legacy companies surviving pandemic

What You Can Learn From Legacy Companies About Surviving the Pandemic

It’s not easy for legacy companies to ditch hierarchies but Pia Lauritzen, cofounder of Qvest, a technology company that developed a platform for ensuring strategic alignment, said Carlsberg has created an environment where each worker has the autonomy to act in different situations. Carlsberg is a legacy company that Lauritezen frequently brings up for its ability to transform from using effective age-old strategies to unconventional and adaptive methods to counter the impact of Covid-19. 

Legacy businesses are businesses that are more than 50 years old, have well-established brands and market positions, employ more than 5,000 people, and are spread out around the world.

As Lauritzen worked with the European multinationals during the pandemic, she shares her observations on common shifts in attitude that affected the way they formulated strategies to counter the challenges the pandemic has brought.

Mindset shift from implementation to integration

Many companies adopt a hierarchical workforce where business executives from the top share the responsibility of creating strategies and those that follow are responsible for executing them. It’s easy for senior leaders to place blame on the implementation. But have they dared to think the cause of implementation lapses is rooted in poorly developed strategies? The pandemic has called for more dynamic strategies where feedback is constantly valued as an architect of flexibility. 

A family-owned entertainment company always made the clear distinction between strategy development and strategy execution prior to the pandemic. As the pandemic struck the business realm, the company gave its team who was responsible for maintaining organizational agility to ensure the execution of what senior management thought were best-fit strategies as a response to the health crisis. The team discovered that most of the company’s employees were creating their own initiative as soon as they found out that the directives were causing delays in their everyday tasks. 

The team quickly took note of the feedback and asked management to develop strategies that can be integrated into employees’ everyday tasks.

Tech shift from answer-data to question-data

According to Digital in the Round, 76% of employees are using videoconferencing in remote work. By now, the businesses that have survived the height of the pandemic are currently using some form of telecommunication. However, many don’t consider telecommunication tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet enough to support strategic discussions.

Lauritzen encourages business executives to go beyond the generic questionnaires that don’t provide in-depth insights from employees. Instead, they encourage employees to ask questions and gather and analyze them so that businesses can devise strategies that support employee autonomy.

Focus shift from communication to conversation

Old-school business practice dictates that when the worst circumstances arrive, waiting for communication from the top management is assumed to be the next step. But companies who had a positive shift in mindset didn’t turn solely to management for decision-making. They started to allow employees to engage in strategic conversations with each other. This helps give business leaders a better understanding of the company’s current needs and situation in the pandemic.

An example of shifting from communication to conversation is how global mobility leaders and human resource managers are redesigning learning programs for their workforce. Rather than having one-to-many communication, employee-to-employee conversation helps drive an organization-wide learning initiative.

Culture shift from feedback to transparency

Feedback has been a long-debated business strategy. Many argue that feedback is a key indicator of how employees respond to directives done by management. However, employees in today’s age require transparency from company leaders apart from demanding to voice out their feedback. 

Now, businesses have seen the need to create spaces where back-and-forth conversations can be done so data from these questions and answers can be analyzed to craft holistic strategies. Employees, just as much as senior executives, play a huge role in strategy development.

Leadership shift from formal to informal actions

Pia Lauritzen discovered that breaking the norms of formal activities from leadership was a common topic among the three European multinationals she’s working with. These forward-thinking companies are reconsidering their approach to gaining insights from their employees. They’re eyeing on questions with less predetermined answers in a more personal manner that allows employees to engage with one another about issues they’re encountering with management’s decisions.

A legacy company she was working with experienced this shift as soon as it discovered that its strategic transformations had overwhelmed its employees. As the company shifted to a more organization-integrated model, one of the executive leaders who spearheaded these initiatives, observed that employees were unfortunately not adapting well to these transformations. 

While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy, companies ought to study how other businesses have survived the pandemic and put it into context within their own organizations. This will help provide businesses with data-driven solutions to common problems that other businesses are facing.