Training in 2021 to help businesses recover

Thom Dennis identifies 10 types of training businesses would do well to consider adopting.

Covid-19 has changed many things. We are nowhere near a final resolution, and as time goes on, so things change which neither should, nor will go back to ‘the way things were’.

The pandemic has created many new challenges but most of the old problems still exist. As we negotiate a third lockdown, here’s how you can prepare people to emerge into a new world of work, recover faster and improve those engagement statistics. These are areas of training and skills that will make people more resilient, agile and able to better handle whatever comes next.

  1. Leadership skills. We need the best possible levels of leadership, and training that help leaders be authentic in their vulnerability, empathetic and able consciously to manage their emotions. These are not qualities that to date have been lauded and encouraged but will enable them to be more capable of effective leadership with clear and timely decision making.
  2. Self-awareness. Effective leaders need to understand the way the ego operates and how damaging, or life enhancing, its activities can be. Leaders of the recovery must develop a greater awareness of what generates their behaviour and how to hear the faint signals that we are all constantly receiving which affect our drive, motivation, creativity and decision making.
  3. How to manage in a VUCA world. We are certainly in a volatile, uncertain, chaotic and ambiguous environment, and we are likely to live with these conditions for the foreseeable future, so understanding the dynamics and having an agile approach to change is essential. The ability to anticipate the unexpected and develop our resilience is essential. Other skills such as coaching, stakeholder management, delegation, managing meetings are needed, as well as how to tackle injustice and discrimination.
  4. Employee wellbeing. The pandemic has brought all sorts of stressors to the surface so the need to be able to care for oneself as well as our employees is extremely important. The responsibility of organisations for the welfare of their people working from home has increased so we need a heightened awareness of mental health including trauma and PTSD. In addition, understanding how to address bullying, harassment and microaggressions are vital as some employees find themselves more exposed to these dysfunctions. Psychological safety, which is proven to produce the best teamwork, is a prerequisite to creating a successful culture.
  5. Diversity and inclusion. There is a pressing need to train leaders to incorporate the concept of inclusion as a fundamental stanchion of an organisation’s culture. Instead of just being curious about others, we need to begin by being curious about ourselves and our assumptions of normality and difference. And we need to Design for Inclusion.
  6. Skills to work from home. As many people have found out, this is neither simple nor easy to get right. It calls for a set of skills that to date have been largely ignored. Training leaders how to establish priorities, understand, set and hold boundaries and of course manage stress is fundamental. The need for, and willingness to, trust has changed as people cannot be supervised in the same way.
  7. Fostering community relations. Corporate responsibility is not new but with the implications of climate change affecting our immediate future, organisations have to change attitudes and priorities beyond their own walls. The pandemic is for many an opportunity for radical new thinking as work practices change and training leaders to think more widely of their impact is going to be a wise addition in recovery plans.
  8. Communication. There is always the need for better communication. Today most takes place digitally which has produced varied consequences, both positive and negative; it will be important to ensure that contact in person is re-established as much as safely possible. How to listen, how to be present, how to be brief but succinct, understanding the impact of empathy – all these skills will also be crucial for early recovery whilst reinvestment is also needed to stay up to date.
  9. The human side of technology. We need to learn how to be the masters of technology. Discipline, time management as well as understanding the ethics of AI are skills all leaders need as we increasingly struggle to step away from the screen.
  10. Establishing and maintaining a purpose. Millennials and Gen Z in organisations today have different aspirations and expectations of their employers than the latter have themselves. Just making money through asset stripping and resource utilisation without an ecological framework is time limited. Corporate responsibility, purpose and business values means getting beyond a vision to something more meaningful which young recruits can really get behind.


About the author

Thom Dennis is CEO at Serenity in Leadership.


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