It’s already a cliché to say that organizations are facing enormous challenges due to the health crisis that has been raging for the past year and a half and shows no signs of slowing down. As it often happens with cliches, it’s also true.
So how can some businesses not only stay afloat but also thrive in such turbulent times? Of course, some were already in the medical business or adjacent to it, and then it makes perfect sense that their products suddenly became in high demand. But those are not the only companies that are showing signs of being winners of this very trying period.
An agile mindset is key
The agile approach is all about being proactive rather than reactive. It seems counterintuitive when the first impulse is to stay put and minimize losses, but it’s the best way to go. Companies actively anticipating both external and internal changes can then successfully strategize and adapt their products, processes, structures, talent acquisition and management program,s, and even the technology they choose to invest in.
An agile mindset is the first step in developing a culture of organizational growth where the focus is on becoming and making things better, rather than struggling to keep everything like it is.
Read more: 3 Crucial steps in ensuring business agility
Disruption can be constructive
Sounds like a paradox, right? Once you are on the way to doing something, and unexpected developments make the whole project fall back a couple of steps (or become altogether irrelevant), this all accounts for nothing but wasted resources. Well, not quite.
While it’s true that some endeavors that had some effort put into them have proved futile in the face of the “new normal”, times of upheaval always bring new opportunities, and these are often more lucrative than whatever the company was doing before.
However, it takes leaders who are not shy about looking around the corner and pulling the plug on something that is obviously not going to work anymore.
Change goes hand in hand with learning
I’ll be honest with you, I’m not comfortable with change. Few of us are by nature, and that’s actually normal. However, change happens regardless, and it’s a lot easier to deal with if it is embraced rather than fought.
In large organizations, how people react to major transformations has a lot to do with the company culture, the values, and the way in which stakeholders communicate about change.
Yet the most important factor is offering the appropriate support, and that is mainly the province of L&D departments. Employees on all levels need to be given the right resources and tools to deal with novelty. Quality learning programs that are tailored to the needs of the organization as a whole and to those of individual departments are a high necessity.
This shift to remote work was already underway before the global health crisis, but it has been put on a speedy track. Mach3 speed, some would say. Many corporate employees suddenly found themselves confined to their kitchen or living room tables, and though there was some enthusiasm about not having to commute, and the obvious perks of having your own fridge within walking distance, overall, it was not an easy switch.
L&D departments had the difficult task of coming up with appropriate programs fast and deploying them in less-than-ideal technical conditions. It’s clear now that the future of work is remote, and companies have to prepare for it, both by investing in the right technology and by commissioning the right learning programs.
Company-wide skills are the future
For a long time, personalized learning paths were the norm – usually, this personalization was done according to the nature and mission of the specific departments that employees were working in.
Today’s demands are much wider – companies need to re-skill their people and focus on those competencies that work company-wide. Specialized employees are still valuable, but with shifts happening so rapidly, it’s important to have them ready to take on new roles at any time.
Once more, it’s essential to communicate this in an open and positive manner. Otherwise, people will constantly worry about their current jobs becoming irrelevant, and learning interventions will have the opposite effect than it was originally intended.
L&D’s role in the agile company
Supporting transformation is always a tall older for corporate learning professionals. The C-suite executives decide which way they want to steer the ship, but it’s the job of L&D specialists to make sure the sailing is smooth and nobody falls in the water (or in case they do, they can swim).
The first learning modules that need to be built and deployed throughout the organizations are exactly those that are about agility and change. Mindsets are very complex and do not change overnight or by means of a well-crafted e-mail announcing that it’s the organizational direction. L&D departments have to play an active role in building and maintaining the agile mindset in the organization.
An organizational agile mindset is necessary to any business looking to expand and thrive. It ensures that the company is ready to tackle any new challenges and has the resources to activate and drive beneficial change.
Raluca Cristescu is a Faculty of Letters graduate with over ten years of experience in corporate training, focused mainly on soft skills for customer service and direct sales.