For organizations to move effectively forward after a crisis, it is necessary for leadership to pay close attention to the climate and culture of the company. By conducting a needs assessment, prioritizing needs, and emphasizing relationships, leaders can minimize the short and long-term impact of a crisis and create sustainable energy moving forward. Post crisis energy, however, must be cultivated to move past surviving to thriving. Today we will examine some strategies for creating and sustaining energy in the post-crisis world.
Creating Energy Post-Crisis
Leaders must remember that the endeavors an organization was focusing on pre crisis will most likely need to pivot in the post-crisis realm. As strong as a company's mission and vision may be, there will be a need to pivot based on the physical and emotional restrictions the crisis has put on the organization's employees. Depending on the crisis, the impact on employees could be minimal, or far-reaching. It is up to a leader to conduct an appropriate needs assessment and connect with his or her employee's to get a solid read on the state of the company post-crisis in order to assess the state of the organization and appropriately pivot based on need.
During the time of the needs assessment, it may become clear to the organizational leader that the company is surviving rather than thriving. With an appropriate plan of action, constructed based on the previously conducted needs assessment, a leader can rearrange priorities and attend to the needs of various stakeholders. Once those rhythms are in place, however, a leader needs a way to create sustainable progress and momentum forward. This can most easily be done by reconnecting to the company's mission and vision - the what and the why.
Reconnecting to the mission
A company's mission clarifies the day-to-day of an organization. Post crisis, honing in on the mission of the company can be a great way to reconnect to the organization's what. Remembering who we are, who we serve, and what problems we solve can help us hone in on the good work that needs to be done without spinning our employees' wheels. For example, let's look at the mission statement of my current school: A safe learning environment, committed to fostering personal growth and academic excellence. After the bomb threat we experienced in my first year as principal, turning back to our mission statement supported our energy moving forward. We needed to re-assess our emergency evacuation plans and make improvements (such as having a back-up water supply in an emergency evacuation situation based on high temperatures in the desert in August). We needed to communicate revisions with stakeholders to reassure them that their concerns were heard and were being addressed. We needed to be physically present as administrators so our parents could see us during pick-up and drop-off, and so that our students knew we weren't going to be a team who remained in our offices during pass periods or at lunch. And our classrooms needed to get back to an intensive focus on learning. Our expectations could not waver. We had a job we had committed to and once our emergency situation was over, it was time to assess, revise, and move on.
Once you hone in on the mission and sustain rhythms of work that begin to function like clockwork once again, a leader's job is to re-introduce the vision once again. The mission of a company is the day-to-day work that needs to be done. It is necessary and it serves the purpose of grounding us in our daily work. A mission is not often inspiring, however. This is where vision work comes into play. This is where sustainable energy lives and thrives.
Reconnecting to the Vision
A mission describes who an organization is. A vision, on the other hand, describes where a company is going. A vision should help us create a tomorrow so compelling that it drives the decisions we make today. This is the type of work that will drive an organization forward in a post-crisis world. A company's future will be driven by the choices that are made in the present.
This is where a leader turns back to the heart of the work. Perhaps this is where the pre-crisis focus and areas of emphasis and implementation are revisited once again. This is where the new learning comes back into play and staff pick up where they left off with new technologies, strategies and learning tools. Our school's vision reads, "every child, every day, prepared to meet life's challenges." How do we reassess as a team where we are in our vision-driven work? How are we reaching every child, every day? Do we need to create new small group counseling sessions post-crisis? Are there students experiencing dips in their academic progress due to heightened stress or fear? What do remediation groups look like moving forward? What new learning needs to occur to properly address the needs of "every child" in our school? This will automatically create new professional learning cycles, texts to explore and connections to create. This is where the inspiration from the vision turns into a revised action plan for the school. This is where everyone re-engages with the work with the enthusiasm that a strong vision compels.
Reconnecting with an organization's mission and vision is one of the most simplistic ways to create and drive sustainable energy forward after a crisis. The terminology is familiar and the realization that the what and the why of school hasn't changed despite the crisis event is reassuring and grounding to those who are feeling out of sorts after the emergency event. Going back to what students and staff know is valued and true about the work can feel stabilizing and creates a sense of normalcy out of chaos. Never losing sight of the the what or the why will propel an organization forward no matter what crisis it has previously endured.
Linger a Little Longer:
1. Describe the work of an organization's mission. What is the mission of your current place of work?
2. Describe the work of an organization's vision. What is the vision of your current place of employment?
3. Write out how revisiting your mission and vision can propel your specific company forward post crisis event. How does reconnecting with the what and the why provide stability out of chaos?