See through the crisis: accountable performance

by | Jun 8, 2020 | Company, Industry

See Through The Crisis – Temporall Techniques #4

The businesses that thrive – irrespective of crisis situations – tend to be those in which leaders provide clear, aligned, accessible direction to their workforce. So a crisis such as the pandemic is a test of this approach – not the trigger to start it.

But whatever your starting point, when the pressure increases upon your organisation, leaders need to sanity check their priorities and the way they communicate them to their team. It’s essential you’re clear about the mindset, motivations and actions that maximise your organisational resilience. If everyone understands how work needs to get done in a crisis, you’re far more likely to survive it.

A unique approach to resilience

It’s critical to recognise that no two organisations will have an identical strategy. True resilience relies on your workforce drawing on unique organisational strengths, and its readiness to manage specific points of weakness. Likewise how you adapt your operations and act flexibly will be bespoke to your business.

So where do you start? Our Organisational Resilience Index identifies three areas of focus for building resilience, so it’s important to understand how you define and determine success for your own organisation across all of these. As Temporall board advisor, and Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at The London Business School, Julian Birkinshaw states:

“Human resilience is about individual employees having the personal strength to keep moving, leaders having the perspective and skills to chart a way forward in difficult circumstances, and the organisation as a whole to have the capacity to adapt quickly and bounce back in the face of adversity.”

Success in individual behaviour
The individual qualities associated with resilience are multifaceted. But one of the key things to consider when judging them in the context of an organisational response to a crisis is – does that individual want or choose to apply those qualities to the work they do for you? This will often be determined by the approach taken by leadership, as well as other engagement strategies within the organisation. However key indicators as to the effective of a personal approach to resilient will include:
  • Ability to complete workload – especially as elements of individual responsibility may need to change during a crisis.
  • Prioritisation in a changing context – ultimately is the individual able to deliver the things that best support the firm’s priorities?
  • Accuracy of tasks completed – when margin for error becomes even more limited, is the role being completed in the most effective way?
  • Contribution to key resilience initiatives – where new or adapted goals are in place specific to the resilience strategy, is the person able to take these on board?
  • Do they contribute positively to the culture, and the needs of peers, during the crisis?
Success in leadership

The first in our series focused on the importance of self awareness in leadership. That process will determine the key goals against which you’ll hold your senior team to account. But in the resilience work we’ve undertaken with private and public sector organisations during the pandemic, some key themes for successful leadership have included:

  • Have your communications prioritised and successfully delivered on employee motivation? Is there widespread understanding of the strategic direction of the organisation?
  • Have done the right things to minimise the impact of the disruption on your workforce?
  • What has been the effectiveness of your flexibility strategy – has the business adapted quickly and successfully?
  • Is there widespread employee recognition of the effectiveness of line management and support systems?
  • Have you maintained or improved on the alignment of lines of business and/or disparate teams?
Success for the organisation
The overall organisational performance achieved during the crisis will be a function of leadership and individual efforts. So to make sense of that performance, you will require some specific, measurable and agreed targets, which are likely to encompass:
  • Adjusted core performance metrics / deliverables which reflect the specific crisis situation. These may need to adapt as the situation unfolds, but should give a clear alternative to just leaving it all to chance!
  • An overall eNPS score can be a useful – if nerve wracking – indicator to take during your resilience push. Although it may feel like a difficult time to take a pulse check, good leadership can reinforce stronger belief in the organisation even in difficult times.
  • Potential third party metrics such as partner / media perception of the brand may contribute to an analysis of how effective your overall strategy has been.
  • Specific metrics associated with macro-level processes such as transformation / digital / market growth may be included. The level to which your organisation transitions to ‘survival mode’ will vary, but where possible core strategic programmes should continue – as long as they remain relevant and help steer you in a pragmatic future direction.
This commitment to understanding your organisational goals during any period of change or high pressure is critical to knowing where you are, what you need to do, and where your priorities lie. If you get it right, it will also help provide the foundation for future success.
If you want to discover more about your organisation’s resilience strategy, you can do so here.

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