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Full speed ahead! Excellence in crisis management

16/06/2020 2020/06

VUCA-World - new chances for the work environment

On many different levels, the pandemic acted as an eye-opener and enabler. In contrast to the financial crisis of 2008/2009, all sizes of companies in a wide range of industries are affected - some even speak of a bottom-up crisis, as it affects not only the financially strong corporate giants, but also micro and small enterprises and our medium-sized businesses. What is true today may be outdated tomorrow, and never before has exponential growth been described more vividly than by the spread of a virus across borders. In a practical sense, we are now experiencing the often described VUCA world (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity) live and at first hand.

We organize work according to the circumstances.
The current situation is both a challenge and an impetus for change.

What are the key issues for companies as a result?

Apart from the uncertainty, it is above all the feeling of loss of control, but also the enormous complexity, which makes it impossible to act according to plan, as we know it from management books. Therefore, especially those companies that have already proven during the financial crisis which topics are important are a good approach. With the beginning of the strict lockdown, the move into the home office and the shutdown of most of our " everyday life", the situation has shown us in an impressive way the strengths, especially the weaknesses. Faltering business models continue to be pushed aside, a lack of liquidity results in the threat of insolvency, and the previously structurally determined stability is lifted from its hinges. For us, the following 4 aspects are now guiding the actions of managing directors, personnel departments and the entire company.

1. The personal mindset

Every employee, but much more importantly every entrepreneur, has the task of reflecting his or her own views and perception of the situation. Do I perceive everything as a challenge that cannot be overcome or do I recognize the opportunities that arise? How and what do I radiate into the company. Do I remain in a state of shock or do I inspire ideas, reaffirm creativity and strengthen the employees through the desire for self-initiative. How do I deal with the uncertainties, fears or additional burdens of colleagues. In many cases, the neutral view from outside helps to deal with individual issues. The support of a coach allows an examination of the personal situation, existing resources, competencies and possibilities. In the future it will depend on how well each individual deals with the complex, uncertain and at the same time volatile changes in the environment. Your own strengths and the confidence in those form the basis for this.

2. Risk Management & Strategic Decisions

There is no question that survival is the top priority for the founder, CEO and employees. The German government has launched various programs, promised immediate aid and loans - securing liquidity is the keyword here. Many companies have already been supported by these measures. However, to ensure long-term security, it is important to make decisions, develop scenarios and remain consistent in their implementation. Among the decisions addressed are also HR decisions that may have to be made. For all scenarios it should be noted at this point that there is an appropriate risk assessment in relation to the tasks. More important, however, is also the assessment of the remaining scope for potential business models, which could close completely if the reduction is too drastic or could even result if I now give the courage for freedom, creative development and trust.

We also had the ARTSgenda with long-term goals over a horizon of 5 years or longer. Last year we already rethought this structure, because we understand strategy differently today. In the past, strategy consisted of an elaborate analysis with long-term goals. Today, and especially in the current situation, we have a roadmap with goals that we are pursuing, but now we are taking even more advantage of the opportunities that arise for us every day. This is not an uncontrolled trial-and-error system, but is combined with a rapid qualification of opportunities. Just as much as reflection coupled with a common understanding of what we can do, where our strengths lie and where they don't. We have thus quickly learned to assess situation potential. With regard to a functioning and at the same time encouraging failure culture, we still have to learn more every day. A first suitable approach can also be developed by means of a transparent competence system, so that everyone is clear about what competences exist in the organisation. At the same time, with Extending your Success, we have created an identity that enables us to orient ourselves in the long term, because that is our driver and our motivation. We find solutions for the challenges that directly influence or acutely prevent success.

3. Accessible leading

Everyone shows a little more of themselves, their home office, their children and life outside work. The merging of these worlds remains a challenge that brings with it both positive and negative aspects. Managers can now strengthen relationships of trust by perceiving, appreciating and allowing people to "humanize" themselves as individuals within their own team. Communication is also essential in the leadership relationship. Currently, various everyday issues, such as childcare or the care of elderly family members, demand the attention of every employee, and only in a mutual exchange can fears, key issues and expectations be clarified. On both sides of this relationship it is important to communicate clearly, but also to create or concede understanding. The increased empathy ultimately pays off in the form of a consolidated team, which, with the developed relationship of trust, creates the basis for the joint achievement of objectives even in the home office or in separate work areas.

4. Re-Start

After the lockdown is before the re-start - some colleagues return from short-time work, increase the work share again because childcare starts or the home office is now accepted as a new permanent productivity location. All this has to be managed. With the sudden change in working methods, new processes were required and developed. Therefore, it is now necessary to restore the balance between before and after without loss of productivity. Without a clear path, focus on issues and consistent implementation of decisions made in advance, companies will get stuck in an in-between world that allows neither a step forward nor a step backwards. The break out of the crisis into a new "normality" characterized by fluctuations, uncertainties, complexity and ambiguity is already happening to many. In many areas - moving on, as in the past - is not possible. On the one hand the market demands changes, on the other hand the employees or even the economic situation of the company. Now it is necessary to look day by day where the journey is heading, to actively manage what is coming up, and to build the bridges that will carry us into the future. Modern work design, whether in the form of new digital processes with the latest tools, or in general in terms of cooperation and understanding how work is understood at all. This will be the challenge and opportunity of every single company.

We are also in this phase, we organize work according to the circumstances, and at the same time we do not want to let ourselves be driven by the situation, but actively work on the design. Flexibility already existed before, because optimization, transformation and change is already a tradition at ARTS and part of the daily reflection.

Each of the aspects described poses challenges, but also opportunities for a sustainable change in team-oriented work. If new topics, working methods and business areas have emerged, it is important and will be decisive how these are transferred into the "new normal".

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