Navigating the return to a new normal

by Dr Gav Schneider03 Aug 2020

Leading up to the pandemic, the mortgage broking industry faced a string of challenging issues, from banking royal commissions to bushfires, which highlights the reality that a return to ‘the old normal’ is probably unlikely.

The default realities of the fourth industrial revolution, which we are in right now, combined with globalisation and many other intersecting aspects of the market, mean that we are probably a long way off from the relative stability we enjoyed over the last few years.

In looking at a return to a new normal, there are two overarching considerations that are useful to consider. The first is the internal consideration – how have our own business, staff and related aspects been affected? The second is the external consideration – how have our clients, prospective clients, regulators and the supply chain been aff ected?

Let’s start with the internal. It is crucial that navigating a return to the new normal should start with a personal reflection on your own position – not just from a business and financial perspective, but also from a mental and physical health perspective.

If you manage teams or run your own business, it’s important to remember that the disruption caused by COVID-19 has had a significant effect on all of us. Even if we feel fine, it is recommended that we closely monitor our own status, as issues such as leadership fatigue, change fatigue and many other high-impact factors can cause significant secondary disruption and potential damage later on.

Once you are comfortable with your own state and feel strong, remember that these impacts have aff ected everyone in different ways, so staff and suppliers need to be handled with a level of empathy and understanding that, at times, may not seem warranted when we take into account the excitement of getting back to business.

While nobody has a crystal ball, one thing is for sure: in times of instability, people lean on trusted advisers and value them more than they would in times of stability

The next consideration is a solid review  of your business and teams’ internal working processes, systems and outputs. While COVID-19 has disrupted many sectors, some disruptions – such as more flexible work options, or expanding service footprints by offering virtual services – present great opportunities. Don’t focus on simply trying to get back to where you were prior to COVID-19.

Try to develop a focus on presilience*, which is simply defined as ‘proactive resilience’ and is focused on the principal approach of ‘bouncing back better’. The return to a new normal is a great opportunity to build individual, team and business presilience that might not have existed or been a focus pre-COVID-19.

The next consideration is external factors. Many of you will remember the instability and challenges of the GFC and the tough times it led to. While nobody has a crystal ball, one thing is for sure: in times of instability, people lean on trusted advisers and value them more than they would in times of stability.

So, when it comes to clients and external stakeholders, try to foster the mindset and attitude of being a trusted adviser. This means focusing on the human and service elements of interactions and not just their transactional nature – i.e. who could get me the best rate, compared to who actually cares about helping me? While both are important, the human aspect is now critical.

As with the internal considerations, the recovery phase we are entering now  creates opportunities to strengthen supply chains and simplify and embed compliance issues that might have been worrying you pre-COVID-19 – it’s a chance to build back systems and relationships so they are better and stronger. It’s important to remember that everyone externally has also been impacted by COVID-19, and the prospect of focusing on a partner-based approach (in which the critical aspects of your supply chain are nurtured and relationships are enhanced as we build back) is a great opportunity.

Accepting that the world will not be the same again from the perspective of both opportunities and threats can be empowering. COVID-19 and other crises have shown us that disruptive events that are out of our control can truly hurt or help us, and they manifest at a rate that is quicker than non-agile, compliance-centric systems can respond to.

No matter how much we want to get back to where we were, we should pause and think about what could be done better, both internally and externally. As we navigate the new normal, we should focus on a presilience-based approach that will strengthen weaknesses and capitalise on strengths. Making presilience your default setting, and focusing internally and externally simultaneously, will better enable you to cope with disruption while equally allowing you to capitalise on opportunities as they present.

*Presilience is a registered trademark of the Risk 2 Solution Group and is used here with permission.

Dr Gav Schneider, CEO and academic director, Risk 2 Solution GroupDr Gav Schneider
CEO and academic director,
Risk 2 Solution Group