Pivoting in Crisis. How Ahead of the Curve Are You?

Photo by Karl Lee on Unsplash

Since March 2020, the nation’s workplace has undergone an unplanned transformation that few have ever experienced. Unlike the economic crash of 2008 that displaced many jobs and forced folks into new career paths, the COIVD-19 pandemic drives us to look at how workplace culture relates to our existing careers.

As of September of 2020, many people in the workforce are still uncertain and frustrated, while others have started to experiment and integrate new realities into their work lives. Where managers fall in this process hinges on how much they believe in their organization’s greater purpose.

Organizations have had to change quickly. We expect our leaders to do more. Leaders need to help others process this change and to be strong and resilient themselves. They must do this while shifting strategies, business models, and customer needs. And they need to do it all remotely. How have organizations been able to pivot and still uphold their responsibility to customers, shareholders, and especially employees?

Managers typically bear the brunt of crisis and challenge. Leadership needs to share with them the best practices, the best guidance, and the best tools, information, and resources for them to rise up and move quickly up and around the curve. Culture-Rific takes a look at three companies that are doing just that.

What pivots can my organization make to continue to move the business forward?

Enlightened leadership asks the question: What if we were able to do…?

Choura is an event and experience company based in Torrance, California, that builds temporary venues for Coachella and the US Open in Pebble Beach. In March of 2020, when COVID-19 hit, 100% of their events were canceled. Choura transferred their capabilities from erecting buildouts for festivals and sporting events to building emergency structures for hospitals and outdoor dining.

“Building a parklet isn’t too different than building the VIP tent on the 18th green at the US Open…,” says Jeff Ginter of Choura. “Both draw groups of people together with the anticipation of being around others and having fun.”

In March of 2020, Jeff Ginter was Choura’s Director of Operations. His current role — Sales Manager — is a pivot made due to the company’s need to downsize and restructure.

What are we doing to move our teams forward?

Managers look to leadership for guidance to keep them engaged and committed.

Bombas has been a purpose-driven brand since its founding in 2013, providing socks to the homeless with the profits from their sales, maintaining a 96% satisfaction score among employees.

When COVID-19 hit, they saw an opportunity to expand upon their existing model for charitable giving. They shifted the focus of their partnerships team away from getting their products in front of new buyers, to align with other brands to bring items like clean bedsheets and soap to homeless shelters and charities. In directing this shift, Bombas’ leadership kept forward momentum and their team operating at full capacity.

Do our employees, customers, and the crowd trust us?

If our company were a person, and we were to see them walking down the street, would we greet them warmly? Or would we bristle?

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer 2020, trust — established by demonstrated integrity, purpose, and dependability — outweighs competence in the eyes of employees and customers 76% to 24%.

The Ball Corporation’s operations team in Mexico was able to provide help to COVID-19-impacted communities. In a 72-hour timeframe, 43 employees worked with local suppliers and the government to get 2,873 food and cleaning supplies packages delivered to impacted communities. In this soulful act, employees were able to touch communities in a “very personal way.”

Employees demonstrate trust through behavior like public praise of the culture and being a teammate who is willing to help others succeed. It is a clear indicator of confidence when an employee says, “my company does it right.”

The COVID-19 crisis highlighted the value of being known as a brand that can activate leadership among their management, shift quickly, and inspire teams with a sense of resolve. It emphasized the importance of contribution and getting employees on board in a purpose-driven, meaningful, soulful way. This is how companies build commitment, trust, and engagement. When there is trust, managers can move out of the dip of depression and uncertainty and up into a place where they are experimenting, making decisions, and finding new meaning.

Managers, we ask you, if in the future you were to speak of a peak career experience, would you recall the COVID-19 crisis? Could you say, “I was a part of a team that contributed to building new structures. We created new partnerships. We made sure people were taken care of.” Therein lies the connection to a greater purpose.

We are with you and for you in partnership. Peace — Claire and Regina.

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