Post-Pandemic Work: The Future is Now

Post-Pandemic Work: The Future is Now

What will work look like in your organization, post-Covid? When the pandemic ends, which new normal adaptations will endure? Our common response to massive disruption, such as a pandemic, is to hope for and assume things will return to normal. However, do we really want to return to all the old ways of doing business? This topic comes up frequently with my clients right now. And it makes sense: planning for an uncertain future is challenging, even for great leaders and managers. They want to avoid old “bad” habits, and incorporate new policies and processes that make sense for their organization, including their employees. Savvy leaders and managers understand the importance of an effective strategy, careful planning, and great execution in order to emerge from this pandemic. But do we truly know, and understand, how our work has been changed? When the Pandemic Ends… A massive disruption provides an opportunity to examine how things were before, including our view of the future. Based on an analysis of consumer and business trends, The McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) recently published a report on the future of work. According to MGI, remote work, digitization, and automation were accelerated by the pandemic. They predict that these trends will “have a lasting impact on workers and work, even after the pandemic.” However, others caution about expectation management. It is incredibly wonderful how so many have come together to create solutions, now and for the future. It is truly remarkable how we adapt: remaining flexible, creative, and productive through-out the process. A pandemic changes the way we work, learn, and live. It alters our perceptions...
The Power of Cognitive Flexibility and Persuasion

The Power of Cognitive Flexibility and Persuasion

“In a turbulent world, success depends not just on cognitive horsepower but also on cognitive flexibility. When leaders lack the wisdom to question their convictions, followers need the courage to persuade them to change their minds.” – Organizational psychologist, Adam Grant, PhD As a coach, I work with some really incredible people who have an amazing depth of wisdom. They rely on their knowledge, skills, experience, and intuition, and it serves them well. However, they will also be the first to tell you that there have been times when they regret rejecting the opinions and ideas of others in favor of their own, let’s just say, unwise ideas. When asked what led up to this, some will point to blind spots, or hidden bias. But others confess to simple over confidence: they wouldn’t listen to others and held fast to what they believed to be true. It’s not uncommon for leaders. After all, their expertise often catapults them to where they are today. But, have you noticed how truly great leaders have the wisdom and courage to question their own convictions? They do this with three key tactics: Accept that everyone has limits, including you. Surround yourself with a diversity of experts and empower them to ethically and courageously persuade you. Practice flexibility, collaboration, and compromise. Sounds simple enough, but…why don’t we “just do it?” Why We Believe Everything We Think First, it’s easy to forget that we don’t know what we don’t know. Add to that how facts quickly change, either through new data, discoveries, or perspectives, and what was once right may be outdated. Second, as leaders...
Manage Burnout for Peak Performance

Manage Burnout for Peak Performance

Peak performance is not what it used to be, according to leaders, managers, and employees who report teetering on the brink of burnout. And it’s not just individuals: entire organizations are at risk. Within the first seven weeks of 2021, Harvard Business Review published six articles on the topic, including how the pandemic contributes to burnout, how to recognize burnout, and how to fight burnout. But instead, what if we could avoid burnout and maintain peak performance? Although burnout is not classified as a medical condition or mental disorder (DSM-5), in 2019—pre-pandemic—the World Health Organization (WHO) re-defined the occupational phenomenon of burnout in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). According to the WHO, “burnout is a syndrome…resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed,” and includes three dimensions: Feeling of energy depletion Feeling of negativity/cynicism related to personal occupation or increasing mental distancing from occupation Reduced professional/occupational efficacy Typically, we avoid burnout by taking breaks: we enjoy several weeks of vacation, spend time away, and de-stress with a change of scenery and energizing activities. But for many, this has not been an option during the past year. Add to that virtual offices and work from home (WFH) practices, and stay-cations don’t recharge us like we need. Reaching and maintaining peak performance, for individuals and organizations, requires ongoing daily energy management. Four Dimensions Energy has four dimensions: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual (or ritual). We draw energy from each dimension, which we must replenish. To build our strength and expand our energy capacity (stamina/resilience) we must stretch ourselves beyond our usual limits and allow for rest. This...
Calm, Cool, and Collected: Communication in Conflict

