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What we learned in 2020

Lessons from talking to 53 sales managers

Editor’s Note: As we completed a challenging and unique year and entered a new one, the Training Industry editorial board asked training leaders to write their reflections on 2020 and projections for 2021. This is a series of “What has changed and what has not?” : Summing up the results of 2020 and planning for 2021, ”is the result. Also, don’t miss our infographics, “5 tips on how to turn the riots of 2020 in the direction of 2021: understanding from learning leaders”, who shares thoughts from the series.

In 2020, the workplace has changed forever.

The workplace changes every year, but last year was more dramatic. It focused on which elements of learning and development are required to move forward, and in which areas strong support will be needed.

In his book The Endless Game, Simon Sinek wrote: “Endless thinking leaders understand that the“ best ”is not a permanent state. Instead, they strive to be “better”. “Better involves a path of continuous improvement and makes us feel that we are invited to contribute our talents and energy to make progress along the way.”

As the journey progresses, there are some basic practices that will remain here, and some will require a better approach in the more humanistic workplace we entered.

What to stay here


Sustainability in the workplace has always been necessary. However, last year the word attracted a lot of attention and attention due to the stressors of 2020. Hara Estraf Marana outlined the essence of sustainability in a 2003 Psychology Today article entitled “The Art of Sustainability”:

“Sustainability is based on self-belief, but also faith in something greater than yourself. Resilient people do not allow adversity to identify them. They find resilience, moving towards the goal beyond themselves, overcoming pain and grief, perceiving bad times as a temporary state of affairs.

This year, talent development professionals will be asked to help employees adopt the emotions and stressors associated with change in the workforcewhile performing effectively. Allowing employees to be more resilient and developing the areas that challenge them will continue to be vital.

Trust and communication

Strong, effective teams and a workplace culture are based on trust and the ability to change communication styles. Helping team members communicate with trust has already been a challenging task for talent development professionals. Assessments that help people understand their preferred communication style and how that style can complement or confront other styles continue to be a valuable investment in the workplace.

Talent development professionals need to collaborate with teams and go beyond awareness using regular contact points after evaluation. These points of contact can help teams continue to use their strengths and delve into the discomfort as the workplace changes and evolves. This process will not only strengthen communication, but also support best communication practices, whether the teams work in person or remotely.

A new frontier: grace and empathy

Although please and empathy should have been top priorities in the workplace, 2020 has shown us that the “best” of each person from day to day looks different. As leaders and team members looked at the homes of their colleagues, they saw things they had never seen before. They saw a team member work every day in her bedroom with a headboard as a backdrop because her partner needed a free room for meetings while their children were doing school in the living room. They saw a team member who once finally said he turned his sink into a desk because the bathroom was the only place he could close the door in the attic where he shared with his partner who worked at the kitchen table.

These real scenes have become a common new workplace, and they have helped remind us of the importance of showing empathy and giving grace to others and ourselves. Talent development should address this call by providing a learning experience that will help employees learn what grace and empathy feel and look like.

Moving forward, talent development professionals should help employees identify and take advantage of learning and growth opportunities that will help them achieve the goals of Professor Theresa Wiseman’s program. four attributes of empathy:

    • To be able to see the world as others see it.
    • Be non-judgmental.
    • To understand another person’s feelings.
    • To convey our understanding of this person’s feelings.

Learning to accept and practice these attributes opens the door to a more humanistic and authentic workplace. How Article PwC recently noted that “management teams need to manage with empathy and demonstrate an understanding that, although all their employees have experienced this crisis, they have not all experienced it equally”.

For years, we have described soft skills as a priority, but the emphasis on business results over learning and development gives a clear message as to what is really valued. Low employee engagement statistics famously reflect this discrepancy. The past year has demonstrated that the path to business success is to further develop soft skills such as resilience, communication and trust, while adding empathy and kindness to the list.

This approach can deliver serious results, as employers feel that their voice is heard 4.6 times more likely to do their best job. Just remember: their best can look different day by day, so please!

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