Five Work Skills Adding Value
While employers and institutions are frantically dealing the ramifications of COVID-19, many still are not taking time to identify the specific work skill shifts necessary for success amid the pandemic.
William Bridges wrote about change and transition in his 1991 book, Managing Transitions. Change, he said, is something that happens to people (think COVID-19), whereas transition is an internal adaptation that helps us to deal with change.
The restrictions and fast-changing rules required to address the coronavirus now dictate how work gets done. In many cases this means continuing with remote work, returning to the office, or a hybrid of both. Successful transition mandates that organization leadership and professionals maintain a nimble posture in response to the challenges the pandemic presents.
Prior to March 2020, work was usually done face-to-face in a building or common setting. With the exception of national and global corporations with multiple sites that use distributed leadership and team models, remote work was a desired perk for people fortunate enough to be part of an organization that allowed it.
In March, however, stay-at-home orders and social distancing rules for public safety made remote work a full time reality for most non-essential workers. As a result, organizations discovered: (1) virtual work can be successful if people are provided the right tools and communication, (2) many people like it or need it to address their current realities, and (3) it is becoming clear that there is an opportunity to reduce future costs by not leasing or owning as much office space. A recent Korn Ferry article states, “…many firms have seen workers becoming more productive at home, while cutting down their commute costs and improving their work-life balance. Combined with reduced real estate expenses, it’s a formula for many companies to dramatically reduce their physical footprint.”[i]
It’s time for organizations to pause long enough from reacting to the changes brought on by the pandemic to begin assessing which transitions are not only helping their teams get through to the other side, but also are proving their worth for the long term. Part of that task is observing employees who are rising to the challenges presented by the current state of work. As an executive coach and former HR Leader, I’m watching a real-time transition taking place in these five skills that demonstrate value today and likely will be required going forward:
- Virtual / remote communications—Presence and comfort with enabling technologies that lead to clarity of message and productivity is now critical. Dependency on in-person or face-to-face meetings to get things done is going away or will be reduced. Travel for meetings will be significantly reduced or used more selectively going forward.
- Inspiring collaboration and accountability— It’s not enough to be the key person collaborating with others. Leaders need to establish a culture within their groups that includes clear goals, deliverables and mutual accountability. Once this is done, leaders also need to champion collaboration within their groups and across members that allows everyone to contribute in-person, remotely or through on-line tools or technologies. Rapid market changes are requiring far greater team and organizational collaboration to deliver results in new ways that allow quicker decisions and market response.
- Learning agility and innovation— A willingness to listen to others, to offer new ideas and to try new methods to accomplish objectives is more vital today than ever before. Adapting quickly to incorporate what works and leave behind what doesn’t often separates winners from losers. Stagnation and the inability to compete are the by-products of dependency on current methods that are ineffective and the lack of urgency around adapting to changing requirements.
- Empathy—Showing compassion and allowing for flexibility to accommodate the personal needs of team members within the framework of continuing to meet organizational goals is proving to be a distinct asset during this pandemic.
- Inclusiveness—Fostering a workplace environment, whether remote or face-to-face, that encourages everyone to participate and share is key to generating more opportunities for success. Relying only on your existing network or selected co-workers for ideas or solutions likely won’t provide the quantity, quality or the diversity of ideas that lead to innovation, customer satisfaction, quality improvement or reduced cost needed in today’s work environment.
As a leader, it is up to you to face the reality of any situation, adapt your approach to deal with the matters you encounter and do your best to move the organization forward. If you have people in your organization demonstrating success with the skills outlined above, or other skills you are now finding of great value, how are you recognizing their contributions, skills and resourcefulness?
How can executive coaching help you and your organization manage the transitions necessary so you can succeed in today’s reality and be ready for tomorrow’s challenges?
Lance Hazzard, CPCC, ACC, is a certified Intelligent Leadership Executive Coach helping people and organizations successfully achieve what’s next. He is Executive Coach and President at Oppnå® Executive & Achievement Coaching. Lance and Eric T. Hicks, Ph.D., co-authored the book, Accelerating Leadership, published in June 2019 and now also available as an e-book. More information can be found on the book, Lance and Oppnå® Coaching at the links below:
[i] Ending Corporate Offices, Korn Ferry Institute, This Week in Leadership, July 20-26, Junichi Takinami, Michael Distefano and Cameron Scott