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The decade commencing 2020 kicked off with adversity. For many people, the COVID-19 pandemic came completely out of the blue. This has been a test for many businesses – and HR has been called upon to do more than ever to ride the wave of the disruption. But how?

Let’s go back to the beginning of World War II. German armed forces invaded Poland on 1 September 1939, and by early October, German armed forces had signed a pact with the Soviet Union, enabling it to seize control over parts of Poland.

Shortly after, Germany turned its attention to the rest of Europe. In only six weeks, it captured Paris and overran Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Many historians attribute Nazi Germany’s victory to its blitzkrieg approach.

Blitzkrieg, meaning “lightning war” in German, is the warfare tactic most identified with Nazi Germany. Its effect was devastating, particularly between 1939 and 1941. Its design was to strike a swift and concentrated blow at the enemy and intended to create psychological shock and resultant disorganisation in the enemy through the combined elements of surprise and speed.

In a time of adversity, like now, coming up with a good strategy is crucial for HR. The first step to avoid a business backsliding is to act fast. It is also imperative for HR to learn versatility and execute effective cross-departmental communication – keeping the channels open at all times.

If we take a look at the Battle of Stalingrad in 1942 – a catastrophic defeat for the Nazis – the Blitzkrieg approach did not work against the Soviet Union mostly because German armed forces’ supply units and the Luftwaffe could not link up with the advancing units due to the harsh Russian winter – leading to a massive loss of manpower and resources.

By early 1943, Russian troops had retaken Stalingrad and captured nearly 100,000 German soldiers. Nazi Germany never recovered and went on to lose the war.

It’s a salient reminder for HR. To balance the need for rapid and decisive action during times of crisis, but avoiding rushing into poorly executed strategies too hastily. It’s a sound approach. Even if the enemy we are currently fighting can’t be seen.

Photo/ Ultra Board Game