Refine the struggle: How to minimize chaos through change

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Christy Pettit

The world of work is going through its most profound change in decades, which is saying something, because it is always transforming. Back in the “before times” we already felt the transformation happening as the work realities of previous generations have steadily shifted and turned over. The fallout from the pandemic crisis is certainly the most sudden shift we’ve collectively had (and, yes, there are still moments when I am still hitting the wall with all of it).
At the risk of being a playlist on repeat, I want to resurface the concept of effectiveness in all of this. I know I am ambitious for us. I confess, I might have some spartan qualities and you might be thinking, “Why are you whipping people with this?  Why are you talking about effectiveness now, when we’re in a crisis and having to guard our mental health?”
Well, there’s a simple reason:
Effectiveness saves energy.
Mental health and capacity is all part of the equation we need to manage. We need to both maintain perspective and also acknowledge that our fears are legitimate.
So what can we do to minimize the negative effects of the disruption?
We can simplify. And focus on our value proposition.
Systems theorists would tell us that we’ve been moving from simple to complicated to complex and on into chaos. Systems theory from a variety of perspectives can be a very fruitful rabbit hole for understanding current times within organizations and in the larger world: if you have the capacity to check it out, look for work by Donella Meadows, Dave Snowden and Tyson Yunkaporta.
How do we simplify?

Set priorities

Back to our effectiveness checklist: ensure work is on priorities. Know what matters most. Park or jettison the things that are important but not crucial. Fix the things that most need fixed – gaps may have become more obvious.

Be prepared

During crises, especially economic crises, people scrimp on preparation. Both individuals and organizations underestimate what’s needed to work effectively – and this is a shared task. Preparation is aligning tasks and, if necessary, learning how to do them. Do you have an effective system for ensuring people are regularly prepared for their job?
It’s tricky in the virtual world. If you’ve come here before you know that at Pollinate we believe mentoring is a big part of being prepared.
Now more than ever you must ensure that people have connectivity to the expertise and advice they need!

Clarify and model the mindset required

A small positive out of the pandemic is that people are aggressively updating their own learning. This shows a move toward the growth mindset we need in these times when agility is the key to survival.
For employers, candidates who can demonstrate skills and experience with self-regulation, resilience and self management (the ability to set and manage priorities, critical thinking, digital and financial literacy) are edging out others with qualities that can be more easily taught. Look for (and be) people who are trying to refine the struggle: what are the real problems? What problems are we creating by communicating poorly or not dealing with anxiety?

Know and support your value proposition

Think tanks working intently on the #futureofwork have long said that the “full time job” (constructed essentially to meet the demands of rent, mortgages and other costs of living), with people doing routine things each day that are fed out by a management machine is no longer realistic. Now that work is virtual or hybrid, managers struggle to keep up a system where people need to be managed closely and everything defined in advance of action.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with master facilitator and crypto entrepreneur Jean Russell recently, defining a process for building and assessing ecosystems. This is truly mentoring at scale – where knowledge flows and positive impacts across groups are designed into the network.
What we discover over and over in looking at how people and networks behave is that we have to know accurately where we fit into the network to be effective.
If we are claiming a spot in the network, do we understand what we need to have and what we need to do to perform effectively in that spot?
For businesses this is called a “value proposition.” What do you bring to the table that is unique and is actually needed by the marketplace? When businesses aren’t clear on their value prop, customers can’t find and make use of what they have to offer, and the businesses are spread too thin doing too much.
Individuals need to be equally clear on this.
We’ve all experienced situations where someone (even ourselves) promised to play a role but didn’t. Or thought they could, but then didn’t have the support of their board or supplier or some other critical thing they needed to actually deliver.

As we continue to move through

Ensuring clear value propositions for your organization, team and yourself is an iterative process. Finally, in keeping with a growth mindset – we need to keep asking what’s needed NOW?
At Pollinate, our assessment and matching algorithm is like a continuous cycle of refining value propositions (who can do what, what do they need to do it) and putting people together to realize them.
Whether people need help with social isolation, job change, skill gaps, ensuring inclusion or transferring knowledge, strategic matching of mentoring pairs and cohorts can help as a simple and proven solution to prepare people for the world of work ahead.
Look for more strategies for working effectively though COVID coming soon.


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