Insights & Ideas

Lessons learned: Dealing with unexpected organizational change

Use these 5 tips to survive (and thrive) during unexpected change.

Ideally, large-scale change in an organization is carefully planned and executed strategically. But sometimes, something unexpected happens that changes your business overnight. Suddenly, you’re running on adrenaline and The Brady Bunch Principle: “When it’s time to change, you’ve got to rearrange who you are and what you’re gonna be. Sha na na na na na.”

Alas, the Bradys’ sage advice is not enough guidance to get you through extreme change situations. So, we asked Salo’s leaders how they successfully navigated the extreme changes during the past year. Here’s what they said:

1. Foster adaptability

Creating a culture that emphasizes curiosity, resourcefulness, and problem-solving helps crisis-proof your organization. At Salo, curiosity and intuitiveness have been in our DNA since the beginning. But, even if your organization has been more regimented in the past, letting employees know you’re open to ingenuity during a time of change can make a big difference.

2. Be transparent

Whether it’s a global pandemic or massive economic downturn, being transparent, open, and forthright in communicating with teams is critical. For example, as Salo transitioned from a fully in-person organization to a fully remote organization, we communicated what was happening regularly to people. For our internal employees, we provided daily updates for two months. We also kept our consulting employees and clients in the loop. Being transparent helped the team concentrate on the challenges we needed to address.

3. Prioritize aggressively

Salo opens every new year with a wide variety of corporate initiatives and goals. But we all know how quickly the best-laid plans can be disrupted. Whether it’s a crisis, a business transformation, an acquisition, or something else that profoundly changes our daily business, it’s crucial to deeply refocus and prioritize. What this meant for Salo in the early part of the pandemic was a redoubling our efforts on our core business: Getting work for our consultants. Having clarity around what really mattered “right now” united our team and kept us focused on what mattered each day.

4. Look for the opportunities in disruption

Sometimes a door has to close for a new window to crack open. For Salo—and many other companies—the pandemic upended much of our planning. But it also led to new, exciting ideas. Our strategic plan is now full of options that we hadn’t even considered before. Similarly, disruption can be a place where innovation blooms, with new constraints and business demands requiring your best creative thinking. Looking for opportunities in the crisis helps our company keep moving forward and gives our team something to look forward to.

5. Focus on people

Employee satisfaction is always important but during times of change, employee well-being is paramount. In addition to general support, flexibility, and health benefits, we looked for ways to enhance our employee experience—like offering new professional development opportunities during work downtimes. And, we put our people first no matter what. For example, there were times when a client wanted a consultant to work onsite, and the consultant wasn’t comfortable going to an office. Most of the time, we’d find a solution, but if push came to shove, we’d honor the consultant’s preference even if meant sacrificing the business. Embracing a People-First attitude helps keep employees engaged throughout the change process.

Although they might seem like common sense, these tips will go a long way to making change—intentional or unexpected—easier and more advantageous for your organization. And, if you need more advice, there’s always more Brady wisdom… “When it’s time to change, don’t fight the tide, go along for the ride.” Sha na na na na na, indeed.



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Salo connects senior finance, accounting, and HR professionals with organizations that need their expertise. Joining Korn Ferry’s Interim Executive & Professional practice enables us to continue our twofold, people-focused approach: connecting people with meaningful careers where they can make a positive impact and offering innovative and customized business solutions for clients looking to tackle big challenges. Together with Korn Ferry, we are committed to putting people first, to build a world that works better together.

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