Resource deployment is a challenge for organizations under the best of circumstances, let alone during a pandemic. However, the COVID-19 crisis presents an opportunity to rethink how well you are optimizing resources and allocating budgets to the teams, products and services that keep your business running. After all, resource deployment today may need to be completely different tomorrow—pandemic or no pandemic, the pace of change isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
According to a 2016 article by McKinsey, dynamic resource allocation refers to shifting money, talent and management attention to the areas that deliver the most value to an organization.
Eighty-three percent of surveyed senior executives identified dynamic resource allocation as the top management lever for spurring growth. When McKinsey crunched the numbers, the firm found that within 20 years, companies that dynamically reallocate resources are worth twice as much as their less agile counterparts. Yet, a third of surveyed companies reallocated just 1 percent of their capital from year to year; "the average is 8 percent," McKinsey reported.
Now, more than ever, businesses need to be agile and require redeployment of staff, skills and funds. Since you may have a steep learning curve and a short timeframe, these actions might prove helpful.
1. Examine current performance in context.
Assess how well your business is doing during the current crisis. Ask yourself: Are there certain revenue streams that have dramatically slowed? Perhaps a product is now in high demand. How might you redeploy resources to keep your business goals on track?
Mark McCullough is CEO of Gebrüder Weiss, a global freight forwarder with a core business of overland transport, air and sea freight, and logistics. At the helm of the world's oldest transport company with a history that dates back more than 500 years, McCullough found his business upended by COVID-19.
“We tracked that certain offices were experiencing major declines in orders and total closures while other branches were having a major increase in critical, expedited shipments requiring much more attention and care than general cargo movements,” McCullough says. “Using remote and virtual collaboration tools, we have redeployed teams experiencing a downturn to the aspects of our business that are overloaded.”
Dynamic resource allocation should map back to your business' overarching goals.
“We gained consensus as a leadership team and board to identify three strategies to ensure the survival of the business and the confidence of our people,” says Laura Cooper, senior vice president of people at retail software firm Bluecore. “Our redeployment efforts did not prioritize one team over another, as all our departments drive revenue and contribute to the identified strategies."
2. Shore up your skills.
Crisis-related redeployment involves understanding the skills and attributes of every employee in your workforce. You might use a skills matrix to track these. Displayed in table format, a skills matrix notes people's proficiency in required skills and their interest in working on related projects.
You can also gather your leaders for a “resource swap.”
Trust your people to adjust and handle tasks that may not be their daily norm. We’ve all proven to be rather adaptive in recent weeks!
—Mark McCullough, CEO, Gebrüder Weiss
“My leadership team got together and assessed where our needs were the greatest and who had the skills to address them,” says Karyn Schoenbart, CEO of marketing research firm NPD.
“We stopped activities like internal evaluations and regular business reviews and redeployed those teams to focus on things that add value to clients today. We’ve temporarily moved people from some business practices which are down to other areas like our in-home eating practice which is up. Instead of letting our recruiters go because we aren’t hiring externally right now, we are having them help us with this internal matchmaking,” Schoenbart says.
3. Communicate vision and trust.
Effective crisis communication requires providing frequent updates and clear roadmaps for employees to follow.
“Be radically transparent and explain your strategic vision to the greater organization. Don’t spin or skirt around the difficult impacts of these decisions,” suggests Cooper. “It’s important to fully educate the organization not just on the what and how, but also on the why. This approach increases trust, engagement and commitment, which directly impacts operational excellence.”
Use COVID-19 as an opportunity to redeploy resources in creative new ways and iterate as you go along. Framing cross-company moves as an experiment or trial that’s short-term may increase your employees’ comfort level.
When redeploying, talk to affected individuals first before announcing the broader change, and invite them to ask questions and share concerns. Above all, be tolerant and demonstrate to employees that you value and appreciate their contributions.
“Trust your people to adjust and handle tasks that may not be their daily norm. We’ve all proven to be rather adaptive in recent weeks!” adds McCullough.
COVID-19 is undoubtedly a curve ball for businesses, but the dynamic resource allocation experiences it is prompting are invaluable. If done effectively, the actions you take today could leave your organization better prepared to adapt to change in the future.
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