‘We are intentionally supporting our clients in a more positive and impactful way to rebuild their strategies in a post-COVID19 world.’ – Georgina Legoe, Iceni Partner, as she reflects on Iceni’s five-year journey and lessons for survival.
It’s safe to say 2020 is a year like no other. The experience of bushfires, floods and a global pandemic has thrown a spotlight on leadership and how we work. Transformation and change is the new black. Survival means re-calibrating every aspect of our business operations.
Despite this, Iceni is marking five years and we have reflected on our journey here, which includes a challenging last six months. We know we are not alone in facing an unpredictable future, so to celebrate our five years, here are our top five tips for leading and surviving through disruption.
‘Business Not as Usual’ – the 90-Day Plan replaces annual business plans
Planning for the longer-term is too difficult. The ‘three-year plan’ is redundant and annual planning is a luxury of the past. Previous markers such as government budget and priority announcements are in flux, so it is hard to forecast and plan. Teams are constantly restructuring and fighting for more resources. Decisions are stalled and project futures are uncertain. To add to this, time is consumed with the next round of change and trying to keep all the stakeholders happy – and did anybody mention the BAU* which just keeps growing?
Business planning is more important than ever, but in survival mode we need to bring the goalposts in closer. The simple 90-Day Plan is the way to go – it provides a level of certainty and focus while offering the flexibility to pivot with change as it arises.
In recent months, we are guiding more leaders through ‘strategy dialogues’ to map out their 90-Day Plans. We help them recalibrate and realign their activities, pull key levers and agree on shorter-term goals and measures. We help them engage their teams in the change and get stakeholders on board. We facilitate short confidential workshops to test aspirations and allow them to receive independent feedback. We then help them put in place a plan and communicate it to others. We give leaders clarity and increased capacity to focus on delivery amidst the day-to-day demands.
If you need focused time to lift yourself up and look out to the next horizon, then reach out and talk to us about how we can help you develop your 90-Day Plan.
What’s in the ‘secret sauce’ to working better together when you are apart
We are all zoomed out and working longer hours. The work is getting harder and our bosses expect more. We are working all the time and juggling our home life, which is also in upheaval. We miss our colleagues and the social side of work. The culture we built up over years is out the door – we are just surviving, and everybody needs a good holiday! Remote working is reaching its limitations and we need to find new ways to build teams online and maintain goodwill and trust.
But what is the ‘secret sauce’ to working together when we are not in the same room? Simply, empathy and compassion. Leaders need to become experts at listening. They need to empathise and connect with people’s situations. But how do you ‘show up’ online and invite your team to share their concerns. It’s hard to know what your team are really thinking when you don’t meet them by the water cooler at the office.
We recently ran a staff survey for one of our clients. We independently sounded out their team on a range of issues and using a themed report, provided the leader with insights on their team’s concerns. Working remotely, the staff were more comfortable telling us about their issues than raising their hands in an online meeting. We used these insights during a series of coaching conversations which led to practical actions the leader could take to bring their team closer together.
If you need help developing the secret sauce for your remote team, talk to us about how we might help you bring your team back together and rebuild a strong team culture.
You can’t solve a complex problem by yourself
Whether it’s developing a business case, delivering a large infrastructure project or finding a vaccination for COVID-19, an integrated approach is required for success. The pandemic presents a unique opportunity for organisations to hit reset and adopt such a mindset.
Everyone is facing similar pressures and demands so we need to find ways to come together to leverage the bigger opportunities and benefits for all, and not just ourselves. Leaders must find ways to integrate outcomes thoughtfully and strategically across teams and organisational boundaries. This includes aligning strategic initiatives, maximising industry pipelines across projects, and adopting a place-based approach.
Stakeholders and customers need to be in the room from the beginning. We need to pool resources and knowledge by setting up joint advisory or working groups, sharing real-time demand data, seeking customer insights, and harnessing the knowledge of frontline staff.
It’s important to acknowledge that this does not come naturally. To do this well, leaders must embrace uncertainty and discomfort, and balance idealism and pragmatism. You need a steady hand to work through unpredictable dynamics to achieve common ground. It takes time and skill to do this well and our clients are calling on us more and more to help them. It’s a core principle in how Iceni works, and we are well known for our approach.
As an independent facilitator, let us know if we can help you achieve productive and collaborative outcomes working with your customers and stakeholders on complex problems.
Get the fundamentals right – don’t forget the governance
Good governance sets a solid framework for the team and organisation to operate effectively, even during periods of change. We find organisations with efficient, effective and good governance are better placed to adapt to the changes in their environments.
Transformation programs often forget about the governance. They bring together teams from different business areas, often with their own systems and practices. Getting everyone on the same page can take time and setting up governance processes may not be a high priority when jobs are on the line. But what we are see is that without a defined operating model underpinned by good governance, new teams become flustered, and executives are over-worked as everything now channels through their desk, rather than being dealt with by the team.
We find success in supporting clients to co-design new governance frameworks for their new teams, including processes, reports, roles and responsibilities, and oversight. Good governance works when it is simple and has built in flexibility that can be applied practically by all levels of staff. Our preference is to help clients adopt a principles-based approach, rather than be too rules-driven. We then work alongside governance managers, executive officers and leaders to embed and reinforce new approaches.
If you need to streamline workflows through your office, introduce robust reporting, or improve the visibility around the progress of work in the team, then talk to us. We can support you build a fit-for-purpose governance approach for your team.
Celebrate – the small things matter
2020 has had its downs – and its ups as well. Remember to celebrate this year! It may be to recognise a project milestone, an achievement, a new employee, or positive feedback on your team. There are a lot of reasons to recognise the success of your team – both big and small.
Be spontaneous and don’t delay the opportunity to express how you value your team and their contribution. And yes, the pandemic has limited physical celebrations, but it hasn’t limited other creative ways to celebrate. How about a virtual award, a short shout out at a team meeting or even a virtual high five?
Celebrating and recognising success keeps your team aligned to the organisation’s values and priorities, build shared culture, and importantly strengthen the team’s morale and collectiveness.
So, on that note – let there be (birthday) cake! Happy 5th Birthday Iceni!
* BAU – Business-as-usual – this is what we call the day job or the regular work we need to do