If the last year or so has taught us anything, it’s being able to adapt out of sheer necessity. We’ve become our own IT problem solver, upped our talking-head game to make video conferences productive and found ways to get work done in sometimes less than ideal circumstances. Maybe you haven’t given much thought to being nimble as a personal skill set. Employers, however, are noticing and identifying these skills and ways to incorporate flexibility into company culture. Let’s discuss building flexibility from the employee perspective.
1. Focus on your core values
Fundamental values don’t shift with the changing tide. They keep you grounded during periods of change. Using your core values and your organization’s culture as anchor points will help you gauge decisions when you receive unexpected requests — especially the unusual ones. We’ve all been there.
2. Be open-minded
You’ll likely find it easier to understand and manage a situation if you look at it from a different perspective. Let’s say you’re launching a new product. What do potential customers think, need, want? Does it meet those expectations? How about your channel, installers, competitors, etc.
As part of a team, what’s your contribution? How do you react when something needs to get done? The open-minded answer is step up, be there for your team and part of the solution.
3. Proactively develop your skill set
Yep, here it is. The ultimate COVID-19 flexibility test — ya learn somethin’ new every day. Nothing builds flexibility like necessity but the key here is initiative.
Working from home has meant we’re the first and last option to make things happen, whether it’s fixing your internet connection or keeping up to date with new industry trends. It takes proactive initiative.
4. Be grateful
Staying positive is hard when you know a large and urgent project is on the horizon. But focusing on the positives helps you to stay resilient and focused. Gratitude is a huge esteem builder. Be grateful for the work, for the insights and help from remote colleagues and the trust your organization has placed in you to get the work done.
focusing on the positives helps you to stay resilient and focused.
5. Manage ambiguity
The process of discovery is not predictable. It’s stressful to not know the answer. The tendency is to push hard through the uncertainty to some kind, any kind, of answer. But that’s risky. In fact, predicting an outcome at the onset of a project can hinder analysis and the creative process, and skew results. On behalf of yourself and the team, understand that ambiguity is akin to patience as you process and problem-solve toward the best and most effective solutions. Be aware of it, acknowledge it, manage it, reassure people and maintain (or restore) calm. Then, use the uneasiness it produces to explore new ideas and options that emerge as a result of experiencing that uncertainty.
6. Plan ahead
Even if you can’t predict the future, you can still plan for the unexpected. Anticipating the next new development, the next step, the next opportunity prepares you for what’s ahead. Measuring and preparing for risks are important skills. If you are pitching a product or service to a potential client, anticipating the questions she might ask, and preparing your responses and those of the team ahead of time will get you a long way toward winning the business.
7. Have a strong support network
Here’s the “no-duh” element. Of course, you need a great network to succeed. No one goes it alone. But the remote teams we’ve all become accustomed to have different dynamics than in-office teams. Managing them is different, too.
Strengthen relationships with co-workers by building trust, delivering your best on time, leading when opportunities arise, providing honest feedback and staying tuned-in to your colleagues to help and support them when needed.
Stacy Einck is director of communications at Axiom Marketing in Minneapolis, where she works with a fantastic team consulting clients on market insights, branding, strategy and marketing communications. Her work focuses on B2B in the building and landscape industries, as well as sustainability and energy efficiency. www.axiomcom.com