Built to Last Teams For Crisis

By Dr. Ezaz Ahmed

COVID-19 will leave the world poorer than before with much of the world’s recent economic progress erased permanently. No organizations, enterprises, businesses are immune from the impact of this crisis. Experts are anticipating a second wave of COVID-19 in fall and obviously organizations, be it in public or private, small or large are already affected from the first wave and will continue to face challenges in future.


Most organizations work in teams and teams perform to achieve organizational goals and implement strategic plans. It is commonly suggested that teams are affective when team members trust each other, share common goals and have a sense of belongingness to teams. Organizations, after COVID-19, will continue to operate through flexible work times, virtual workspace, virtual teams etc. So, the question remains...


How can organizations build teams that will last for the current and future slowdowns, lockdowns or any unprecedented changes?


To face macro disruption such as COVID-19, teams in organizations need to be flexible and resilient, adaptive and agile. Organization’s priorities change during crisis and teams need to ensure that they are flexible to adapt new targets, adjust their expectations and ensure that all stakeholders of the organizations are accounted for when they perform to achieve the revised targets. Teams, characterized as flexible and resilient will be quick to respond to crisis with determination and commitment to serve with a purpose. They will be able to set standards for the organization’s other teams and for industry.


Adaptability will assist teams to be flexible enough to change its course of action to achieve revised objectives. Teams with rigid attitudes are puzzled during challenging times. During crisis, achieving results are tough and teams with higher adaptability will create momentum of increased performance for them and for rest of the organizations. In a recent article in Harvard Business Review, Chris Nichols and his team have suggested managers to be adaptive to lead teams. They emphasized that “going ahead” during crisis is key for the team, managers and organizations.


Agility, on the other hand, helps teams to perform that requires changes in direction while keeping balance of using organizational resources, changing objectives and anticipating future disruptions. Agility emphasizes the concept of “we” in teams than “I” and helps teams to remain operate virtually. Ideally, agility during crisis becomes an invisible hand that guides the virtual teams work remotely in harmony and in synchronous way.


Finally, effective communication is the single most important ingredient that will help teams to be flexible and resilient, adaptive and agile. Effective communication plays an important role in keeping the teams and organizational leaders to be transparent about the crisis, changes in organizational objectives, stakeholders’ expectations and outlook. Effective communication will increase team collaborations, belongingness, performance. Crisis is sudden disruption and teams in organizations that are developed to be flexible and resilient, adaptive and agile will continue achieving organizational goals during this and next crisis.


About Ezaz Ahmed

Dr. Ezaz Ahmed is the Founding Dean of the Division of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology at Columbia College, South Carolina, USA. He brings a robust body of knowledge in Human Resource Management, and Business as an academic leader and researcher. Besides his Ph.D. in Human Resources from Australia, he has an MBA with Distinction in International Business, Bachelor of Economics with Honors and earned his Certificates in Online Teaching from the University of Oxford, UK and in Business Analytics from the Harvard Business School Online, USA. Dr. Ahmed is an active researcher and has published over 50 journal articles, international conference papers. Dr Ahmed has obtained prestigious Certification from the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), USA's Senior Certified Professional (SCP) status.

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