Change management in times of crisis: 3 key steps

Change management in times of crisis: 3 key steps

The crisis caused by the pandemic presents an unprecedented challenge for everyone, especially for Human Resources professionals and team leaders. Change Management becomes an extremely valuable resource that can help understand and anticipate the impact on the organization, maintain the efficiency and motivation of people, and establish agile remote work practices.

The challenge of COVID-19


The crisis caused by COVID-19 has destabilized people and, consequently, the organizations that they comprise. Among its effects we can observe:

  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Concern
  • Uncertainty
  • Feeling of confinement
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Impotence and lack of orientation
  • Loss of control


In this context, we need to reinvent ourselves, unlearn and learn, adopting new habits, new ways of working that can help us become more efficient and productive. Human Resources leaders and teams have the difficult task of managing a crisis that is as unprecedented as difficult.

Why use Change Management tools?


How we handle this crisis impacts business not only in the present but also after its end. Therefore, it is important to manage the crisis not only to help us move through it now with the least possible impact but also because the future consequences of it depend on what we do and how we do it now.

The goal is to go through change with as little damage as possible in terms of culture, engagement and, of course, business. Because we know that the culture and the experience of employees have an important correlation with the level of productivity and business success.

Being responsive and managing the environment is essential. And Change Management tools can help us.

3 key steps of Change Management


 1. Measure

We know that the crisis is impacting us, but do we know how? Not all teams nor all people within the teams will be feeling the same way. The key is to understand the pain points not only from perception but from real data.

There are different methods to collect data and, therefore, be able to implement our resources to handle this crisis where they are really needed. 

At IMCG we conduct a survey of the organization’s reaction to the crisis.

This tool allows us to measure dimensions such as:

  •   Available resources,
  •   Leadership,
  •   Collaboration,
  •   Support level,
  •   Management reorganization,
  •   Agility


The result is the recollection of real data on issues related to two levels of analysis: at the individual or group level (the experience of the collaborators in this crisis) and, at the organization level, how the organization is responding to this crisis.

From this in-depth analysis, we manage to collect data from each dimension, detect new opportunities and, consequently, design Change Management actions.  


2. Design


At times like this, we need to respond quickly and use the resources we have effectively and efficiently.

There are different resources to design actions from Change Management. Among them, we can mention:

  • Communication,
  • Training (both “technical” and “soft” skills)
  • Coaching,
  • Recognition,
  • Resistance management,
  • Sponsorship (support for leaders and facilitators), among others.


The design and implementation of the change management actions must be carried out in short cycles (sprints) to impact the organization and the different groups as much as possible in the shortest possible time. Working with a Change Management Canvas for agile cycles is very useful for leaders and Human Resources teams to make these deployments.

We cannot wait to have the perfect solution, instead, we need to experiment and learn quickly. 


3. Learn Fast and Adjust


We need to face this challenge with agility,applying the following steps in an iterative way.

  • Measure the impact and reaction to our plans quickly and frequently,
  • Identify the evolution of these indicators and learn,
  • Make adjustments to improve the next cycle,
  • Repeat the cycle.

In summary


We have been helping organizations transform their culture and become more agile for years.

Today, more than ever, organizations need flexible cultures and change capability to respond to permanent change and crises, both internal or external.

Sometimes we are forced to change in an environment of difficulty and the challenge overwhelms us. This crisis will pass (hopefully soon)  and how we will get out of it also depends on our ability to respond now.

Perhaps, for many organizations, a great opportunity will arise. The opportunity to learn how to change constantly. Perhaps, it is the definitive drive to the true transformation that they have long sought.

Author: Carolina Sordelli

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