The only thing that stays the same is that everything changes. In 2020, when it seems like stability is on vacation for an undisclosed amount of time, that quote is ringing a bit truer than normal. Work is evolving quickly, and everyone from the CEO to the new hire is re-examining not only the work they do, but how they do it. With so many demands, so much pivoting, and such unprecedented change, it’s a good time to take a step back and be strategic. With this in mind, I sat down with Dr. Susan Hanold, ADP’s Vice President of HR Strategic Advisory Services, to get her take on how businesses and employees need to adjust to accommodate these fluctuations. Here are three insights she shared with me on how to re-examine our professional pathway forward:
While onboarding and offboarding employees is commonplace, right now reboarding is the focus of many employers. This ranges from bringing employees back into the office to the constant dance as employees are shuffled into new positions in an attempt to meet the ever-changing demands of work during this pandemic. It is vital that, amidst all this, adequate time is made for effective reboarding. While it may seem like an obvious and not particularly noteworthy detail, the importance of this shouldn’t be overlooked. Companies haven’t dealt with these situations before and, if appropriate protocols aren’t in place, it can end up costing a business revenue and talent.
Returning employees must understand and follow new COVID-19 guidelines. Employees moved to different departments must have proper training and support. When this attention to reboarding is lacking, the result is what Hanold refers to as “culture chaos.” With some employees being shuffled, these disruptions and their consequences are snowballing. Without effective reboarding overseen by adequately prepared managers, businesses risk being overrun by incompetent workers, locked in culture chaos, or even facing the consequences of an outbreak of COVID-19 in their office. From the employee engagement perspective, reboarding is vital for those employees in new roles — providing them with a sense of belonging and the knowledge that they are contributing to the company’s success.
Between those employees who are being shifted to new positions to cope with fluctuations, along with businesses finding new ways to engage in a socially distancing world, the end result is that everyone is being required to reconsider their own skill sets and grow accordingly. For example, someone who is working as a server inside a restaurant may have to pivot to a new role as a delivery driver. The advantage of such a strategic move is that this would make use of their current knowledge of customer service, while assisting in meeting the new demands of the business.
Even C-level executives are being challenged to grow during this time, as they are being pushed to share thought leadership online. Typical modes of communication and networking that have been long-established in industry, like conferences, are no longer an option, so executives are being forced to broaden their engagements and attend virtual conferences or collaborate virtually through online connections.
So it is vital for us to remember that, whatever position we hold, this time of fluctuation is also a time of growth. Don’t let these new skills go to waste. What you learn during this time of need can be used for the next step in your career.
How are managers supposed to keep up with all of this? With the need to constantly pivot as changes occur, the question becomes what corners can be cut? Hanold’s answer was that, in some cases, it’s not about cutting corners but leveraging tools more effectively. She gave the example of some managers who have considered canceling performance reviews completely. However, there are programs that can run automated performance reviews… and you might already have one as part of your current system, just waiting to be engaged. Yes, an automated performance review could be a dramatic change and does require an initial investment of time and effort to ensure it is properly launched. Still this is just one example of how reassessing the capabilities of our tools can help stretch our resources and maximize our capabilities. Perhaps a chat with IT to reassess your capabilities could be a big step forward in working smarter during this time when you are working so much harder.
In the end, there is no working around the fact that this is a hard time for all. However, one thing that Susan Hanold made clear was that it doesn’t need to be a wasted time. It can be a time filled with learning, innovation, discovery, and new applications. This time can be a stepping stone. Through constant reassessment of where we are, we can head to new places and take on new challenges. So, here’s to re-examination and finishing 2020 strong.
Jacquelyn Adams is a career development enthusiast and an award-winning CEO. She lives in a world of constant exploration, whether it’s summiting Mount Kilimanjaro, delving into more effective employee training strategies… or discovering how she’d do in a chocolate eating contest (answer: last place). Find more of her Lessons on Leadership articles here or connect with her on LinkedIn here.