Lessons learned today to help us with tomorrow
Like a lot of the world’s population, I am habitually watching the news everyday, to see what stories are ‘breaking' by the hour, continuously looking for answers to…
“What do I need to do today?”
“What should I stop doing?"
“How are other couples coping being in lockdown together 24/7?”
(Still taking any advice on this one, please?)
“Is there any information being shared that will help me get through my cabin fever?”
(The struggle is real!)
On one level, it’s scary, it’s uncertain and it’s giving me the jitters at night. I cannot lie!
On another level, I’m actually finding the experience enlightening, heart-warming and I am learning so much everyday (and my deep beliefs on the beauty of human-kind are being confirmed).
So, what am I learning and how can it help (wo)mankind? (I’m answering all the big questions in this article).
This is not an exhaustive list, but my top 5 learning moments right now are…
1. Humans are intrinsically good, kind, thoughtful and caring.
This hideous situation is showing the bright side of our human nature (bar the stockpiling of toilet rolls). The boundaries of class, race, role, age or gender are being broken down and in the words of Maya Angelou, people are ‘just doing right’ with one another. Even companies are working towards a common goal rather than competing. It’s so inspiring to see Dyson and Mercedes Formula 1 making ventilators, airlines working with each other to bring people home and allowing their staff to work in the NHS. It confirms the beliefs I have… and makes me happy!
2. We can be creative when we choose to be!
The daily examples exploding over the internet of how we are thinking differently to overcome challenges, boredom, social distancing are one part heartwarming, one part funny… and totally out of the box! We’re even posting our own daily workouts and weekly challenges on LinkedIn, if you want to check them out! A great reminder that ‘whether we think we can or we can’t we are right’ (Sorry if I have completely misquoted Henry Ford, but you know what I mean!)
3. Social media is actually being just that - social and positive.
With so many stories over the last few years about how social media is used for trolling, unkindness and putting people down, it’s nice to hear how, more than ever, we are using video calling and social platforms to connect with loved ones, colleagues, friends, even strangers in need of a little love and a positive pick-me-up. It just makes me think, why weren’t we doing this before?
(That’s more of a question for me, based on a personal example of my mum being in the ‘vulnerable’ category and so she is totally on her own… and only now have we got her set up with Skype! It’s been life changing for her and the much needed interaction she needs right now.)
4. We’re discovering we can trust people to work from home! (Finally!)
We have been ‘forced’ to trust people to work from home. We have ‘no choice’. (They are words I have seen some people using on discussion threads! Really?) Unsurprisingly, those that have been ‘forced’ to work at home (who still have work to do) are being very productive. And those that unfortunately have no work to do… are still being productive! It’s funny what can happy when you put a little faith and trust in people…
5. Knowledge is power. Sharing that knowledge is even more powerful.
There are a lot of talented people out there from every corner of the world sharing their knowledge right now. Personally, I love this! Ok, I can do without someone telling me how to make a protective coronavirus mask out of an orange and an old bra strap, but I love the intention and selflessness behind it all. We have moved from ‘I have knowledge which I will use to be better than you or cleverer than you’ to ‘I have knowledge that I hope, during this difficult time, might just help you’. Now that’s the world I want to live in!
And of course, we have all learned that we couldn’t survive this pandemic without our essential key workers - nurses, doctors, carers, emergency services (I include the UK’s Royal Mail in that!), delivery companies, teachers, cleaners, supply chain workers, supermarket colleagues etc… The world has sat up and quite rightly acknowledged how important, how critical, how brave, how resilient these wonderful, wonderful people are!
So that is my take on the world now, but what do you do with all this learning? How can we use it to build a brighter future?
Without stating the bl@!*y obvious, I think it goes without saying that things are going to be quite different for many of us when things get back to some sort of normality! However, what I am hoping is that we won’t lose sight of the wonderful things we are learning (or being reminded of) today and will use them to continue creating a brave new world, especially for our teams at work.
So, imagine for a minute that time when we are able to un-distance ourselves and return to a common place of work, where colleagues sit at desks together, work in operational environments together and things feel a little bit like they used to. How do we dust ourselves down, pick ourselves up and get back into the swing of things?
What can businesses do, large and small, to fast track their teams happiness and positivity back at work?
Here are the things which could be just the thing you need to do to rebuild a vibrant future for you, your teams and your business:
When we get to this point and people are coming back to work, there will be a whole range of emotions and feelings, everything from fear, uncertainty and rejection to excitement, motivation and a new sense of energy. Normal change stuff really! So don’t delay, help
people manage these emotions in a way that will reassure, reignite and reconnect them to the new future of your company. With the likelihood that many redundancies have taken place, some of which will have been close colleagues and friends, people need to feel safe in this brave new world and excited at the part that they play to rebuild the future.
Whether that is a positive change narrative that needs to be told, or helping them understand and connect to the new ‘why’ of your company, make people feel important, empowered and at the heart of your future success. We’ve already learnt that we like to be connected as people, we can be trusted and we are extremely creative - now is the time to put this learning into great practice!
As I have just mentioned, for many of us, things will inevitably have changed - our roles, our ways of working, organisational structures and technology we use to name but a few. Once people are reconnected with your change journey and clearly understand the part that the play in rebuilding the future, it’s time to build in activities that enable your people to grow with confidence in this brave new world. There may be fear and feelings of not being able to deliver what is expected, so reassure people by providing the right learning that engages them in their new responsibilities and allows them to shine as the brilliant employee that they are!
As well as new knowledge and skills, take time to remind yourself of all those beautiful qualities that many of us showed during our days in isolation and maybe, just maybe, use this learning to look at your leadership framework, company values and culture and ask the question ‘If we are going to succeed, is it time for a change?
Finally, keep going! Be brave, be resilient - use this opportunity to not just survive in all this, but to thrive! Implement a series of activities designed to sustain momentum behind the change story, accelerate the pace of transforming your people’s confidence and capability so that they are industry leaders in their field… and celebrate successes as they happen, which means regularly if you’ve got the other parts right!
My final thought…
It’s not going to be easy for many of us. It may require creating a new, positive and compelling sense of purpose for everyone; it will require courage to do this amidst a time of global recession; it should be done with speed to rebuild confidence and connection quickly… and it will need a lot of support for those who are worried or doubting themselves… but for me, it feels that there would be no better time than when people return to work to ‘just do right’… and never has there been a time when we are learning exactly what that looks like!
By Andy Fisher
Co-Founder - The Happy Learning Company
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