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What to do about your organizational culture after the crisis

Organizations with a strong, positive culture have weathered the global health crisis and all that it has brought with it a lot better than others. However, every company and every person working there has been tested one way or another. It’s important to take a look at these challenges and use them as a starting point to either repair or rebuild. It’s not a matter of the existing culture being inadequate but of adapting to a very different way of doing things and a radically changed mindset.

Before the crisis, most employees were in the office daily, and even remote workers could be present for important meetings or updates. Interactions were frequent and allowed for natural communication and collaboration, mostly face to face.

Since companies and employees had to move many activities online, it’s yet unclear both what the toll of all of this is and what the “new normal” will look like. What is certain is that organizational cultures need a big boost.

Here are some ideas of how companies can manage this:

Put people first

If there was ever a time for organizations to show empathy and compassion, this is it. Especially in situations where companies took a big hit because of the crisis, people were surely hurt even more. All the uncertainty, the anxiety, and the sadness of having colleagues and friends on furlough or unemployment have added up to a not-so-good state of mind.

Even the most resilient ones feel the weight of all that’s happened over the past two years. Furthermore, the crisis has brought to the surface painful issues pertaining to discrimination and exclusion. Organizations need to look at their existing culture and make significant efforts towards diversity, equity and inclusion.

Painful conversations should not be avoided, neither should the issues that I have mentioned above and any others relevant to your organization. It’s important to listen and try to understand different experiences. Leaders who manage to do this will have happy and fully functional teams in the new post-pandemic reality.

Read more: Talent development for better Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Reinforce company values

Dealing with major changes and great challenges has made organizations focus more on putting out fires and building resilience plans that nurture their core values. I think we can all agree that the past couple of years have not been the time for motivational videos about what the company stands for and its vision for a better world.

 Now, however, there’s great need to remember and restate all that, not only as a rallying call for all employees but also as a valuable reminder to leaders. Many decisions have to be made about moving forward and grounding them in the company’s core values is the only way to make sure the company stays on track.

These values can act as a much-needed anchor in (still) uncertain times. They also help do things transparently and show employees and customers that the core values are still acknowledged and followed.

Communication and connection are key

When the crisis began, people and companies were confused and stressed, and communication was hectic, frequent, and not always helpful.

However, it was the best that companies could do under those circumstances. We’ve all learned a lot from that – and it has been quite an abrupt learning curve – now it’s time to put all those valuable takeaways into more efficient communication models. More is not necessarily better.

If you blow up people’s inboxes with long emails, they will just stop reading them. Video communication has its advantages, but since Zoom fatigue seems to be the new epidemic, it’s not something to be abused either. Internal communication teams have to sit down, look at what truly works and what doesn’t, and create a new pattern that fits their organization. The point is to stay connected and give out information to employees in an effective manner without clogging their calendars.

Read more: Top 5 ways L&D professionals can avoid Zoom fatigue

Be honest 

Some companies have managed to thrive in this crisis, but most have suffered major losses. People can see that and when it comes to employees, it creates a lot of uncertainty and anxiety.

It’s important to treat people with respect and trust them enough to tell the truth, even when it’s bad news. It’s also best if leaders can admit vulnerability instead of pretending to be completely sure of the organization’s direction.

It takes more strength to say: “I don’t know,” and it also earns more trust.” We’re in this together” isn’t just a saying, but a reality. The sooner leaders internalize this truth and start acting accordingly, the sooner they can achieve a genuine connection to their teams. Then, they’ll be ready to move forward to rebuild the organizational culture that will ultimately help get the business through these trying times.

Read more: 3 Leadership styles that work in times of crisis

Closing thoughts

Organizational culture is not an immovable thing. It suffers changes and needs constant nurture. Since it has been one of the most important factors in making it through the past couple of years, all companies should give it proper attention now.

Organizational culture is not an immovable thing. It suffers changes and needs constant nurture. Since it has been one of the most important factors in making it through the past couple of years, all companies should give it proper attention now.