Wednesday 6 May 2020


Posted by
James Dalton

The May issue of People Management – appropriately titled “Apart, Together” – is both a fascinating read and down-to-earth celebration of critical change being driven and managed at this tumultuous time.

From EasyJet and Virgin redeploying airline workers to NHS hospitals, to Waterstones strengthening engagement across a 94% furloughed workforce, managers and teams have stepped up enormously at a time of real emergency. As Yvonne Foster, head of resourcing at Co-op, so succinctly puts it, the world right now is a place where “you have to think differently, you have to be creative – and you have to be agile”. The people function across UK plc certainly appears to be achieving all that.

For businesses charged with keeping the food chain, financial system or energy pipeline running, it’s been a time of reinvention rather than locking down. Having worked in 24/7 global logistics myself, I was particularly struck by the crucial realignments performed by David Frost, organisational development director of Total Produce plc, at one of the world’s largest fresh produce providers; as well as the way CPO Matt Elliot and his team at Bank of Ireland have managed to balance the need of supporting customers with the safety of employees. Cadent Gas, the country’s biggest gas distributor, has change managed heroically too, delivering an undisrupted service under the careful watch of CPO Martin Rimmer.

The footprint of the last five weeks will doubtless form part of most organisation’s onward journey, not least as grasping the nettle to lead and manage change is a catalyst in itself. But when does letting that genie out of the bottle become a genuine transformation? The third dimension of change – getting it to ‘land’ in people’s minds, actioned in their behaviours and reflected
in the company’s culture – is often the least successful part of the curve. It’s a key focus in our Leading, Managing and Landing Change Workshop as without that ‘landing’, change simply doesn’t stick and never realises its full potential – and in some cases people revert back to how things used to be.


At PeopleStory, we’ve long understood this natural ‘togetherness’ of transformation. All of our learning experiences are based on Engaging, Enabling and Empowering, because people will accept, drive and embed change if they feel part of the process, if they can help shape the change and if they are equipped to land it. Bring those threads together – and evaluate on a regular basis – and you’ll transform.

As lockdown eases and the shape of the new normal emerges, the imperative for immediate action will give way to calmer reflection. Naturally, there’ll be a synthesis of learning based on what’s worked, what can be improved and where the light shining back at us is coming from. If you reach for that light by engaging, enabling, empowering and evaluating, you’ll achieve genuine transformation.


James Dalton, Head of Learning & Engagement, PeopleStory.



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