CoAdvantage – Organizational adaptability is a key component of long-term business success. The past few years have proven that: businesses that couldn’t adapt to the pandemic, labor force problems, rapid economic shifts, and more have struggled. Many organizations simply shut their doors forever. Being able to handle new challenges easily is the only way to deal with the uncertainty and change that comes with the modern world.
But how? It’s well and good to say that adaptability is desirable, but what practical steps can organizations today take to be able to meet new and emerging challenges better?
1: Improve your data collection
Foundationally, you cannot adapt to changes you don’t know about. Some changes are genuinely unpredictable; Covid-19, for example, came virtually out of nowhere. Then again, perhaps even the early timeline of the pandemic proves this point. The first documented Covid-19 cases came in mid-December 2019; the first case in the U.S. was documented about a month later, in January 2020; the nearly country-wide lockdown of Italy – one of the first Western nations to be a hard hit – happened about a month after that. The point is that there is usually some kind of indicators that some storm is approaching, but you have to be able to pick up on those signals.
That means businesses need to be able to collect data about possible upcoming challenges before they hit. Unfortunately, most organizational reporting is retrospective in nature; we only prepare quarterly reports about the previous quarter, long after it’s already happened, for instance. The key to proactivity is being able to collect data in real time and extrapolate future trends from it.
In turn, that usually requires good technology and data collection processes. To start, look for ways to begin collecting data that you can use now rather than after-the-fact. For example, instead of conducting annual performance reviews, shift to continuous performance management. Or instead of only occasionally – or never – soliciting employee input and feedback, begin regularly surveying workers about their work and workplace experiences.
2: Improve your communications
Good communication is the foundation of excellent adaptability. If you can’t communicate effectively, especially with employees, you won’t be able to steer the ship successfully. Unfortunately, this is an area where most organizations struggle. Some of that struggle is understandable; modern society’s litigiousness makes it hard to communicate factually about difficult subjects without potentially exposing yourself to legal action. Nevertheless, if you want to be able to respond quickly and successfully to internal or external changes, you must be able to communicate how and why you’re adapting.
One key hallmark of communication-related to change management or workplace adaptability: is specificity. In other words, don’t overgeneralize. It can be tempting to keep these communications at a high level so you don’t get lost in the weeds or make claims you’re not sure you can back up, but being too general can make it harder to solve problems. For example, saying “We have a communication problem” is too general. What is the communication problem? Where does it live? Who does it affect? Who is responsible for it? What is the mechanism of the problem? Get specific.
CoAdvantage, one of the nation’s largest Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs), helps small to mid-sized companies with HR administration, benefits, payroll, and compliance. To learn more about our ability to create a strategic HR function in your business that drives business growth potential, contact us today.