MANAGING FORCED CORPORATE TRANSITION
…strategies for circumventing the ‘sin bin’ of post-COVID-19 economy
By Chris N. Ohanemu, Ph.D
In this piece, we are not talking ECONOMICS, rather, we shall discuss MANAGEMENT.
There is nothing new under the sun and those who ‘have visited heaven’ have not convinced us there is something new there. So, why are managers, investors and even employees of organizations the world over panicky?
The much that can happen is that organizations in most parts of the world will undertake what I call FORCED CORPORATE TRANSITION – a period for an organization to change from one state to another; a period to change from one condition to the other, and even for governments to change from one governance style to another.
There is no doubt, it is going to be a battlefield provided by a ‘sponsor’ – the economy. So, what is new? Skilled strategists who are also managers would recall that we have always taught them that among the first things you must do before going into a battle is to understand the enemy, the sponsor and the battlefield itself. So, who then should be apprehensive of the post-COVID-19 economy as it relates to businesses?
Most major events the world experienced before now shook the world and affected the economy, businesses and organizations operating in it. If you draw a line between ‘pre- and -post’ of such events, it becomes clear that in most cases business organizations shifted to new conditions. In the case of governments, ‘the leopard defied all odds to change its skin’ in order to survive. For instance:
- After the French Revolution of 1789, demand conditions changed and organizations in existence than had to change their ways of thinking and doing business. The world survived it.
- The slave trade of 17th to19th centuries came, shook the world, and when it ended, it only created changes in business and nature of organizations, considering emerging demands.
- Even when Napoleon Bonaparte – in the continental system – issued the Berlin Decrees of November 1806, which resulted in an economic war between Britain and France, the sky did not come down. Instead, businesses and organizations changed their shape and behaviour.
- The First World War came and this planet earth did not sink. Organizations learned to survive after the event.
- The Malthusian predictions in ‘The Principles of Population’ created fear, but the economy, businesses and organizations reconciled” later and the world moved forward.
- The Second World War of 1939 to 1945 came, devastated the world, shook the world economy, organizations changed their conditions and moved on.
- The depression of the 1930s did not torpedo the world economy for too long. We are still here.
- The Gulf War was not an exception
- The various civil wars in different countries have not succeeded in inflicting permanent injury on the world economy or that of the respective countries. In each case, the organizations changed their state and began to flow with the economy.
After all these events, the sky has not dropped, heaven has not shifted, and of course, the fire in hell has not stopped burning. So, why would the real managers be afraid of the new economy? It may even become a new ‘normal’ after all, but corporate bodies the world over must transit.
Overall, tough times will come, but the duration will be determined by toughness of the managers, the weapons (skill) they have, and how they have decided to deploy them.
RESILIENCE is a weapon, BRAVERY is another, AMBITION should be their footstool, and REVIEWED STRATEGIES will remain their pedal. Again STRUCTURE will continue to be the manager’s office DESK (as structure usually follows strategy). Lastly, BRAINSTORMING should be their pillow!
It is known in the study of strategy that the duration of fighting in any battlefield will very much depend on the skills of the fighters, the weapons used, the location of the battlefield, and above all, the determination of the opponents.
In all, an important aspect of the forthcoming situation is the ability of managers to manage the symptoms of what I call CORPORATE WILDERNESS in the midst of the transition.
TIME TO ACT
Managers in most countries of the world affected by Covid-19 must learn to do the following:
- Abandon high regard for certificates/paper qualifications and embrace the need for skills. In hiring, aim at relevant skills, plus experience and not certificates. If it is possible to identify the retired or elderly who is willing to serve to rescue, sign them on a contract of between 2 to 3 years to enable younger employees to learn from their experience.
- Work closely with the training manager, specify the skills that would be needed for you to perform, and join in searching for anyone who has it or who can train those that need such skills. It is no longer going to be the business of the training manager alone.
- Show expressed and implied love for lower-level workers, even at the expense of some pleasant relationship with the central management/investors to some extent. Do not throw punches downwards; if you must throw punches at all, direct them upwards to save heads at the lower rings (if need be).
- Scale up the use of committees to play safe and again to have enough time to do your work.
- ‘Keep shut’, avoid unnecessary publicity in the first two years or until the organization survives.
- Play down on the application of theories, but invest more in practice.
- Develop and apply new skills in corporate diplomacy. If this is not readily available, hire trainers on a part-time basis.
- Make increased use of meetings in managing.
- Do not deploy corporate resources to fight corruption; rather use such resources to block the loopholes. It is cheaper and more peaceful.
- Increase the use of written communication in managing the organization.
- Continuously, aim at increased job satisfaction for lower-level workers until the organization survives.
- Adopt own way of recording and monitoring performance results, for two years.
- Set up a standing strategy review committee headed by an experienced manager or an outsider – consultant – where it is not available in-house or where the time of the managers become a major consideration. You must demand on a regular basis the outcome of deliberations.
- No matter your kind of business, selling techniques must change and the sales team must wear a new personality.
- Pay attention to research results if you do not have a unit for this, but the services.
- Change vision and mission to suit the new economic situation.
- Review the status of supervision and make use of the dynamic supervision style.
- Train yourself and others to shorten the duration of the tough time.
- Finally, always believe in GOD’S UNCOMMON GRACE.
MANAGING ‘CORPORATE OPERATIONS WILDERNESS’
Different views about the organizations will emerge. Some will become places where people do not take care of control. Some managers will not be regarded as important at the beginning. Some of the organizations will be seen as unproductive and some ‘barren’, as will be exhibited in the following symptoms:
- The investors may be confused as to the level of expectations from their investment or corporate performance.
- Some managers will become candles burnt on both ends – by the employees and the top management/investors.
iii. The dearth of required skills to move the organization forward may become commonplace.
- Productivity may be low at the early stage.
- The markets may pretend initially that they have no need for the products/services.
vii. There will be confusing and conflicting government regulations resulting from unsuitable governance skills.
viii. Corruption will shift from top to lower levels because of the new psyche of the employees.
In the new economy, therefore, the corporate manager is urged to always analyze consciously the economist maxim of ‘ALL THINGS BEING EQUAL’, for things will never be equal until the new becomes ‘the new normal’.
Best wishes to managers of organizations in a post-COVID-19 era the world over.
For more information, clarifications and/or customized corporate advise contact us on:
Chris N. Ohanemu, Ph.D
MD/CEO, HILLSGATE CONSULTING