Testing Times – a few insights to share.

Apr 29, 2020

Russam are focused on supporting people and organisations to THRIVE. We have a few observations and insights to share during this time of chaos and uncertainty: the role of the interim during the current Coronavirus crisis, remote working and tips for leaders to be more effective, and thirdly security for cyber-attacks.

1. The role of the interim during a crisis:

Russam have been providing Interim Executives since 1982.  All our surveys support the fact that interims are most valuable in a crisis.  For organisations seeking to restructure and reorganise they often turn to an expert with an outside view to lead on some of the most difficult decisions.  An experienced interim can help an organisation scope the way forward and lead change and bring expertise in areas that are in challenged as a result of the pandemic.  The question is what skills are vital to ensure business continuity? Answers are likely to include Human Resources, Technology capability, supply Chain and financial wizardry.

Interim’s – consider carefully how your expertise can be vital in these circumstances.  Be insightful about the challenge in the company that will create an opportunity for you.  If your network is quiet pick up the phone and find out how they are doing, listen and consider where you will add value.  Once you are certain that you can help, offer guidance.  If you are good this will be recognised and is likely to turn into an opportunity. 

2.  Remote working:

A conversation I had yesterday with the Chief Disruption officer in the payments space was very helpful.  Typically, all his Development Team are based in the North West whilst he operated from London.  They moved everyone to working from home early in the crisis but have a daily coffee meeting with everyone dialling in.  This is not obligatory, and he half expected that after a week or so the novelty would wear off and the value of these daily catch ups would be questioned.  However, he is delighted that everyone is joining.  He believes this has brought the team closer together – even though they are physically removed.  Lives at home are in view and I guess this means that bringing your whole self to work is easier. He has also been able to see those in the team that are most vulnerable.  For example, a single man living on his own in simple accommodation – he recognised the challenges that this may have and was able to find a way of supporting this person sensitively.  He says they are now at the point where video calls are as typical as turning around and talking to someone in the office.  Productivity has remained constant and product releases are on schedule.  Also, his CEO was previously very uncomfortable with home working but is now a convert recognising his team are professionals and focused. 

Top tips for remote leadership:

  • Ensure everyone is familiar with the technology required. Invest in technology to make communication as effective as possible.  Consider engaging an interim to audit the effectiveness and robustness of your systems.  This is something that can be done remotely.
  • Have a daily check in via video.  This may be just chat but if you need lead more closely consider carefully your communication style and how you may need to adapt your style to be effective at this dreadful time.
  • Focus on outcomes – teams may be working in extremely difficult circumstances.  Trying to work with children or aged parents in the home and looking after sick people.  So set realistic expectations.  As a manager you may need help on how to manage with all these obstacles in place.  Consider seeking guidance or coaching to help you through this.

3. Security – to threats and other viruses with homeworking:

Sadly, we have seen a spike in Cyber attacks since the start of the pandemic.  With many companies moving their staff to homeworking overnight security may not have been the priority.  However, now homeworking is established it is vital to ensure you are doing everything you can to protect your business.  They key issues are known to be: Password Security – perhaps threatened by the apps you are using to communicate with your teams.  Team members using their own devices means your security team may not have visibility and are unable to protect them.  There has been a 60% increase in phishing emails since the start of the attack.  It is vital that we know how to spot them and what to do about them if we become victim.  Interim specialists are available to support you on all security matters.  Please get in touch if you would like additional support.

Many of us have been working from home for 4 weeks or more now and if we are so far untouched by the virus, we can become complacent and be tempted to break out.  We urge you not to and if you feel you just need to talk to someone to steady your own ship and you think a conversation may be helpful please connect and we will do our best to offer support you and give you advice on your options if you want it.

by Jason Atkinson


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Call us on 0207 099 2222 or email HQ@russam.co.uk

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