Managing companies post-COVID

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BY  Joseph Brian Madhimba
THE business environment post-COVID will be radically different for managers and workers.

The traditional causes of volatility being political, economic, social and technological as well as globalisation and lop-sided trading patterns between rich and poor countries, will be there, but in a much more accelerated and acute form.

In addition, new change drivers will emerge necessitating a paradigm shift and new skills on the part of management and workers.

Natural disasters

The COVID-19 Pandemic has caused drastic changes in workplaces including retrenchments, as well as reduced salaries and company revenues.

Workers have gone through a lot because of COVID-19. They have been traumatised and lost their sense of belonging to the company. They are anxious and feel isolated. Because of these reasons, managers will have to be more humanistic, empathetic and sympathetic in the management of human resources.

The Pandemic is still with us and similar pandemics cannot be ruled out

The future

Other natural disasters, for example earthquakes, floods, cyclones and wild fires caused by global warming will be permanent phenomena in the future.

Man-made disasters

The company manager of the future will have to learn how to manage in the face of man-made disasters such as wars.

He/she should have knowledge of geo-politics and its effects on business.

Geopolitical developments will continue to impact businesses. A case in point is Russia’s war in Ukraine which has caused global food and fuel prices to sky rocket due to disruptions of supply chain networks.

With Russia accused of deliberately torching grain fields in Ukraine, the food crisis does not look like ending any time soon.

Whenever that war ends, its knock-on effects will continue to be felt for a long time to come.

The world must also brace for the possible emergence of Kagameism in another region of the world. Rwanda, under President Kagame, has reportedly destabilised neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and is being accused of looting its mineral resources — with impunity.

Rwanda’s alleged destabilisation of Congo has created a deluge of Congolese refugees in the Great Lakes region.

A humanitarian catastrophe of that magnitude in another region of the world would cause huge economic and social problems.

The company manager of the future should have “a nose” for such man-made disasters and figure out ways of hedging his/her company.

 Future worker

The future will require workers who are versatile i.e. with many skills (multiskilling), as well as workers who are technologically savvy so they can leverage technology to get competitive advantages for their companies.

Reskilling and upskilling will be key to boosting worker confidence and productivity.

Issues of diversity

Because of globalisation, in the future companies will have increased numbers of workers from minority groups. These have to feel protected in terms of xenophobia, hate speech, prejudices, stereotypes and remuneration.

So, the managers of the future will be required to have a sense of cultural tolerance and fairness. In other words, organisational justice will be a key management concern.

In conclusion, for companies to thrive in the future, there will have to be more integration of the well-being of employees into the workplace. It will be incumbent on managers to encourage despondent and jittery workers to imagine and pursue new possibilities in their companies.

  • Joseph Brian Madhimba (PhD) is a business and financial markets expert. He is a former head of Radio and TV News at ZBC