy Conley

Så leder du i kris – och så kan mål dämpa oro hos medarbetare

Posted in Aktuellt, Leadership / Ledarskap on April 6th, 2020 by admin

Den situation som följt av smittspridningen ställer företagsledare inför stora utmaningar.
DN har talat med tre experter som tipsar om hur man som ledare ska agera i kris och hur medarbetare reagerar i pressade situationer.

Under tsunamikatastrofen år 2004 var Fritidsresors Lottie Knutson flitigt närvarande i tv-rutan. Hon var då företagets informationsdirektör och har hyllats för sin hantering av situationen. I kristider ökar kraven på närvaro och tydlighet, säger hon.

– Det är superviktigt att ledarna håller sig synliga under svåra tider. Särskilt i svåra tider, säger Lottie Knutson.

Den 1 april hade 26.500 personer inom besöksnäringen blivit av med jobbet eller varslats, enligt branschorganisationen Visita. Lottie Knutson beskriver situationen som ”nattsvart”. Ledare som nu tvingas fatta svåra beslut kommer inte att bli omtyckta, oavsett hur budskapet framförs, enligt Lottie Knutson.

– Det är sällan man blir populär när man tvingas säga upp personal. Det här är en katastrof för massor av individer och deras verksamheter. Hur du än gör kommer folk tycka att du gör fel. Det finns inga bra sätt att framföra fruktansvärda budskap.

”Det finns inga bra sätt att framföra fruktansvärda budskap”, säger Lottie Knutson som blev Fritidsresors ansikte utåt under tsunamikatastrofen.
”Det finns inga bra sätt att framföra fruktansvärda budskap”, säger Lottie Knutson som blev Fritidsresors ansikte utåt under tsunamikatastrofen. Foto: Anders G Warne

I turbulenta tider med mycket oro är det särskilt viktigt för ledare att se till att medarbetare arbetar mot tydliga mål, enligt stress- och arbetsmiljöforskaren Dan Hasson.

– Vi är byggda för att fokusera på hot och när vi mår dåligt blir vi ofta självfokuserade. När vi arbetar mot mål börjar vi leta efter lösningar i stället för att fokusera på problem.

Ett mål ska vara högt ställt, positivt formulerat och det ska finnas en strategi för hur det ska uppnås. Det ska också finnas ett engagemang och förändringsvilja hos chef och medarbetare, säger Dan Hasson.

För att se till att det fortfarande finns arbetsglädje kvar trots turbulenta tider är det bra att som chef prata ihop sig med gruppen, säger han. Arbetslivet består av personer från olika generationer och kulturer och det kan finnas olika förväntningar och behov inom en arbetsgrupp på den som är chef.

– Det är en dålig idé att tro sig kunna gissa vad medarbetare och kolleger vill ha och behöver, säger Dan Hasson.

Dan Hasson är stress- och arbetsmiljöforskare. Han har skrivit boken ”Faktastiskt : Rätt strategier för HR och ledare”
Dan Hasson är stress- och arbetsmiljöforskare. Han har skrivit boken ”Faktastiskt : Rätt strategier för HR och ledare”

– Det handlar om att ta reda på vad det finns för behov och förväntningar. Ta fram lösningar tillsammans, fortsätter han.

Pr-konsulten Paul Ronge har lång erfarenhet av att arbeta med krishantering. Han har framför allt ett råd till ledare i kris:

– Tänk mycket mer på medarbetaren än på dig själv. Då är du en stark ledare.

Vid kristider ökar behovet av intern kommunikation, som kan ge trygghet och en känsla av sammanhållning, säger han. Till chefer som ska avskeda personal rekommenderar han att noga tänka igenom hur budskapet ska framföras, gärna med siffror som visar läget för företaget.


Hur skulle jag må om jag skulle åka hem till den jag bor ihop med och berätta att jag inte har jobb om en månad?

– Förklara att det saknas ljusning i sikte och att man är tvungen att göra detta för att företaget ska kunna överleva. Se till att ha en tonalitet som är respektfull mot medarbetare som måste gå.

Han förespråkar rakoch enkel kommunikation.

– Försök inte linda in eller sockra någonting. Och var beredd på att hjälpa till med att skriva goda vitsord, säger han och fortsätter:

– Det viktigaste är inte att visa empati, det är att känna empati. Hur skulle jag må om jag skulle åka hem till den jag bor ihop med och berätta att jag inte har jobb om en månad? fortsätter han.

Paul Ronge har arbetat med medierådgivning och krishantering i över 20 år.
Paul Ronge har arbetat med medierådgivning och krishantering i över 20 år. Foto: Håkan Flank

Medarbetare som reagerar aggressivt ska visas särskild respekt, säger han, eftersom de ofta är i den värsta sitsen.

– Det kan vara människor som måste hem till familjen och säga att de förlorat jobbet på en arbetsmarknad som är mörk överallt i det här läget.

Samtidigt sitter många chefer med huvudet fullt tankar kring hur företaget ska kunna överleva krisen. Då är det särskilt viktigt att hålla isär de två sakerna.

– Fokusera först på de medarbetare som måste gå, lägg sedan allt krut på att fokusera på hur företaget ska överleva, säger Paul Ronge.


Källa:, 6 april 2020
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