Insights & Ideas

Lessons learned: Dealing with unexpected organizational change

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Ideally, large-scale change in an organization is carefully planned and executed strategically. But sometimes, something unexpected happens (we’re looking at you COVID) 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 are their top 5 tips for surviving (and thriving) during a change:

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: As we transitioned from a fully in-person organization to a fully remote organization, we communicated what was happening regularly to our key audiences. 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 stay calm(er) and concentrate on the challenges we needed to address.

3. Prioritize aggressively: Salo started 2020 with a wide variety of exciting corporate initiatives and goals. But, when the pandemic hit we refocused all of our efforts on our core business: Getting work for our consultants. Getting 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:
The pandemic might have killed some of our planned 2020 initiatives, but it also led to new, exciting ideas. Our strategic plan is now full of options that weren’t even a possibility a year ago. Looking for opportunities in the crisis helps our company keep moving forward and gives our team something to look forward to.

5. Focus on the folks.
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 keeps 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.