While we’ve still got a long road ahead, it seems that we may be seeing the beginnings of light at the end of the coronavirus tunnel, at least on the health front. The impact of this crisis truly cannot be overstated, but we must be resilient and take strategic steps to forge a path forward. Those of us who are still employed owe it to those who have suffered unexpected losses of income to respond swiftly and smartly to rebuild what’s been lost. Towards this end, it’s time for more companies to capitalize on the power and potential of employee task forces.
Many business leaders at this point are dealing with rampant mixed messages and a long list of Catch-22s. The most pressing instance of course, is that in order to keep their companies alive and well, employees need to come back to work. However, in order to keep employees alive and well, they need to stay at home. As we start to envision what the new normal will look like, executives would do well to remember that they have a seldom-used secret weapon to draw upon: employee task forces.
Once we’ve managed to curb the rampant spread of the virus, there will be many deliverables to meet all at once. While a number of them will need to be spearheaded by executive leadership, there will be quite a few others that employees can help move forward. For instance, companies that were forced to furlough and/or layoff employees may have to bounce back from a culture deficit depending on how the cuts were handled. Others may be attempting to redesign an antiquated telework policy, while still others will be looking to restructure part or all of their organization as a result of the changes the pandemic brought with it. All of these are areas where it’s not just helpful for employees to weigh in, but imperative.
Developing effective task forces shares some of the same steps as developing effective employee resource groups, which we wrote about here. It’s important for there to be both buy-in and strategic vision from the top, so that the ideas and plans the task force devises actually get implemented. Accordingly, some form of executive sponsorship will help ensure that the team has the leverage they need to get things done. If you can’t find a high-level colleague to champion the task force, it is a clear sign that the objective in question isn’t important enough to the organization to warrant employees’ time at this point. Nothing is a bigger morale killer than having people spend time on something that immediately gets shelved, so do your due diligence upfront to ensure that you’re setting employees up for success.
Beyond having high-level support and engagement, it’s important to recruit the right mix of people to drive your task force. For starters, it is crucial for the task force to be comprised of folks from a variety of different departments so they can socialize the group’s progress across the company. Additionally, members should be dynamic and active players within the broader organization who are excited about the work to be done and prepared to share their passion with their colleagues. Front line managers will likely have the highest motivation to make changes as they feel they will benefit their employees, but make sure the selected individuals are respected leaders who can rally the troops. Change is hard and uncomfortable for most employees, so without charismatic leaders to communicate the value and importance of the new initiatives while simultaneously calming fears, the task force’s work may be met with resistance and fail to gain traction.
Just as with your ERGs, employee task forces can drive positive change within your organization from the bottom-up, as long as the right supports are put in place. As we head into a new, post-outbreak era, it is time to move away from fully top-down, authoritarian processes and give employees the autonomy they’ve been seeking. Assemble and empower employee task forces to help you build a healthier, more successful organization coming out of this crisis.
If you’re intrigued by the idea of employee task forces to help grow and improve your organization, we encourage you to check out Workrowd as a way to launch and manage your various groups. We’ve got all the tools your employees need to collaborate, along with administrator settings for you and analytics to give you ongoing insight into the process. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.