Growing self awareness,

social distancing – feelings of longing – looking for a job

Embracing falling to rise

There we go again?! Working from home; How to survive (this time)? You are longing for social contact physically! Meeting others is a requirement to grow, not only for students but for all of us.

The social distancing measurements due to Covid-19 have an impact on employees. Our small-scale market research in the Brainport area (The Netherlands) conducted amongst start-ups, scale-ups and large companies during the first Covid-19 lockdown, confirms this. And it doesn’t seem to shift: we will never get used to it.

Feelings of longing 

Don’t try to push away these feelings of longing due to lack of social and physical contact! Instead, acknowledge them. The pain that goes with lacking something is valuable to you. It will help you to find out more about yourself.

What to do

Take your time to remember what people have been telling you you’re good at. If you don’t know, ask a good friend or a colleague you trust. It will help you to find out more about topics like, What do I need for my well-being when working from home? How can I reduce stress or the risk of getting overworked? You might even become aware of ineffective habits, saving time for things you like to do!

Looking for a job 

When you are looking for a job, know what your strengths are. It will help you focus on a job that is tailor-made for you. With this focus, you will get more easily into the picture of an employer that fits you.

The good thing about all of this

There is one good thing about being in this different situation: We are all invited to redeploy our existing skills, rediscover our abilities and explore our creativeness. We might have forgotten about some of them.

Finding out what makes you unique and knowing about your abilities and capabilities, thanks to the informal talk with your friend or colleague (even if it is online), makes it possible for you to start a new journey. An adventure without the need to travel abroad! The answer to satisfying your desires is within you. Take time for self-reflection as the greatest glory in living lies not in never falling but in rising every time we fall (Nelson Mandela).

Emotional Intelligence: looking beyond the screen…

virtual leadership – remote teams – training needs – EI

We all know it: we’ve read it, we’ve heard it, all major research and consulting firms tell us the same… Emotional Intelligence (EI) is one of the most important management capabilities, especially now, during Covid-19 times. Leaders and managers are expected to have it – or learn it, if they don’t have it already.

But what is EI and why is it so important? What difference does it make to employees, teams and companies? More importantly, how can the manager ‘learn it’?

Emotional Intelligence in simple words is the capability of being aware of and managing your own emotions and being able to be aware of others’ emotions and to empathise with them. To cut a long story short, we know from the research that EI is needed within organisations to build supportive and caring environment – which in turn will have positive effect on our employee engagement and performance rates.

Yet, less than half of organisations provide EI training to their senior- and mid-management. This leaves the managers wondering how they can develop it, a lot of them will look for coaching and support outside of the organisation.

Here’s a list of some simple actions that every manager can take as a starting point towards developing their EI.    

1. Develop self-awareness: connect with your own emotions on a regular basis and ask why are you feeling this way? Then ask why one more time. This will help you dig deeper into understanding the root cause.

2. Authentic leadership: don’t be afraid of sharing your feelings with your team members, showing your positive, and negative feelings and thoughts will add authenticity to your management style and make you more relatable.

3. Heart check-in: run team catch ups in which you only talk about how you’re all feeling – this can be a great way to open a dialogue about emotional wellbeing and create a culture of safety and caring for each other.

4. Observe and listen: look for cues that can give you more information – physical (example: an employee looking tired and pale), behavioural (example: an employee being quiet and withdrawn in meetings), emotional (example: someone losing temper in an email reply), verbal (what they say, and is it what we’d normally hear from them).

5. Show empathy: showing that you understand and care can go a long way – no one expects you to solve all their issues but being a listening ear and expressing understanding can work miracles

Sources:

Capgemini, 2019:

https://www.capgemini.com/news/emotional-intelligence-report/

Boston Consulting Group, 2020:

https://www.bcg.com/en-nl/publications/2020/people-centric-transformation-going-beyond-the-crisis

Illustration: ID 131610980 © Hajnalikornel | Dreamstime.com

Business Impact,

introduction – struggling with disruption – sectoral stimulationthe trust factor – accelerated digitization – diversity, an asset in turbulent times – the fast growing employee

Introduction

At Bluetivity we have conducted small-scale market research on the business impact of COVID-19. We wanted to understand better what happened to organizations and the people within to be able to improve our services to our clients. We mainly focused on the Brainport area in The Netherlands and interviewed several managers in the industry (varying from startups, scale-ups to large companies) and some in education and government. Here are our findings.

Struggling with disruption

During the first wave of the virus several companies/organizations:

  • encountered sales decline, fewer product launches, and fewer investments
  • watched current cash cows becoming dogs
  • got into survival mode and started ‘fire-fighting’
  • started refocusing their strategy, reconsidered supply chains, focused on niche areas, or paid more attention to recycling
  • overreacted while others stayed pretty calm being supported by their shareholders
  • faced difficulties in making decisions
  • failed to communicate effectively with their employees, increasing uncertainty among them
  • could afford to focus internally for a while and carry out activities which had been for long on the internal to-do-list
  • kept the team spirit (start-ups)

Sectoral stimulation

Some sectors got an extra impulse because of COVID-19, like for instance health care and the digital services industry. Remarkably, governmental institutions, especially those with IT departments, benefitted because of the growing interest from highly skilled professionals applying for a job.

The trust factor

Because of lockdowns most of us were more or less forced to start working from home, heavily using all kinds of digital communication to keep the business going. Many did not need to travel to their jobs anymore, which saved a lot of time (and money) and had a positive effect on the environment. Interestingly it turned out that employees working at home became even more productive than working in the office. This invalidates the belief of some managers that workers who work from home cannot be trusted and cost too much money.

Accelerated digitization

It may not be surprising that the roll-out of digital services was quite stimulated because of COVID-19. Collaboration by having video calls has grown tremendously in all sectors of society and online training and education for everyone is going to become a standard. Schools, universities, and private institutions are currently working hard to develop and implement new models of knowledge transfer.

Diversity, an asset in turbulent times

It turned out that some companies in survival mode paid less attention to diversity. That is pretty sad and a missed opportunity because diversity helps to recover and furthers an organization’s resilience. I like to refer to an article of McKinsey in which is stated: Inclusion and diversity are at risk in the crisis—but are critical for business recovery, resilience, and reimagination1.

The fast-growing employee: flexible, creative, and capable

What is actually being asked from employees? We found: flexibility, creativity, and capability. Capability encompasses the redeployment of existing skills. Organizations nowadays talk about skills mobility. Employees are expected to use their talents, including their hidden talents, in situations other than those they are used to. This is of course strongly related to flexibility and creativity. The good thing is that employees can grow faster this way, they can show more of what they are capable of. For the company, it is beneficial too, because it stimulates innovation and helps to get things done, also when some employees are temporarily not available.

There is much more to say about the typical impact of COVID-19 on employees and about the impact on managers. My colleagues Maron Galama and Aneta Milosierna will be posting on these issues. I recommend reading their posts and advice as well.

Sources

1 McKinsey, May 2020:  https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/diversity-and-inclusion/diversity-still-matters#