Building Back Better - people, senior leaders and boards

Originally published in Society Matters magazine

By Deborah Cooper, Partner, Miles Advisory

Originally published in Society Matters magazine

By Deborah Cooper, Partner, Miles Advisory

Leadership, communication and employee welfare are key to running a good business, and never more so than now as firms reassess their people agendas in the shadow of a pandemic.

The Coronavirus has had, and is still having, an unprecedented impact on business operations.  It has changed the way we think and the way work is done, from how we meet to how we manage.

It has forced the people priorities – including employee engagement and communications – to the top of the Board agenda.  It has driven leaders to plan and deliver change and digital transformation in weeks, where before years would have been acceptable.

Over the past 12 months, we have continuously surveyed over 100 organisations across a variety of sectors.  They shared with us what they have learned and what has changed about what they now believe constitutes great leadership.  Whilst there was a crisis to manage there is an opportunity to review how we can use it to emerge in better shape, thinking and operating differently.

The challenge and opportunity most see now is how to hardwire the best of these ways of thinking differently into the way their organisations behave and operate going forward.  Is this the beginning of a genuinely changed way of leading for many organisations? More human, more equal, more caring?  ”Crisis has brought out the human in us all – trust, empathy, authenticity, vulnerability.”

We concluded that there were three key actions around the people agenda for building societies to embrace and enable them to build back better.

  • Align your blueprint for leadership with the new priorities – Societies can take advantage of the opportunity to embed newer ways of working, but only if the behaviour of their leadership is aligned.  The example set in the ‘tone from the top’ is critical to signpost and trigger wider organisational change.

    It is important to create a shared vision of the mind-set that all in the boardroom and leadership agree to bring to work.  And support this with a clear benchmark of the expectations they agree should be set for their associated behaviours.
  • Capture the leverage from improved and integrated communication – Direct involvement from the CEO and executive committees throughout the crisis forced a focus on the quality of approach to employee communications.  Where this has been done well the level of engagement has risen, employees have understood what needed to happen and to have been supportive of what has been asked of them.

    The Increased focus on employee involvement coming out of the pandemic will especially need this improved (honest, real-time, personalised) approach to communications to continue to be effective.
  • Revise your “people deal” to be relevant for a changed set of expectations – The early priority on employee welfare moved quickly from an initial focus on communications to the introduction and re-energisation of more tangible employee programmes such as flexible working and mental health.  These have become an important part of the employee value proposition for many organisations as they have been written into policy and programme.

Despite the economic effects of the pandemic, finding diverse talent with the right skills and the right values or ‘fit’ will likely be even harder in the future.  The crisis has made many skills shortages even more acute as the trend towards e-commerce has accelerated the dependency on acquiring large amounts of digital, data and software talent.  Diversity and inclusion was high on the agenda previously but now is underlined and in capital letters ….. A proactive, action orientated approach is a must.

Next steps

For more information please contact Deborah Cooper, Partner, deborah.cooper@miles-advisory.com 07464 675444