Calm, Cool, and Collected: Communication in Conflict

How do you remain calm, cool, and collected when conflicts escalate? We’ve all been there: encountering someone in a fit of road rage; a neighbor upset about another neighbor’s transgression; dealing with a beloved toddler in the middle of a melt-down. Typically, we ignore such bad behavior, waiting for it to resolve itself. But, these may be prime opportunities to practice de-escalation techniques and communication skills. Generally speaking, we trust that our co-workers are capable of resolving conflicts and able to avoid crisis in the workplace. If a situation does escalate, equipped and available managers step in. But consider this: according to the most recent report by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), over 20,000 workers experienced trauma from workplace violence in 2018. How does this happen? Conflict Escalation Multiple factors can escalate a situation, including: Physical: Pain/illness, sleep deprivation, low blood sugar/dehydration, prescription changes Mental or cognitive: Unhelpful thoughts/thinking patterns, negative perceptions, critical inner voice Emotional: Pre-existing mood disorders, past trauma, etc. Social: Lack of healthy support network, isolation Environmental: Visual or auditory triggers, audience Spiritual: Sense of connection to higher power or that which offers hope, faith, purpose While a crisis is not typically caused by one event, there is often a tipping point. Most common is the death of a significant other, loss of a relationship, loss of work, homelessness, or cabin fever. A crisis occurs when people perceive that they have encountered insurmountable obstacles to their goals, their life cycle or routine is significantly disrupted, and they have no appropriate method to manage their situation. In other words, they believe they have...
The Matter of Business Ethics

The Matter of Business Ethics

We are making great strides in corporate social responsibility. Many reflect changes in business policies and practices. But when it comes to business ethics, are we really improving? Consider this: almost 120 years ago, German socialist, economist, and politician Max Weber published his book, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, emphasizing that personal integrity and reputation matters: they form the basis of good business relationships. A person’s words are their bond and business can be counted on with a handshake. Jump to the turn of the century. For six consecutive years, Fortune magazine deemed Enron one of the most innovative organizations and two months after being publicized, Enron filed for bankruptcy, bringing down companies and 1,000’s of individuals with it. Not long after, new regulations and legislation were enacted including penalties regarding records and the accountability of auditing firms. Then came the financial crisis of 2007-08, where organizations were deemed “too big to fail,” generating other hazards, risks, and an uneven playing field. Headlines, book lists, and social media are filled with other examples, several from the most recent past. How did we get here? And more importantly, where do we go from here? What We Don’t See In Moral Mazes (Oxford University Press, 2009), Robert Jackall suggests that modern bureaucracy has created a “society within a society” in which there is a set of ethical standards that may not be consistent with those of the larger society. Our current capitalistic society goes along with these sub-societies, as long as they are successful. Generally, the larger the organization, the more complex the strategy and operations. It might...
A Better Manager for 2021

A Better Manager for 2021

How are you preparing to be a better manager in 2021? Employees look to their managers and business leaders to help them make sense of complexities within their own organization, as well as the external world. They seek reassurance that their own experiences and perspective is accurate, and that there exists an adequate framework to create and maintain stability and move forward. More than ever before, employees need to be able to trust their leaders. According to a recent article published by Harvard Business Review, trust is comprised of four components:   Competence: the ability to get the job done Motives: our reasons (or reasoning)  Fair means: consistency in applying the same rules to offer rewards or assign punishments Impact: the consequences of all actions In a chaotic world, business leaders cultivate trust and help their employees when they clarify their values, develop their communication abilities, and connect in meaningful ways. Clarify Your Values Your values are the underlying foundation in how you make decisions and take action (or non-action.) They are at the core of your motives, how you prioritize, and the sacrifices you make to reach your goals. Your values have a great impact in how you reconcile conflict. Consider your attitude in relation to other people. What are your obligations to your family, friends, and community? What will you leave as a legacy to the next generation? As a mentor, what values or core beliefs would you want to pass on? Below is a sample of values. If you were to rank each from 1 – 10 (with one being the most important to you), what would be your top...