Coming Back Better - Week 2 - Ensure resilience-building and business continuity are given sufficient attention

Posted on June 23, 2020 at 09:28 AM


Questions that we should be considering within our senior leadership teams now include “How can we come back and retain the resilience we have had to show in the last few months? How do we build a more resilient organisation generally? What have we learned from this crisis and how do we prepare better for the next one?”

We’ve blogged recently about succession planning, and how this is just as important in current times and in the future as it’s ever been. It seems that many leaders and HR departments have been overly focused in the past on the urgent but not the important, and that they’ve not given enough attention to redeployment, agile-related skills, succession planning. These things are now more important than ever: a view supported by Kevin Martin at the Institute for Corporate Productivity, writing in a June article in the Financial Times. Martin offers insights into Talent Management priorities for the post-pandemic world, based on the i4cp’s research into how leading organisations are responding. This highlights the need for “discoverability”; that organisations need accurate, detailed and holistic data about their employees’ skills, knowledge and experience.

Succession planning software, such as Head Light’s Talent Successor, can provide decision-makers with a current, in-depth picture of the talent they have across the organisation and enable greater mobility, more agile deployment of people and the identification of new or emerging skills requirements.

HR and leaders need to look at how potential for progression is determined, how people are identified as successors and how they are developed and moved up in the organisation, and challenge their processes to ensure they provide equal access to all groups. And to our earlier point about ensuring that the current situation does not lead to a gap in the female talent pipeline, ensure in particular that your succession planning does not disenfranchise those with caring responsibilities or alternative work patterns. We need to develop a better understanding of critical roles and paths and – as we highlighted in our last blog – think more broadly about what we mean by “critical”.

Talking to the CFO of a challenger bank, he said that this had highlighted the importance and value of the security staff, who have been agile and proactive (as well as putting themselves at risk by being the only people travelling to and from the office) in turning their hands to more of a caretaker and premises management function. Traditionally, those in security jobs would be overlooked by talent management processes (and bonus systems), but this had got them thinking differently about the centrality of this role.

Kevin Martin also endorses “tapping into “trapped value”; finding the “hidden influencers” and possessors of transferable skills and abilities that might be overlooked by traditional, organogram-based succession planning. He also cites now as being a critical time for organisations to leverage partnerships with other businesses, continuing the success that has been shown during the crisis with high profile companies teaming up to fast-track the production of medical equipment and hand sanitiser. He advises companies to look carefully at how they can more effectively collaborate with suppliers and customers, building better relationships which allow for planned rotation of staff or cross-business programmes, to really ensure that we draw on all sources of talent and not just the usual pools. Find out more on our thoughts on this here.

For many business, too late this has highlighted to them the importance of thorough risk, contingency and business continuity planning and how an organisation can find itself ill-equipped and suddenly struggling during lean times. In a previous article we talked about the effective leadership shown by Jason Fried, CEO and founder of tech company Basecamp. Early on in the crisis he sent a number of reassuring communications to his staff about the future of the organisation and the trust and understanding they would get from their leaders. In one he said “I want everyone here to know that Basecamp’s business is solid. Nobody has to worry that their job is at risk. We’ve always run this business conservatively so our margins are wide. We’re in good shape.” There may be an element of good fortune in here, but the founders cite being “big believers in business 101”; simple but sound business principles, sensible financial management practices and minimising waste as being part of their success. They also treat their people extremely well. For those companies that only just survive and emerge on the other side of this, it’s a very good opportunity to take a fresh look at your business’s fitness levels, and how you can be better prepared for the next crisis.

We hope you'll join us next week when we'll be reflecting on how leadership decision making must give greater thought to ‘lower skilled’, frontline and public sector jobs. If you have missed our earlier pieces, you can find them on our blog here.

If you have any questions in the meantime do please get in touch, and pass this along to a colleague so that they can sign up too!

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