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Driving and sustaining change programs in times of crisis

Managing and executing change is always challenging—even more so in the COVID-19 crisis. In this webinar, McKinsey experts discuss actions that leaders can take to best support and sustain change efforts.

Research indicates that only 30 to 40 percent of organizations achieve and sustain impact through their change efforts. With the COVID-19 crisis has come an even greater need for change alongside new challenges. Through our research, we have developed an evidence-based perspective on what it takes to manage and execute change across organizations. We call these critical activities “impact essentials.”

In this webinar, McKinsey experts discuss some of the fundamentals of accelerating change now and sustaining it through the post-crisis “next normal.” The conversation highlighted how leaders can ramp up change programs by focusing attention and energy across three categories of impact essentials:

  • Setting direction. Leaders should recommit to the ‘what’ and ‘when’ of the aspiration for change, based on a realistic view of the company’s position. In communication with stakeholders, a tone of deliberate calm can help build trust and demonstrate a recognition of each employee’s value. Engagement should be consistent, frequent, live, and face-to-face, even if virtual.
  • Driving execution. Leaders that were preparing a change program or had launched one before the crisis should revisit the portfolio of initiatives and reprioritize them according to the company’s new situation and scenario-based outlook for the future. Many organizations will choose to prioritize initiatives that will generate value in the first year. To accelerate progress, leaders can empower small cross-functional teams to deliver against the program’s priorities. Companies can also speed change by combining their crisis-response function—a “nerve center,” at some companies—with their change-management or transformation office. Leaders can use this moment to hard wire change into how the organization operates.
  • Activating the organization. Leaders must be visible, empathetic, and attuned to creating psychological safety and should use this period of uncertainty to express and demonstrate their commitment to change. Influencers in the organization should continue to be empowered to drive change. Organizations should take a through-the-crisis view of their talent agenda, including capability building for critical skills and increased recognition, to affirm their dedication to people and to building a workforce for the future.

For more, please see “Reimagining the post-pandemic organization” and “To emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, companies should start reskilling their workforces now.”

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