“I can’t go in today because I have a fever”. The fourth wave seems to be subsiding, but the beginnings of the fifth wave are already being felt. The combined waves of the flu and Omicron, the “flurona”, is on the attack. Phrases like this are now an almost daily occurrence in our lives. As a businessperson, as a responsible manager, we often do not know how we should react, not to mention how it is appropriate to react to these statements. Proactive managers are fed up with the constant fearmongering, even if the underlying reasons are real. They are increasingly of the opinion that this is a virus that humanity must learn to live with, as we have done so many times throughout history. The expectation is understandable, but what does this mean for business?
Different standards, different visions
We must be aware that there will, of course, be differences among, because we are different people. And people’s decision-making mechanisms are very much at the fore, which is a direct consequence of personality. We have to recognise that there are personality types who want to follow the crowd and who do need to be told what to do, because they cannot make decisions; they cannot take the responsibility of critical decisions. So their behaviour, their norms, are determined and shaped by external factors, and can therefore change from month to month. There are personality types who develop their own norms immediately, and no matter what happens, nothing influences them. They can make firm decisions, and even if the decision is not the best one, they stick to their original position. This does not make them better or worse than their peers; they are simply coded differently. There are also those who try to gather very serious amounts of data and information – often losing themselves in the big data hunt – because they are striving for the perfect solution. They are lost because there seems to be no perfect solution. Although there is a light at the end of the tunnel, we are a long way from shouting that we know everything. And then, of course, there are those people who are fed up with the rules and have now reached the point where they are willing to take unreasonable risks to get out of the COVID prison. If I add that the four personality traits I have just mentioned can be broken down into trillions of variations by further subgroups, we can see that a lot of norm systems will be built in the coming period, often in total disharmony with each other. But why is all this important for a successful businessperson in 2022?
The key to success: cooperation
It’s a trite slogan, but very true for the recovery period of the current crisis. It is the manager who will succeed, the business that can grow, the business that can move forward, that understands that acceptance and cooperation are now more important than ever. The one who does not just pretend, but puts in the concrete effort to understand his fellow human beings with different ways of thinking, to accept their ways of thinking – even if they do not agree with it – and to find common ground, which can be combined to create cooperation. This cooperation is true for the smallest unit, even a team of five people within a large corporate organisation, but it is also true for a manager-to-manager relationship, or even for a corporate organisation of hundreds of thousands of people. The recovery from the COVID-19 crisis in business does not happen by itself, nor can it be implemented through centralised economic solutions. Of course, the latter can speed up the process considerably, but without people-to-people cooperation, there is no chance of real success, and for that, we need a more honest environment. Although all this sounds very idealistic, this is really a situation where I do not just have to say that I am interested in my colleagues, but I really need to know what is going on around them, what thoughts and decision-making processes are going on in their minds, because without concrete information, it will not work. Nobody will take the risk of going to work even in a mask if there is no concrete, real value. No one will even take a simple handshake if the person is not really important to them. Some of the hypocrisy is disappearing from our lives, and this has a significant impact on employer-employee relations. We need to be aware that if we want to get colleagues, members of our team, members of our organisation to work and perform, then the “same old, same old” before the virus will not be enough. People are not going to move just because the boss will be displeased. But a significant proportion of people are willing to change their norms if they get important human connections and a real vision in return. Many employers have been surprised, and many more will be surprised in the future when they find out what employees really think about the workplace, whether they really feel comfortable and whether they really stick to the status quo. And, of course, let’s not forget the positive side of things, where the employer gets a very optimistic experience week after week, as they see the loyalty of their colleagues. It makes a big difference if a colleague on the “I’ve got a fever, I’m not coming in” phone call is genuinely sorry and uncomfortable because they have let their company down, and the manager has to tell them that this is a situation where they have to deal with themselves. Perhaps it comes across clearly in the conversation that you have absolutely no interest in the company fallout because you’re fed up with the whole thing anyway, and the boss has to grimly accept the fact.
A two-faced situation is beginning to emerge in employer-employee relations as the second year of the virus situation draws to a close. A number of market participants report that they have been able to deepen relations with their employees over the past two years to the extent that they had not anticipated during such difficult times. And the majority of the market is at a loss to know how much of the facts are excuses and how much of them are true, and of course, they cannot express this fear, as they would be stoned on the spot for their selfishness and lack of empathy. Although we are always saying that this crisis is different from the others, when you look at the outcome, it is the same as the previous ones. It gives a clear picture. And of course, there are those who don’t like the clear picture and those who love it.