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One Year Later: Our COVID-19 Experience

Like most organisations, TMS Consulting staff took a dive into the unknown in March 2020. We started working from home, reduced our working hours and applied for government stimulus to support our business continuity. Importantly, we converted all engagement activities to online as the main mechanism for delivering our services to clients. Whilst initially it felt like we’d switched from being cast in a high-speed action movie to a slow contemplative period drama, the year seemed to disappear as quickly as it came. However, we earmarked what we learnt along the way and have found many of these insights helpful in supporting our clients.

Our initial concerns were:

  • How do we keep everyone employed?
  • What care and support do we need to provide to protect our health and welfare?
  • How do we join accountability and care together?
  • How do we continue to create a positive team culture and trust whilst working remotely from one another?
  • How do we deal with unprecedented uncertainty for us and our clients?
  • What are our client’s concerns and challenges and what waves do they expect to ride for the foreseeable future? How can we best support them?

To address these concerns, we developed solutions that catered for all aspects of the organisation – including the rational (hard) and non-rational (soft) elements. McKinsey’s Seven-S tool (pictured) highlights the importance of creating shared value across the organisation, and this was a particular focus for TMS as the team transitioned to the working from home environment.

In creating the shared valued, TMS was cognisant of balancing the hard (strategy, structure, systems) and soft (skills, style, staff) elements. To achieve this balance, TMS implemented the following:

  • Put employment and staff engagement ahead of profits, and took a long-term survival perspective
  • Mapped the journey we were on and what levels of leadership and support were needed at each stage
  • Provided clear and transparent information to staff on our financial situation and discussed how we could all support business continuity
  • Focussed on vulnerability-based trust and shared our lived experiences, concerns and fears with one another
  • Loosened role boundaries, and extended everyone’s capability and capacity to work across all areas of the business
  • Adopted a ‘tight-loose-tight’ approach to accountability, setting clear expectations and outcomes but keeping autonomy and authority to act with our staff
  • Remained well connected with our clients, extended our support and co-created new solutions to unprecedented challenges, expanding our clients’ capability, agility and responsiveness – and our own!
  • Reflected on our experiences delivering virtually, including building group trust and cohesion, creating space for feelings and vulnerability, expending precious energy on the most pressing and important issues.

Our Big Catch:

As we reflected on the way we weathered the COVID storm, it was a no-brainer to adopt these practices into our business-as-usual rhythm as they have created a stronger, more engaged, agile and resilient team. The impact this has had on our business results is far beyond what we anticipated. Yes, we’ve had our share of losses in the last 12 months, but our recovery has been both humbling and exciting. We are energised about the opportunities that lay ahead for our business and our clients in 2021 and beyond.

If you would like help managing change in your organisation, contact TMS Consulting on solutions@tmsconsulting.com.au for a free initial consultation.

Sarah Austin
About the author

Sarah Austin

Sarah has been a qualified coach and learning and organisational development advisor to leaders and organisations for over fifteen years, bringing significant expertise to TMS clients. Her knowledge makes her a learning and development professional as well as and a trusted advisor on leadership, performance, change, talent, culture, and OD.