The ongoing pandemic has brought with it anxiety and a cloud of uncertainty is being cast all over us. “The concerns over physical health, mental health, and financial and economic challenges we all face together, currently, keep me awake at night,” shared Mark Leisegang, Head of New Markets (APAC, MEA, South America), Insights, in a recent webinar, hosted by People Matters and Insights.
You can watch the full session here:
We can’t always control everything. The pandemic has surely taught us that. It has reminded us that change is inevitable. The reasons or triggers of stress and anxiety can’t be ignored or avoided but there are definitely many better ways to deal with it. In fact, part of resilience comes from the knowledge that you have a choice; that you can respond in an intentional way that reduces your stress rather than just reacting to what is happening. And that’s where resilience comes in, it fundamentally relates to one's ability to respond to change, stress, and adversity, positively.
The success of organizations in the rapidly changing business environment of today increasingly depends on resilience- the collective ability of the team and business to bounce back in the face of crisis.
While business and HR leaders realize the importance of these human skills, they often find it difficult to identify them and cultivate them among their workforce. To help talent leaders better understand the workforce and build a more relevant and impactful development plan for them, People Matters and Insights hosted a webinar as part of the series #Discover&Lead. Besides Mark, the panel of leaders included Rashmi Arya Chander, Senior Manager, Continuous Acceleration Programs, Vanderlande and Priya Prabhu, Associate Director Human Resources (HRBP and L&D, Talent Management), Eli Lilly and Company.
Here are some key insights from their discussion:
Focusing on the positives
Rashmi highlighted how this time has given her an opportunity to reflect and introspect both on a personal as well as an organizational level. It has given the quiet time to focus more on the essentials and declutter thoughts, thus, enhancing productivity.
On the other hand, Priya acknowledged that initially the situation indeed looked tough, especially for HR leaders, for whom the accessibility to people is critical. “I wondered, if I would be able to manage or not, whether I would be effective or not,” said Priya. But it was within a few days that Priya realized, “How adaptable and resilient we are as humans.”
The art of building resilience
“If I have to tell how I have been dealing with my stress and anxiety, it has been by focusing on the moments that matter,” said Priya. In a fast-moving word, which is all about timelines and deadlines, Insights has been focusing on talking about rediscovering humanity.
“Attitude and efforts are really important. How do you choose to show up? How do you choose to be? There is a purpose and a guiding light we all follow individually and for talent it is very important to find the authentic version of themselves,” said Mark.
The path to becoming resilient begins with being honest. Even if you don’t have all the right answers, even if you are flawed, and the situation is tough. It is critical to acknowledge and accept the situation as it is. Secondly, they have to be brave. Leaders, in fact, each and every person must speak up, they must engage and contribute, introverted or extroverted, on a virtual call, camera on or camera off, it is important that they share their voice and their opinions.
In an endeavor to build a more resilient organization, leaders have to rediscover their humanity and focus on having authentic conversations.
Communication can’t just be done for the sake of it. While tech enables the leaders and gives access to real time insights, it is the active and deliberate conversations done with an intent to make a difference that matters.
“A genuine and authentic interest in knowing what’s happening with our colleagues, and then helping them deal with it is important,” said Rashmi.
“Empathy and care has to be practiced every day, by everyone. It has to be imbibed in the culture and each conversation,” added Priya.
Leadership for the COVID-19 era & beyond
The ability of leaders to have transparent conversations and build trust among colleagues will be important.
“I believe that relational leadership will become a core leadership trait going forward,” said Mark.
The leaders have to focus on the bigger picture, have a long-term vision and see how they can take talent also along the way. It is no longer about tasks and outcomes alone but also about building sustainable and scalable models. For this, leaders have to be more human than ever before. With ‘work from anywhere’ becoming the new normal, how leaders keep this human element alive is extremely crucial.
Secondly, for leaders keeping the organizational culture alive and intact beyond a physical workplace would be a key focus area. Mark believes identifying the culture for the new reality of work and then sustaining it is going to be the most important but most challenging aspect for leaders. Lastly, understanding technology to be able to thrive in the new physical/virtual work environment will also be essential. How leaders can leverage technology and use it to have better human connection.
Preparing for the new reality of work: Addressing the non-negotiables
The way people work, communicate, collaborate, hire, learn, measure, and reward performance is undergoing tremendous transformation. Organizations are reinventing themselves and talent leaders are playing a key role in helping them move in tune with time. As leaders embrace this new reality of work and prepare for this big reset, the hybrid workplace, there are some non-negotiables.
To begin with, as Mark shared, work will become outcome driven. While outcome-based performance has been a topic of discussion for some time now, in this new reality of work, it will get its due focus. Leaders are increasingly realizing the importance of outcome-driven culture and accordingly reimagining their talent processes.
“Culture, addressing the unique and diverse challenges of talent, and building a resilient organization are some of the non-negotiables,” added Priya. The future is uncertain and the challenges are many. However, what is certain is that people, and their magnificent and irreplaceable human skills, will never be obsolete. It is time for organizations to unlock the human potential, identify these human skills, and use self-awareness techniques to help build a better tomorrow for both the workforce and the organization.