1-The problem in question here is all three related to human factors i.e. resistance to change, motivational and most important lack of leadership skills or ability to take initiative in times of crisis or respond to an emergency. The prevailing scenario in 24x7 power solutions company shows their lack of preparedness to an emergency situation and how the company's team of functional heads were caught napping. This is inspite of CEO Rupendra's repeated cautioning to his functional heads to prepare and put a proposed contingency plan before him as to how to manage different affairs seamlessly during adverse times, but they were unable to do so. Rupendra could visualise the disaster on the anvil. This also depicts lack of execution skills by the CEO in getting the work done from his team when it was the need of hour.
Another important factor to note here is resistance to change, coming out of your comfort zone & being prepared to do something that is never done before, accepting the new reality. This is evident by the fact that the ground level employees resisted all proposals and possibilities put forward for discussion either by functional heads or HR heads on how to move forward. The employees were not mentally prepared or ready to accept to meet the challenges of servicing and neutralising the complaints of customers.
The CEO had foresight. He yearned to make an opportunity out of this challenge and test the company's strengths by continuing minimum required service function and also keeping the employees safe. The CEO had considered the needs & expectations of all his stakeholders. CEO wanted his team look at societal responsibility also. Their customers were residential societies, govt. and private hospitals, important Govt. offices, industries etc… But alas this fell on deaf ears to his team.
2- The organisation has slipped into comfort zone mode. This can be clearly seen by the number of problems that surfaced on day one of lockdown. Also Rupendra as the CEO was the only one talking of solutions. Rest of his team of functional heads were only interested in discussing their problems with no solutions coming forth that which even the CEO was aware of. All they wanted was closing down everything thus be very comfortable and all wanted to sit at home.
The following measures should be taken by the CEO in terms of people engagement and enhancing their capabilities to act and lead in turbulent times:
a) Communicate to the employees that there will be no lay-off's thus easing out their panic situation and salary concerns & exhort them instead of working together to find solutions thereby keeping them engaged on hand for this temporary situation. Reactionary management is not strategic leadership. How 24x7 power solutions handle this COVID-19 situation will impact it's future people retention and ability to attract new talent. Loyalty is a two-way street. One get's judged on how they treat people in difficult times. It's easy to be good when times are good.
b) Support each employee in managing their mental and emotional health through compassion during this time. This is a very essential strategy here for people management both in short term and long term. Examples could include employees sharing their gratitude stories, experiences and how they are now feeling even more connected with their spouses and children.
Sharing a brief note might be helpful for other employees too. Get the employees to keep sharing the kindness they experienced!
c) Train his team of functional heads to not micromanage in these emergency times. Resist that. Keep working hours flexible.And this should be passed on to ground level employees as well.
d) Coach team members on working from home. Not Instruct.
e) Have one on one's and team meetings over video calls that will help staying engaged. Have informal engaging conversations wherever possible. Employee engagement during these times is the key here.
3-The following should be the current priorities of Rupendra moving forward:
a) Get a Business Continuity Plan Made Function-wise & communicate it to his team of functional heads. Can use ISO Standards Guidelines on business continuity as a reference/base to get a proper, well - drafted plan made that meets all requirements for business continuity for an organisation.
b) Implement measures function-wise as to what is the alternative solution e.g. provide solutions to customer complaints over phone or may be even use technologies like Whatsapp video calling and guiding customer what to do to the genset where there is a problem. It's like being present in virtual mode instead of physical mode.
c) Embrace virtual communication tools like Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, and Slack to communicate with the team daily when physical face to face meeting is not possible. To accept working remotely or from virtual offices as the new norm should be adopted. Communication with the team on day to day basis and guiding them, keeping them engaged, motivated in these times is very essential here.
d) Some sort of formal communication to the existing customers, suppliers, partners, vendors, transporters, etc… should also go either from the CEO or from functional heads desk assuring them of steps taken In case of emergency. This will ease anxieties of all stakeholders concerned. A formal communication can also be put up on website of the organisation and that which can be updated regularly.
e) Setup emergency contact nos. or details as whom to reach out in these times and make sure that this information is easily available/communicated to all including to its customers & suppliers.
f) Use planning tools for task allocation and tracking.
g) Get HR to frame guidelines on working from home, routine matters like how to report attendance while working from home, how will leaves be considered during this period, etc… By doing this, it will once again assuage employee concerns routine functioning & reporting and as to what will happen to their salary.