Lessons from the 2-year long pandemic
Like many, MRM team members have considered setting New Year’s resolutions for diet, exercise, debt management, getting organized, and giving up pesky habits. Rather than setting resolutions that typically fall off the radar by February, we’re adopting a New Year’s theme.
What is a New Year’s theme? It’s a one- or two-word idea that helps shape day-to-day actions; a concept that will make a significant and positive difference to all areas of your life. On a personal level, a theme could be health, mindfulness, family, or helping others. Implement your theme by starting each week with a decision about how you can weave your theme into your days.
How about a New Year’s theme for your business? In addition to traditional annual forecasts, objectives, and SMART goals, adopting a theme for the year encourages your organization to focus on a unified vision.
In 2022, Measured Results has adopted the theme of Resilience.
Why resilience? Like nearly every other business, we have learned quite a few difficult lessons over the past 2 years. With creativity, we’ve overcome these challenges and look to continue in the New Year. We want to share those lessons with you, so you can increase your resilience in 2022, too.
Lesson One: Downtime Happens
As we continue to battle different variants of the Coronavirus, planning for team health absences can put a strain on your operations.
In the past when a colleague was sick with the flu, it typically only affected that one employee. Everyone else could proceed with their normal activities. Unfortunately, at the beginning of 2022, if anyone in a family, classroom, or social gathering gets sick, everyone in that group can be affected. This means that many more colleagues will need time to care for themselves or others.
Most of us understand the implication of having kids home from school because someone in their class or a family member was potentially exposed. Quarantined kids can require employees to take time (or concentration) away from work.
Although this may sound obvious, the same absences are happening with clients, vendors, and partners. This means planning for how to address key players’ absences will be important to a successful and resilient organization in 2022.
Health is central to resilience.
Lesson Two: Changes Happen
In every one of our client organizations, there have been a disproportionate number of transitions in 2021; whether someone left an organization or an individual transitioned to a new role.
What has been different was (and still is) the pace of change. And the trend line continues to rise sharply. According to Labor reports, 4.5 million people, or 3% of the national workforce, resigned their positions during November 2021. Think about that statistic for a moment. If we carry that metric out to a year, that would mean that nearly 4 out of 10 employees will have resigned! Compounding this challenge, job postings have topped 10 million for six straight months, so employees have a range of greener pastures to consider.
How do you, as a vendor or as a company, address having a new team when you are in the middle of a project?
Our first step is to work with a client on a project reset. We review objectives, approach, responsibilities, and definition of done. Successful project completion depends on having a shared understanding of goals, understanding roles within the project, and clear communications between everyone on the project. Sometimes a new team member will have a different vision for the project, so the reset is a great time to identify changing or new objectives and set expectations for achieving those goals. Without a reset, projects may fail or fail to complete.
Flexibility is an important factor in resilience.
Lesson Three: Redundancy Should Happen
Redundancy, in the engineering sense, is the inclusion of extra team members who are not strictly necessary to functioning, but understand the context of projects, to mitigate downtime. Having back up helps to assure that work can continue regardless of other issues.
A tangible example of redundancy is including several team members on communications so if someone is out or under the weather, work can continue. Additionally, when someone takes time off, clients know who is helping them.
Continuity mitigates risk, which builds resilience.
Lesson Four: Communication MUST Happen
In an environment of change, ongoing communication with clients is central to project success. It’s important to set expectations; for a project, task, even for calls. Since we often conduct workshops and working sessions, setting objectives for the call helps participants understand how they are investing their time and what the outcomes will be.
Are we done yet? Although the process of completing complex technical projects requires communication, it’s also important to set a definition of done that is agreed between our consultants and clients. There are times that a definition changes (after all, the things often change), however having a clear, current understanding focuses project team members on what needs to be completed.
And communication is a two-way street. We rely on client transparency so we can achieve the goals that they outline. Keeping your MRM project team aware of team changes, sick leave, PTO or changes in project direction helps us focus on the right tasks at the right times..
Clear communication helps all team members with their resilience.
A recent Harvard Business Review article defines resilience as a company’s capacity to absorb stress, recover critical functionality, and thrive in altered circumstances. In 2022, the MRM team is committed to benefiting our clients through growing even more resilient.
Over the next several blog posts, we’ll go into more detail on each of these lessons and further explore the theme of resilience.