Nataliia Popovych

Nataliia Popovych, founder of the group of companies One Philosophy

When do you think we will be able to return to the “new normalcy” after quarantine and what will it be like?

I believe that our understanding of “new normalcy” will be constantly changing, so it will not be a static phenomenon.  In the nearest two-three years we will live like in turbulence, connected with the availability of vaccines, the desire to be vaccinated, new strains of the virus possible emergence, new waves of quarantine or lockdown. We will just get used to it. We can see that in the last year companies and businesses have already been through some experience and become more resilient. The aspect of resilience needs to be put into management focus and often measured to see how much the companies are ready for the crises, whether they have a tried and tested plans for different life events. The focus on resilience helps us to learn how to react on different situations in future, foresee them and be ready for them.

For example, in our company, “One Philosophy”, following our first in Ukraine study of organization resilience, we have developed a tool for measuring resilience – Resilience Radar, which allows you to look at business on six criteria: values, mission, team vision, adaptability to changes, innovation, high-quality (or not) the client’s way of organization and the quality of customer relations and the brand or reputation strength, etc. All these components interact and help us to understand if the company is resilient or not. If, during such a study, organizations find a weaker link and work at it, they will be ready for any reality that comes.

Is the idea and philosophy of resilience inherent for our companies?

The organizations come to changes and understanding in a variety of ways.

It seems to me that over the past year, all organizations have realized that without employees and care for them business even can’t “move on”, not to speak about prosper.

Without people nobody can turn into reality his/her business dreams. The pandemic has made us realize that if we don’t take care of our workers today, who will work for us tomorrow?

Quarantine has a negative effect on people, they often feel tired and irritated. How to work with such people, what tools do you use?

Last year we all were tested on the limits of our personal resilience and mental health. The situation was also stirred up by the fact that the quarantine lasted during the religious holidays and we were limited in traveling during our days off. Many people reacted very negatively on the physical restrictions of their freedom and inability to travel. I am not speaking about violation of normal family life, when parents had to work and at the same time spend more time with their children than usual.

  At the end of last year, my team and I reflected. We discussed the questions such as: What would we like to let go? What irritated and tired us? We even gave these reflections in small groups some names: “What we want to leave in 2020″ and “What we want to enter 2021 with.” To do this, we divided the employees into teams of 8-9 people, in which they, even if it was online, but had the opportunity to share their pains. There were many consensus views, many dissenting opinions. This is the benefit of the reflections, which we all neglected before the pandemic.

We started a new year with boosting one of our values of self-awareness, because we understand that we will have to work in a hybrid format for a long time, and there will always be many challenges around.
We read new books and mulled over them, started meditation classes, held every Monday morning. This helped to get relieved during the gray winter, because for many people Monday was a very difficult day. My colleagues and I also started a training program which is an interpretation of Bob Johansen’s meta-skills (Bob Johansen developed a strategy for effective response to company’s risks. – editor). A few years ago I began to research the skills of the future according to his concept, which explains the importance of being able to work with paradoxes, whipping into a fear, realizing how much my actions are harmonious with what the organization offers me. Regarding these topics, in the summer we will have 5-6 seminars, where the whole team will work on these meta-skills.

We also have “Wednesday learning session”. These are two-hour reflections or joint trainings, which take place every Wednesday.
For many people the pandemic has become an impetus to reevaluate people’s knowledge and realize the need for constant development and learning. We all know that in the past people could study for 4 years for Bachelor’s degree and then work for 40 years in this profession, but now every four years it is necessary to pass a test after some advanced training and learning new skills at the same time.

Looking back and having business experience during the pandemic, what three tips would you have given yourself at the beginning of quarantine?
It is very important to stay calm while going through the changes. We didn’t panic. Looking back on those steps we made, I can see that we have acted in the right way just we shouldn’t have worried so much. I would also have taken much easier those policies which the organization should change while switching to remote work. We quickly said goodbye to the part of the office as far as we understood that it would be unnecessary for a long time because of social distance and safety issues. We also distributed our office furniture to employees so that people could work from home. Now it seems obvious, because people need to be provided with an office at home, but a year ago it seemed a bit strange, because you do not make such decisions every day when you need to create 60 smaller offices from one big office. Perhaps even faster thinking up of such small even logistical solutions could have reduced the stress and anxiety that workers felt.

From my previous experience during the crises I knew that crises always show and strengthen the team, although, a great appreciation and understanding of this would also have made some decisions easier.

Another important tip is communication. It is never too much, and the things that seem obvious to us, are never obvious to others. So we had daily leadership meetings, discussions with the heads of agencies about the changes and approval of new rules. I think that at the beginning of the pandemic the amount of communication with the wider One Philosophy team should have been increased even more, more frequently organize nonspontaneous spontaneous meetings, so then people might have had an easier time.

How do you think the “employer-employee” relationship will change in post-pandemic times?
For some businesses, this relationship will be an even more dramatic change than they think, especially if their relationship has been enshrined according to “employer-employee” cliché.

Now managers need a so-called “new humane agreement” with their employees, where they see more human beings in them and treat them as integral partners. It will work out because in the organizations that create big brands employees will become co-creators and influence further development.

Yes, these people will set certain rules of the game in the organization. It will be possible to monitor their decisions, to see who really cares about business common interests, and who in the team is only a freelancer or separate player. Instead, if the employer and employees have a productive relationship, organizations in this chaotic world will be able to be innovative, easily adapt and find new interesting services for customers, multiply new customers, which will be the key to success. I am glad that Gary Hemel and Michele Zanini’s book “Humanocracy” was published in Ukrainian this year. In this book Ukrainian managers can find many interesting recipes on how to unlock creativity in their organization, but in order to do that most of them will have to move away from the traditional Ukrainian management bureaucracy, from long distance between the manager and the ordinary worker, culture of control (instead of trust) and other unsuccessful practices. They should be left in the past.

What new quarantine habits would you like to take with you into the future?

I would like to continue to use such a new habit as “measuring the temperature” – to ask employees more often about what they lack, what they need, whether certain actions make sense.

This habit to ask and correct the strategy or practice, depending on the answers, is extremely important. The next skill, which, as I hope, will become a habit, will be the ability to regularly get rid of unnecessary things.

Last year we made a “cleaning”, we got rid of everything that is not used anymore. These could be unnecessary offices, procedures, products which are not relevant anymore. We will also cultivate a habit to communicate spontaneously, because our employees really need that.

I also believe that the pandemic strengthen the intended need to make experiments and create something new constantly: from the research “Resilient” to Resilience Radar, to newly created during the pandemic new practice of consulting on the quality of medical services in Ukraine, which is necessary habit for our future. 

What new values, traditions of corporate culture and work with people will we see in the world that defeated COVID-19?
We have recently conducted “Gradus” survey, where it was found out that 44% of Ukrainians lack humanity and almost 30% lack respect. The pandemic has shown how the lack of attention towards people in their companies is a counterproductive method. Every manager and every team should strive to change that. We must learn to say “thank you”, to give correct feedback, to hear each other and to respect personal boundaries.I am convinced that we cannot be a successful society if we are united by only one value of freedom, which is dominant for Ukraine. We need a mixture of different values for resilient culture. Until there is no combination of freedom, responsibility, humanity and equality in Ukraine, we will suffer, but if we balance our values, we will prosper


                                                                                            The speaker was Sofia Opatska