I start to feel that there might finally and truly be some reliable and stable light at the end of the Covid tunnel. Do you?
I know that we are not entirely “there” yet; and I also know that we have been through several ups and downs of hopes and disappointments, so that it is hard to imagine a future free of the contagion threat; hard, but not impossible. In fact, many start to take concrete steps to rebuilding work in the new post-pandemic era.
But it is not easy; the pandemic has accelerated a process of digitalisation of work, the consequences of which are much bigger than finalising flexible working policies or adjusting fringe benefits from company cars to company portable offices; even bigger than addressing cyber-security in the fragmented home office universe or reinventing cities for lesser commuting.
The biggest challenge is the changed role of humans in the digital world. We saw the initial signs of this major transformation in the pre-pandemic years.
A key example was the decreased employees’ engagement in the largest multinationals; once highly desirable places to work – they used to guarantee job security, training with clear development steps and career opportunities – they gradually lost appeal as people felt treated as cogs in the well oiled machine of efficiency. A few companies, like Google and PWC started to replace obsolete control systems that treated people like commodities (standard job descriptions, one-size-fits-all performance criteria, waterfall-based KPIs) with a trust-based approach that values collaboration, creativity and critical thinking, with one-size-fits-one feedback.
I believe that we need to continue along the road traced by these pioneers. I believe in a trust-based way of working. Those who advocate “going back to normal / being back in the office 100%” show a fear of change that can seriously affect our ability to resume all our energy in order to rebuilding economies and relationships.
What I believe is needed is to look into our heart and find there the true belief that virtually everybody truly wants to be engaged, passionate and fully involved in doing the necessary work, feeling proud of sharing ownership and being accountable.
Trust is an act of faith. But as leaders we cannot stop at that. As leaders we must act upon our belief.
Re-engaging ourselves and our teams requires focused work on three main fronts:
1. RECOGNITION. We have gone through a lot. We have experienced uncertainty, anxiety, fear, loss, fatigue, disappointment. Now we desperately want to feel normal again, not constantly stressed. We need to support ourselves and others in this endeavour. We need encouragement, acknowledgment, recognition. We need our efforts to be noticed and appreciated. We know that at least 80% of people feel better when the recognition is in the form of been seen by other significant ones than by simply receiving money or a gift. This is the moment to remember to be more vocal about the efforts and progress we note in ourselves and in others.
2. DEVELOPMENT. Humans need learning as much as they need food. Even when we play we want to go further, improve, play at the next level, overcome the next challenge. Nobody enjoys doing exactly the same things all of the time, it is not satisfying. So we need to remember that, even in a moment when the economic situation might make career progressions slower than before, we can still grow both professionally and personally. One of the advantages of the pandemic is that most training providers have developed online opportunities, so let’s continue to benefit from the digital world and continue to learn.
3. FUN. Very much an underestimated factor or human collaboration is that we work, produce, create and implement much better when we have fun together. During the lock-down, we have missed the cheerfulness and playfulness of socialising around the classical water cooler or coffee room; we have talked to screen images rather than to human beings and we have at times forgotten to see colleagues as real people. We desperately need to resume the joy of having personal human contacts and re-learn how to collaborate without fear.
I hope I have giving you some useful food for thoughts.
Now, I have three suggestions for you:
A. How about bringing your team to the idillic Dutch Country side, spending some days at our Grooa Inspiria Learning Center to re-energise and re-engage? If you wish to benefit from an escape into nature, staying at a safe place, getting bespoke team facilitation / team building support, being immersed into nature, with ample opportunities to walk into our own private forest, bike around, have a cooking workshop, or arrange for a horse riding course, get in contact and let’s plan for the best / safest moment to do so.
Take a look at how we used the Centre for our own team during the pandemic.
B. Read more about being serious about FUN at work.
C. Learn the basics about having courageous conversations, with this free course (3 sections of two hours each)
Take care and continue to courageously …
… Lead with a Smile!
Managing Partner, Grooa AS
Registered company address: Manglerudveien 93, 0678 Oslo (Norway)
Visiting address: Grooa Inspiria Learning Center, Den Hiek 33, 5421XG Gemert (Netherlands)
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