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Tools for your 2020 development and beyond

Tools for your 2020 development and beyond

Nicola Hopes

13 August 2020

You’ve probably thrown most of your plans from January 2020 out the window. I’m afraid it’s time to throw out one more – your development plan – and here’s why…

At the virtual Association for Coaching conference at the end of June, I heard bestselling author and coach Jay Shetty talk about the Vision of the Post-COVID 19 Workplace he suggested that:

“You can’t predict the challenges of your work or industry in the future

because there’s so much uncertainty.

But there are common skills that will enable you to thrive –

they are emotional intelligence; creativity & innovation; adaptability & flexibility; and resilience.

So, why should you replace your current development plan with these tools?

We’re going to focus on two key tools this time and two in my next email. Here’s my view on why investing time in these tools is right for right now.

Tool 1: Emotional intelligence

I can already feel some of you clenching on this one… I’m not necessarily talking about deep, emotional conversations here. And I’m definitely not talking about virtually or actually trying to hug your colleagues (my HR pro best friend is already texting me ‘POLICY’ at the mere suggestion!). Emotional intelligence it just about being more aware of yourself and others…it doesn’t come with a side order of new age healing days, it’s a core skill for leadership.

That’s nice Nic, but of the many things on my to do list – why would this tool even make an appearance?

Well, even if colleagues haven’t been through the trauma of losing loved ones to this pandemic, they will know people who have. They will have seen their lives change and they will have seen their families make compromises on finance, lifestyle, education and fun. Their career plans and retirement plans may have fundamentally changed.

Sensitivity to this will be key to keeping people well and working, as well as unlocking their potential.

So, what can you try?

  1. Ask your team how they really are and why – and listen to the answer. Don’t accept the superficial response – ‘fine’ is for the weather! Ask them what they need. Make sure they know they matter.
  1. Challenge yourself to understand how others are feeling – without them having to tell you. Watch their body language and patterns of speech and behaviour and notice if they change and in what circumstances.
  1. Don’t assume others will react as you do to good or bad news – all (legal) responses are ok.
  1. Keep your behaviours in check – this doesn’t mean a relentlessly sunny disposition. It just means tuning into how you’re feeling and choosing what you say and how you behave – and therefore your effect on others. The alternative is that they get what they get, and frankly, you’re better than that.

Put simply - take some time to understand how you’re coming across to others and how they seem to you – and what needs to be done about it. Easy, yes?

Tool 2: Creativity and innovation

It’s all a bit messy at the moment. You’re facing new problems and having to find new solutions. If you’re going to shine through this, you have to either:

  1. find solutions or ideas that others or other organisations haven’t
  2. do them faster
  3. do them better
  4. OR ideally all 3!

Pulling out last year’s sales strategy and changing the date (and target) just won’t cut it. Don’t tell me that’s not what you do – I’ve seen some of them!

That’s great, but what if I don’t want to unlock my inner Hockney or get seriously into The Great Pottery Throwdown (and no I’ve not seen it)?

You could try…

  1. Changing up your routine – this could be as simple as when you exercise, what you eat for breakfast, what’s on the wall of your home office or the music you listen to. Small nudges encourage your brain to see things differently.

“You want your physical and social surroundings to change.

If it’s the same old stuff on the walls and your desk –

and the same people you’re talking to – that’s not good for creativity.”

Robert Epstein senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioural Research and Technology

  1. Seeking out new experiences – in or outside work – to broaden your perspective. A new place to visit with the family, a new activity, virtual singing lessons (yes, they exist – a friend of mine is doing them). New and interesting experiences have been shown to trigger the release of dopamine, which not only increases motivation but also enhances memory and learning.
  1. Try a work ‘escape room’ – Robert Epstein suggests setting a time limit for a task or taking on an “ultimate challenge”. Set a problem to solve or opportunity to meet and then you’re literally (or virtually) shut in the room until new connections are made, ideas form and solutions come. Allow reading, reflection, drawing and discussion to generate ideas. You can even arrange a food delivery (like you would for a physical workshop) to keep your virtual team going through the exercise. The only thing you stand to lose is the time it takes and the cost of the pizza #worthago.
  1. Increase the diversity of who you consult with – for true innovation you need a diversity of experiences and thinking styles because those with different experiences see things in different ways. They challenge your idea of the givens. They find different options and opportunities. Without knowing it, many of us create an echo chamber of like-minded thinkers – in work and on social media. Face into the discomfort of someone who just doesn’t buy what you’re selling. You’ll definitely learn something, if only to control your visible annoyance - I refer you to emotional intelligence tip 4!

In summary, difference helps you think differently so it’s worth embracing. Who knows where it could take you?

So, is it emotional intelligence or creativity and innovation that you’re you going to add to your toolkit for 2020 and why? It will be a worthwhile investment for your future, and I can’t wait to hear what you’ve achieved with it.

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