Morale = Culture
In a recent podcast, Mike Robbins spoke of the need for leaders to think about employee morale. I think of morale as being another word for culture. Changing culture is one of the most challenging change-management tasks a leader has to tackle. Seemingly overnight, perhaps literally overnight, leaders have had to move workers to remote working cultures.
In my case, I moved a leadership peer group from a culture of building relationships in person, face-to-face, to being fully a virtual group. Several members had to also deal with having their employees move to a remote work environment.
The tactical changes happened reasonably quickly and with relatively little effort. Of course, there was the issue of supply and demand. Even after a year, it is challenging to find PCs, WebCams, and other home office supplies. But the technology issues seem to be under control.
The concern now is around the more challenging changes—helping employees define the limits around work time versus personal time, leaders learning how to manage in a results-only work environment, and assisting employees are increasingly going stir-crazy.
My leadership peer group has been sharing creative ways of helping employees through the maze of work from home challenges. For some, the work-from-home situation is not new. Much of my experience is remote-office and work from home lifestyle. And for the last two decades, I have worked from home, although I spent a great deal of time meeting with people in their offices.
The pandemic has forced many leaders to learn new skills for managing remote or hybrid workforces. Some essential workers with manufacturing operations have to keep a production line running and supervise support staff working remotely. Some production workers believe we ask them to take health risks that others are not having to take. These are significant cultural challenges and require creative solutions.
Business Model Innovation
Some of our group has had to make changes to their business model. Some have decided that the changes are for the better and can be made permanent. A noticeable shift in the business is that office footprint can be smaller as workers “hot-desk” office space and work remotely a significant amount of time.
I am not the only peer group facilitator to move from in-person to remote. Some of my colleagues have formed new peer groups during the pandemic, and their members have never met in person. Many of these new groups will remain virtual groups and save the commute time and expense of providing meeting space and food for all-day meetings.
The CEO’s Job
I have said more than once on this blog that “The CEO’s only job is to manage the corporate culture.” That statement is now three times as important as before. How are your people doing psychologically? How soon will you ask them to come back to the office? Will you design a hybrid workforce business model? How will your stakeholders respond to your cultural and business model changes ?