5 ways leaders and HR can capitalise on the opportunities COVID has presented

This year is certainly one for the history books. Executive teams, leaders, and employees alike will reflect on how they flourished or scraped through the year of 2020. However, as Amy Novogratz (Co-founder of Aqua-spark) summarised so well, “everything that is behind us is pushing us forward.”

Below are five tips for organisations, leaders and HR teams to consider when looking to thrive on the road ahead:

1. Maintain a growth mind-set.

Carol Dweck’s research (2006) outlines how a growth mind-set can serve us, and those around us, by learning from criticism, persevering in the face of adversity and having a desire to evolve. Where do you sit on the continuum between a growth and fixed mind-set? She says we all shift along the continuum, however we have a natural tendency towards one side. It is important that we consciously choose the ‘lens’ that we see the world through and we challenge others to do so too.

2. Solve challenges by harnessing the collective intelligence of the organisation.

Collective intelligence emerges from collaboration across teams and the organisation. Many functional areas in an organisation approach problem solving from a view of ‘we are the expert’ and ‘we will solve this issue for you’. More teams could release the burden of expertise and partner with other business areas to solve the complex challenges we are faced with. How can we increase our ability to co-create initiatives with the broader business?

3. Apply employee segmentation principles to focus on the employee experience.

To segment our people, we cluster them into cohorts of individuals with similar needs. Employee experience is treating your employees like important customers. A one-sized-fits-all approach will not allow for the innovative solutions required to meet the varied needs of an organisation’s people, especially in our ever-changing world of work.

4. Focus on psychological safety to support inclusion and drive innovation.

Timothy Clarke (2020) defines psychological safety as a condition where you feel included (stage 1), safe to learn (stage 2), safe to contribute (stage 3) and safe to challenge (stage 4) without the fear of being embarrassed, punished, or marginalised. If leaders can increase psychological safety within their teams, then their people will take more ownership, have a higher velocity of learning, release more discretionary effort, and drive innovation.

5. Coach leaders and people to be more agile.

Leaders and HR teams play a crucial role in coaching people to increase their capability to adapt to the new world of work. Who has time for coaching, I hear you say? Below are the 4 ‘killer questions’ that can be used to coach on the fly for any leader with 5 minutes to spare – the order of questions shifts from GROW to RGOW:

    • Reality – what is the problem right now?
    • Goal – what do you want to achieve?
    • Options – what is one thing you could do differently?
    • Wrap-up – when will it happen?

In summary, despite the challenges thrown at us through COVID, 2020 has been a year of reflection, redefinition and evolution. How long will we maintain our agile mind-set moving forward?

Written by Rebecca Christianson – Director, Thriving People Consulting