Work styles and personal preferences play a strong role in guiding behaviors, actions, and interpersonal relationships within a team. Each person may vary greatly from one another on the continuum of each preference. One of the most common personality preferences discussed in the era of widespread remote work is the introversion-extroversion preference. While this is certainly an important aspect of personality dynamics that has become widely-recognized, there are several others that play a unique role through remote work.
Congratulations! You’ve officially survived the first half of this wacky year. Take a moment to reflect on everything you’ve learned along the way as you overcame countless unexpected challenges. While we all hope the remainder of this year will be better than the first half, if 2020 has taught us anything it’s to expect the unexpected.
As much as we’d all like to return to some degree of normalcy soon, there are some important activities we should consider replacing. On the top of that list is the mid-year review.
Critical thinking, decision making, and solving problems are among the top desired skills in nearly any role. We want people who can identify problems, evaluate information, and draw conclusions quickly and effectively. Studies show individuals with strong critical thinking skills have higher educational and occupational attainment than those who struggle to think critically. Naturally, with such an emphasis on selecting and developing great thinkers, that should translate into highly successful organizations where problems are effectively identified and addressed.
Unfortunately, where we may lack a critical thinking problem, we often find a management problem. In hierarchical organizations and those with poorly distributed power, management takes on an astonishing volume of problem-solving responsibilities. Employees are neither trained nor empowered to think critically to identify and solve problems on their own, and therefore take all issues to their manager for help. Managers then find themselves overburdened with making reactionary, tactical decisions as they’re the team’s full-time firefighters. And because they’ve failed to train and empower their employees, they often end up solving the same problem repeatedly.
There’s an old saying that “When the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, you treat everything as a nail.”
A similar phenomenon is happening in corporate training. Heavy investment in HR technology for employee development including eLearning, Learning Management Systems (LMS) and the accessibility of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) has changed the way we think about educating employees. Those changes, however, may not be in the best interest of the employee or the long-term health of the company.
After spending tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars on implementing a LMS and customizing courses, naturally, there is an expectation that managers should use that technology wherever possible. To be fair, eLearning can be a wonderful way to distribute basic just-in-time education to a large volume of employees who are geographically dispersed. It’s perceived as inexpensive (only because the significant cost of a LMS has already been paid upfront), doesn’t require travel or the cost of a trainer, and can be squeezed in between other work activities. But learning technology has its place, and it shouldn’t be the answer to every employee development need.
Over the weekend, I completed some pre-Summer cleaning in my office. This has become a bit of a coping technique for me to get through the past few volatile months. While unemployment rises and the economy dips, I can still maintain a degree of control through organizing my workspace so that I don’t add to the mental clutter. In the process of organizing old documents, I came across my 2020 Strategic Plan. Instead of tossing it in the shredder, I took some time to reflect on what a wild few months it has been.
Like any good strategic plan, there were calculated assumptions made along with contingency plans to activate if results were outside of the expected range. What we did not expect is needing a contingency plan for the whole country shutting down at once. While the original 2020 Strategic Plan is now basically a souvenir for an extraordinary year, version 2.0 of the plan is where we should focus our attention.
As important conversations about racism, equality, and equity take center stage due in part to the tragic death of George Floyd, now is a critical time to examine the progress we’ve made toward a diverse and inclusive workforce. While we’re slowly improving the degree of representation women and minorities have in senior leadership, there’s a long way to go. Despite an increased focus on Diversity & Inclusion initiatives within organizations and the implementation of policies forbidding harassment, we’ve failed to create a psychologically safe environment for a diverse workforce.
The subtle slights or verbal snubs experienced daily by marginalized groups are often overlooked as innocent errors and not given the attention they need. These are called microaggressions and they come in many forms, both subtle and more overt. Here are a few common examples of this toxic workplace behavior: