How do you get the staff of a clean-energy supplier pandemic ready when they operate 24 hours a day at sites as diverse as Trinidad and Tobago, New Zealand, Egypt, Canada, USA, and Chile?
Trish Baylis, Vice President of Human Resources at Methanex Corporation told us they were already prepared. “Even though we had Global Pandemic Business Continuity Policy we’d had little if any occasion to put it into action”.
Methanex is the world’s largest producer and supplier of methanol, a clean-burning and economically viable alternative-energy solution that can provide fuel diversity and reduce emissions like sulphur oxide and nitrogen oxide.
For Trish and the Global Human Resources Team (GHRT) the key challenge was staying ahead of the curve before turning plans into action.
“Six weeks before the declaration of COVID-19 as a Global Pandemic, we communicated directly with our regional HR Leaders and ensured we got on the same page – that there was a consistent understanding of what needed to be done as preparation. There was a mix of experience and tenure across HR Leaders, and taking the time to build awareness and confidence was essential”.
Sonya Cowen, Winsborough lead for Methanex, was impressed by the foresight shown at Methanex. “It sounds simple, but making sure roles and responsibilities were clear, and a set of realistic actions and steps were in place was the most critical step in getting ahead of the curve.
Trish said that once full 'pandemic mode' hit the team felt well-positioned to respond to the urgent matters and stayed focussed.
Another challenge for a business with operations in 18 distinct locations across the globe was the need to maintain an overview. Gathering and reporting of information around Pandemic Risk Status, Active, Suspected, Monitored and Recovered COVID cases, and the categorisation of each instances was understandably difficult.
The GHRT identified very early on a need for “one-source-of-truth”. “We stood up a database for recording and reporting data across our organisation. It was refreshed and validated daily, with a status dashboard and presented for Corporate Crisis Management Team review and leadership reporting” says Trish.
In a corporate environment it’s not always easy to move fast. Relationships proved key. Trish noted that intensive early collaboration with key stakeholders quickly gained endorsement so LiveLink was commissioned and in-place within 10 days of moving into their highest Pandemic Risk Level. “We ran live tutorials with all HR regional leaders and LiveLink is an essential Covid-19 reporting tool”.
Communicate and Collaborate
Like many HR teams, the GHRT team initially met daily, responding immediately to urgent requests and planning for longer-term activities. Critically, they spent time agreeing overall role and purpose, and set priorities day-by-day. Trish also ensured she delegated. “We collectively agreed team priorities and assigned leadership to longer-term or complex tasks. Activities were monitored and reported on at each meeting (so necessary due to the fast-moving nature of the impact of COVID-19 on our organisation)”.
How has the Winsborough team helped in this journey?
In 2019, Methanex enlisted Winsborough's help to facilitate a face to face team alignment sessions to strengthen team dynamics and performance. “That work was a very thorough preparation for our meetings, so all team members fully understood our collective strengths and opportunities. Winsborough developed a bespoke session specifically targeting our desired outcomes for the team” said Trish.
"The Winsborough team delivered a very cohesive, simple and applicable foundation on which we could continue our team journey."
18 months on, we commissioned a short survey of the team, utilising the ROCKET model recommended by Winsborough to further drill down into progress, ongoing areas for a continuous improvement focus and a getting an overall sense of how the team was feeling.
Our team continues to grow, collaborate and collectively take great pride in maintaining our team credibility, commitment, drive and desire to deliver strong results.