Fear of change is natural but we owe it to our communities to overcome it says Jacqui Taylor
We find ourselves in a time when the work we’re doing as a sector is at its most critical – we’re Never More Needed. We have a real opportunity to reach and support more people, but the one thing we can all count on right now is that everything will keep changing. And rapid, unpredictable change is something many of us fear most.
Lockdown has meant that few businesses can afford to operate in the way they used to. Across the sector, we’ve seen some innovative and heart-warming approaches to overcome obstacles and support communities. However, have we considered that these new approaches may become the norm? How can we deliver services in a changing world using technology? Is this the time to review and potentially change our business models? Is our business model resilient enough to recover from the impact of the pandemic now and in the future? How do we support our staff wellbeing?
Those are just some questions that every third sector leader should be asking themselves NOW if we are to recover and thrive in a new world post-pandemic – and let’s not forget about the potential impact of Brexit. We need to evolve and adapt our businesses if we are to survive in a new world.
Realising the new world would be forced upon us by the external environment; at Lifelink we believed this was the right time to review our business model, refresh our structure, streamline processes, find new ways of working, uplift business-critical specialist capabilities and provide a foundation from which to develop new products/services supporting entry into new markets and geographies during and post-pandemic.
We believe that transformational change, building on the strength of our brand, our reputation and our people will enable us to deliver financial sustainability and create innovation in our service delivery channels.
In March 2020, we not only moved our counselling and support service all online, supporting our clients by telephone or video call, we developed a range of new webinar wellbeing workshops, and introduced a helpline to provide a light touch listening ear for people struggling with the isolation of lockdown who may not feel they needed counselling but certainly needed someone to talk to. None of this would have been possible without the willingness, flexibility, creativity, initiative and team spirit, a team that I am incredibly proud to lead.
In July 2020, to build on our success to date we embarked on an eight-month transformational change programme with 12 colleagues from across all areas of our business that we’ve called Way to Go.
Despite our success, we have struggled with capacity and specialist capabilities at a senior level and we’ve been stretched to breaking point at times. We also have an aspirational strategic plan to deliver on. So, at a time where businesses are seeing mass redundancies, we found ourselves recruiting four additional specialist director positions to support HR, Business Development, Finance, and Planning and Performance and yes, this does feel a bit surreal.
Did I worry about what could go wrong transforming our business and creating four new senior posts during a time of uncertainty and a global pandemic? Absolutely. But, I was more excited about what could go right and the opportunities it would bring.
We need to be brave as leaders who are not afraid to fail and try new approaches and ways of working.
We also need to be strong, compassionate, confident and think and plan for the longer term. It’s a tough gig, so don’t forget to be kind to yourself along the way.
Jacqui Taylor is speaking at SCVO's next Never More Needed webinar, Embracing change through challenging times, on 26 November at 12.30pm.