The pandemic has seen many businesses having to make rapid changes to their operations without the benefit of a change management plan. Amidst the ongoing uncertainty of a second Covid-19 wave, and with no end in sight, businesses must fight to stay afloat while also dealing with a raft of new challenges. The huge impact on the market will require businesses to carefully assess their operations and projects in light of a radically altered marketplace. In the meanwhile, Brexit and the IR35 reforms scheduled for April will also contribute to the need for operational changes in response to new legislation.
A recent study by LinkedIn showed that leaders are finding this to be one of the most challenging times in their careers. While many have detailed knowledge of their in-house operations and industry, the range of additional complex issues they must consider is unprecedented. Indicating the extent that many feel out of their depth, a quarter say they have experienced ‘imposter syndrome’ during this period. With uncertainty around Covid-19 causing anxiety among employees, 44% of leaders noted having to demonstrate more essential soft skills, such as empathy and emotional intelligence, while also acting decisively and at pace. For many, the challenges of leading virtually have added an extra element of difficulty.
In response to these new requirements, there’s been a sharp uptick in demand (25%) for management consultants and leadership coaches. As a result of their exposure to numerous organisations, management consultants are typically aware of industry best practices. They can provide organisational change-management assistance, development of coaching skills, process analysis, technology implementation, strategy development, or operational improvement services. Management consultants often bring their own frameworks to guide the identification of problems, and to serve as the basis for recommendations with a view to more effective or efficient ways of performing work tasks.
Consultants have specialised skills on tasks that would involve high internal co-ordination costs for clients, such as organisation-wide changes or the implementation of new information technology. Their focus and experience in gathering information worldwide and across industries makes them a cost-effective option when it comes to large scale restructuring. Management consultants with coaching and mentoring skills can also provide senior leaders with a safe space to clarify their thinking and improve their performance in specific areas.
While the second wave of Covid-19 will have an impact, the more protracted the crisis, the greater the impact on the market. Businesses will need to undergo radical transformations in order to remain viable, with large scale systemic change overseen from the top. Many internal managers will simply not have the relevant breadth of experience to action this effectively. This means that the best chance for many businesses to emerge from the Covid-19 crisis with a viable operational model will involve the use of external consultants and their deep reservoirs of knowledge.
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