When the pandemic hit, it drew a line in the sand for companies: adapt or fail. What it didn’t tell us is how to adapt or when to do it. Nearly two years in, if you’re like a lot of organizational leaders, you may be reeling from “pivot whiplash,” having sunk immense resources and energy into adapting to constantly shifting safety protocols, markets, supply chains, and more.
Pivoting: the good, the bad, and the near-sighted
Yes, the pivots just keep coming. (See Canlis restaurant launching 11 business ideas in 11 months.) Some became irrelevant just weeks or months after adoption, or exposed a troubling tone deafness around the suffering the pandemic has caused. (Luxury hand sanitizer? Really?) And still others have been glorious, hope-inducing examples of how adversity can spawn innovation:
– Restaurants like Lady Jaye in West Seattle perfected cold weather outdoor dining.
– Entertainment providers like Spotify and Netflix moved away from ad revenue in favor of original, subscription-worthy content.
– Shopify is sidestepping Amazon by connecting stores to nearby consumers.
If you’re not seeing this kind of innovation in your organization, you’re not alone. Most businesses took a “we just gotta get through this” approach, focusing on how to keep the lights on until things return to normal. But “normal” may be a thing of the past.
Businesses are mostly unprepared
The hard truth is that, even if the whole world got inoculated tomorrow against COVID-19, global health projections anticipate this will not be the last pandemic of our lifetimes. And even if it were, a wealth of climate-related disruptions like wildfires, flooding, and power outages are lined up, happy to throw a wrench into your organization’s carefully laid plans. A recent survey of national HR leaders found that while “COVID-19 and future infectious diseases [are] viewed as major threats to business, less than 50 percent have plans to manage them.”
Get good at change
What’s a leader to do? We asked Amalia Martino, Founder and President of The Vida Agency, who said, “Get really, really good at change.” She explains that the ability to adapt quickly to volatile change will be the single most important determinant of both short- and long-term success. “The only way I know of to mitigate that kind of uncertainty—unless you have some kind of crystal ball—is with informed and inclusive decision-making.”
In recent months, TVA has been developing a service to do just that. Launched last week, Vibe Check by Vida is a rapidly deployable way to gain a pulse on where your staff stands today, along with industry and landscape insights about how other organizations are approaching similar challenges or decisions.
Listen to your people
“We built the service for ourselves at first,” says Amalia, “because we realized we were on the cusp of a pivot, but didn’t want to do so without engaging staff in the process and finding out what they really need.”
For example, we learned most people miss the ability to collaborate in person. “But it’s no surprise that no one wants to bring back the time and expense of long commutes,” says Amalia. As a result of Vibe Check by Vida, we’re establishing satellite offices around the greater Seattle area instead of going back to a single, centralized location. “It will be the best of both worlds.”
But some of what we learned was surprising. More than half of our staff said if they returned to working in person, they would be very interested in employer-provided ORCA transit cards.
“We had no idea they were feeling that comfortable with public transit, or how many of our staff do not own cars. We wouldn’t have budgeted for transit cards without Vibe Check by Vida, which means we would have missed an easy opportunity for our people to be heard and supported, and to reduce our company’s footprint on the environment.”
Become a pivot master
Amalia believes that people who are heard and supported are more able to do their best work.
“What I’m hearing from our team is that that people love to work here, and they’re eager to be a part of the pivots,” says Amalia. “We see Vibe Check by Vida as one of our core services to ensure it stays that way. We may not have control over all that’s changing in the world, but we can control how we prepare for and respond to it.”
Contact The Vida Agency to find out how Vibe Check by Vida can help your people do their best work!