I sincerely welcome you all to this column christened “Management Discuss with SAB”. In this column, I will be discussing all aspects of management as they affect our day-to-day operations and decision-making process. All we want to do is to make a better manager out of you in all ramifications, someone who’s well accoutered with the practical principles and skills required of a 21st – century geocentric manager. Get your seat belt fastened as we take off.
The greatest challenge confronting the world now is the coronavirus pandemic that has affected every facet of human endeavour; therefore, I will begin this series by discussing “The Challenge of Management in a COVID 19 Crisis”.
I will discuss the topic following this outline; Introduction; the new normal; changes in the world of work; the driver of the new normal; new realities; implications of COVID 19 pandemic; challenges of management; managing the challenges; take-home code (this is a handy summary of the paper recommendations) and conclusion.
The world is no longer the same. Everything is changing very fast at the speed of light; technology, climate, education, tourism, health, way of life, types of music, leadership, value system, politics, management styles, employee expectations, etc. Though the world has never been static, everything has always been changing. The only constant thing about life is change. Most of the changes are not what we negotiated for, but whether we like it or not, change must happen, it’s now our choice to either accept the change or left with its attendant consequences. It is important to note that every change has always been accompanied by visible positives and negatives, by the time we critically look at these changes, the level and speed at which they travel from one end to the other, one would come to agree that truly the world is a global village.
One of the recent changes the world is currently battling with is the coronavirus pandemic (COVID19). The effect of which the entire world is struggling to combat especially as it has brought with it a new way of living called the “new normal”. This new normal has affected the way we dress; live; sneeze and cough; associate, assemble, interrelate, breath, work, go out, visit people, study, buy, sell, and if care is not taken the way we sleep and above all; the way we see life especially the transient nature of life. All we think matters before, matters a little or even not at all. Clubbing, partying, and going to relaxation joints even worship centres are now high-risk areas to visit. These are places most people think they can’t do without pre-COVID 19. Now, we have the ample opportunity to get closer to our creator, families, close friends, and associates which is really the primary essence of life.
In this crisis, no one is left out; HR professionals are battling with the challenges of how to adapt the organisation’s resources to comply with the new work model/order, how to keep an employee busy remotely, a new way of conducting appraisals and measuring employees output, etc; Event managers, and hotel managers are practically either out of job or having little or nothing to do because event centres are lockdown, people are prohibited from gathering, no parties and/or events, therefore, nothing for event managers to manage; Airline managers, and transport managers are trying to count their loses and gradually coming back on stream with low patronage as people are still scared of commingling despite the measures put in place to ensure safe travel most importantly by the aviation industry; Logistic managers are finding it difficult to carry out their duties effectively and efficiently especially with the closure of borders and the initial ban on interstate travel except for essential goods; goods coming from outside the country particularly from high-density COVID 19 countries have to be properly checked to ascertain their COVID 19 status. This is already causing a lot of delay in clearing goods at the port; Entrepreneurs are faced with the problem of ensuring a continuous flow of income, business survival strategies, and employee remuneration among other challenges.
All aspects (process) of management such as planning, organizing, leading, controlling, coordinating, and motivating are affected. Many people have tested positive for the virus; many have died, many have recovered and many are yet to recover while many are carrying the virus unknowingly. As a result of this pandemic; the Organised Private Sector (OPS) was unexpectedly shut down which resulted in the death of many organizations’, many are dying, and many are struggling to survive while many are smiling to the banks, expanding their horizon, and employing more people. The success and/or failure of any organisation’s experience in the period is dependent on the side of the divide the organization belongs to. It’s therefore important to evaluate your organisations products and/services and their impacts/contributions and acceptability by the society especially as business managers are contending in-between health and business continuity challenges
THE NEW NORMAL
The new normal is leaving no stone unturned. As it prescribes the way we teach, it also dictates the seating arrangement, the way we travel and the seating arrangement; the way we go out and the way we have to dress; cover our nose and mouth with facemasks; the way we exchange banters; handshakes have now been replaced with Elbow shakes and/or Leg shakes. No more can we cluster in a room for board meetings, two metres distance must be maintained and the number of persons in attendance must be within the stipulated numbers as much as possible while conducting our meetings online is seriously advocated. Annual General Meetings, weddings, burial ceremonies and other events have to be done in obedience to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control protocol.
Now we have to obey simple protocols as stipulated by the World Health Organisation/Nigeria Centre for Disease Control to flatten the curve of the pandemic. Wash hands with soap and running water, wear facemask especially in public places, avoid touching the nose and face, disinfect objects, avoid clouded places as much as possible, if feeling sick sit at home, if nothing important to do, stay at home. We are beginning to get used to lexicon such as; Palliatives, Work from Home, Social distancing, Contact tracing, Isolation, and Testing! Testing! Testing!
Coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the entire work setting. Though the work settings have been disrupted for long, coronavirus only came to force it on our throat since we have been slow or refused to accept the reality. Many organisations especially those in the E-commerce business that has accepted the reality earlier are smiling to the bank. If COVID 19 disappears today, it may not possible to live the way we used to live.
CHANGES IN THE WORLD OF WORK
The world of work has gone through stages from the 18th – century first industrial revolution which was characterized with the introduction of mechanical production using hydro-electric and steam-powered equipment to the early 20th – century 2nd Industrial Revolution also known as Technological Revolution that brought about the new technological systems mostly electrical power and telephones. The third industrial revolution of the early 1950s was known for its digital revolution which brought about semiconductors, mainframe computing, personal computing, and the Internet while the fourth Industrial Revolution is a way of describing the blurring of boundaries between the physical, digital, and biological worlds. It’s a fusion of advances in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, genetic engineering, quantum computing, and other technologies.
What really is the driver of this change? Technology! Technology is the new driver of the new reality of work. Video conferencing is a new normal today; Remote working is critical, and collaboration tools are a must-have for a productive environment; Mass quarantines and complete lock-downs, the pandemic has re-ignited and amplified the debate over the future of work especially as corporate giants like Twitter, Google, Facebook, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) have announced permanent work from home for their employees till 2021, does that mean the beginning of the end of the traditional office typology?
The new reality is not leaving any stone unturned. As it dictates the way we teach, it also dictates the seating arrangement, the way we travel, and the way we must seat while in the aircraft and/or vehicle, the way we work, and how the office environment must be arranged. We are compelled to accept the reality that an employee does not need to appear in person in the office to work, work can now be done remotely which can; Reduce the level of eye-service as an employee got to deliver because deliverables are easier to measure with remote working and the variables to appraise work performance are no longer ambiguous. An employee can now go to the office when necessary, s/he can exercise, bond with family, make the best use of his/her time and deliver quality results.
In this new world order; everything is now networked; people, data, computers, products, or processes. All these are driven by accelerated connectivity, new talent models, and cognitive tools as Robotics, AI, GIG economy and crowds grow, jobs are being reinvented which is creating augmented workforce, the old order is giving way to the new, the new work order is now becoming faster and smarter. There are faster ways to send documents, letters, make phone calls, even order food, etc. Everything is becoming smart; work, offices, meetings, banking, cars, phones, religions/ beliefs, TV, even relationship as there are faster ways of wooing. The new dynamic is bringing about a very fast and radical shift in strategies, structures, systems, processes, and technology.
What then are the implications of COVID 19 pandemic?
To be continued next week.
SAB – Sunday Ade Bello is a multi-talented, analytical and highly qualified Management Trainer, Inspired Writer, Examiner and Education Specialist. He is the CEO of WorkLife Training Professionals, Lagos