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Soft Skills for Handling Change and Uncertainty Effectively

StrategyDriven Change Management Article |Handling Change|Soft Skills for Handling Change and Uncertainty EffectivelyTackling Change Amidst Uncertain Circumstances

Handling change is always difficult. It can be tough to adjust to starting a brand new and complex job or needing to shift your business. COVID-19 has resulted in significant changes in all aspects of life. If you want to be able to get through major changes well, then there are various soft skills that can help though.

1. Flexibility

You should never be the kind of person who is “rigid.” You should strive to be as open as possible to things that seem foreign to you. Remember that familiarity isn’t always optimal especially when trying to learn and change.

2. Communication

The people who deal well with change tend to be the ones who have great communication skills. Succinct communication can go a long way, it’s productive and will help you in a time poor business environment where things need to get done quick! People gravitate to others who make things as transparent and hassle-free as possible.

3. Teamwork

Teamwork and solid communication skills basically go hand in hand. It’s in your best interests to team up with others who are around you well. Don’t ever forget that power exists in numbers. If you’re able to work well with others, you may be able to get through trying situations with ease, confidence and ample support.

4. An Upbeat Personality

It’s essential to have an upbeat attitude. It’s essential to be able to look at the bright side of life. It’s only natural that human beings are drawn to people who know how to keep things cheerful. A cheerful attitude is conducive to productivity that can pave the way for substantial and meaningful upgrades.

5. Being Able to Take on Problems Well

There’s no avoiding occasional problems. Occasional problems are natural. Your aim should actually be to figure out how to get through them like a bona fide champion. Learning how to think analytically and logically can take you far. If you’re able to remain composed, then you should be able to come up with solutions that can help all of your most pressing dilemmas become distant and irrelevant.

6. Leadership

The world could benefit from having leaders who are capable and confident. If you’re serious about the concept of being able to get through change in a healthy and productive way, then you should strive to hone your leadership abilities. It can be beneficial to know how to guide others.

7. Accountability

People who have the ability to get through change well are the ones who steer clear of being in denial. They are accountable. That’s because it can foster growth and personal enrichment. If you’re interested in being able to handle change in a healthy and beneficial manner, then you must admit when change needs to occur and there are issues. If you’re okay with change and all of the things that it may entail, then it can help you figure out how to take charge of it fully. Taking charge of change and all of its possibilities can give you a feeling of liberation and self-esteem.

Although there is a great deal of uncertainty especially in the current environment there are a range of soft skills we can improve and utilize. Be aware of the above soft skills in your workplace or personal life and try implementing the above advice.


StrategyDriven Expert Contributor |Simon ChoiAbout the Author

Simon Choi has a background in change management in consulting (including EY and KPMG) and financial services from Australia. In 2017, he started his own small business distributing lensball photography accessories.

Not Infected But Certainly Affected

StrategyDriven StrategyDriven Editorial Perspective Article |Coronavirus|Not Infected But Certainly AffectedEvery time there is an event that captures the attention of practically everyone, I try to look around and consider things. The many people infected with the virus are focused on their health, getting well and keeping their families safe. During any normal flu season, the rest of us would be going about our business and living our lives as usual. This year things are quite different. The virus we are experiencing now has affected all of us.

Even though you may feel physically fine, you are living a very different life. The way we do things and speak has changed dramatically. The word social is taking on a new role in our modern language. Social media is our connection to the rest of the world outside of our homes. Social distancing dictates how we interact with each other in person if you are lucky enough to go out. Social gatherings are a distant memory. We are now more aware of everything and everyone we touch.

Did you ever think it would be more offensive to shake someone’s hand then to back away from them in horror? It felt strange at first but now that everyone is doing it, it feels normal. Forget about a hug, if you try that you’ll get the same reaction as if you pulled a knife.

Working from home is a new concept for most people. Working in instead of working out at the gym to stay in shape. Even TV personalities are broadcasting from home. We are all becoming internet personalities. Posting our new pastimes on social media to entertain others who have become bored due to their isolation. I saw someone hold up a sign that said, Will work for toilet tissue! Those of us in essential services are still working, but things are very different. No more rush hour, it feels like we are rushing through all of them.

At times of crisis you will also see something you don’t always notice. The unlikely heroes who show up to help those who really need it. Even though we are experiencing an economical effect, we have for the most part put the basic need for our health ahead of everything else. Just when you thought the world was becoming more cynical and people more self-absorbed, we show a different side of ourselves. I have never felt so much satisfaction delivering toilet tissue to someone. People are so grateful for the little things. Things they took for granted are more appreciated. We thank those who deliver essentials for us and those who are working hard in the medical field to save lives.

Maybe the loss of human interaction will make us appreciate it much more now. Perhaps the human experience will take the place of material things. We spent so much time wishing our lives away. How many times have you said I need a vacation or I can’t wait to get away? We don’t often stop to enjoy where we are and who we are with. Now we are so thankful just to be healthy. Your car, your clothes and all your possessions cannot make you happy. Happiness is inside of you, you just need to bring it to the surface. Be happy you are alive and healthy, there are so many who are not. Doing something for someone else is the most fulfilling thing. Even if all you can do is cheer someone up, you are spreading hope and making their day a little better.

When you focus on the little things they add up to big things. Making the best of each day can lead to the best life. Treat negativity like the virus. If someone is full of negative energy and is trying to bring other people down, avoid them. I highly recommend social distancing in those cases. They are highly toxic and contagious and you need to make sure you don’t catch it. No matter how bad things are for you remember that there are others who are worse off. Try to make someone feel better about themselves not worse about you. You really want to spread something, spread cheer. Find something positive and build on it. Today’s hope makes tomorrow a success. We just may build some new relationships and have something good come out of this. Let the effect of the infection make us better people, the kind of people you wouldn’t mind being quarantined with.


About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Glenn GreeleyGlenn Greeley is founder of CGI Commercial Cleaning Group headquartered on Long Island, New York. For more information visit www.cleaninggroupinc.com, call 631-669-6033, or email [email protected]

Forget Balance: How COVID-19 Drives Home the Importance of Work-Life Blending

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article |Work-Life Blending|Forget Balance: How COVID-19 Drives Home the Importance of Work-Life BlendingAs COVID-19 began to move throughout the US, organizations reacted quickly to enable employees to “work from home.” For many leaders, this was a shock and they struggled to effectively adapt their organization to a blended world. The myth of work/life balance was prevalent in many companies as they failed to recognize the trends pointing to increased integration of work and life. The concept of work/life balance, or the separation between work and life, was dealt a huge blow with the outbreak of COVID-19. The novel coronavirus forced leaders of hierarchical, on-site, 9-5 businesses to acknowledge what should have been blatantly obvious: work and home life can no longer be looked at as being balanced but should be viewed as blended.

COVID-19 simply accelerated the trend that has been taking place for years. In my TEDx Talk, Blendification® of Work and Life, I highlight that social, technological, and economic impacts are forcing work and life together. The work/life balance myth has run its course. Here are some observations from the focus on work/life balance:

Work/life balance has become a cover for “look at how hard I am working.” Over the years, I have never heard anyone say, “I need more balance, I am spending way too much time with my family.” More accurately, it is the reverse. People are constantly saying they “need more balance,” which is code for “I am working too hard” or “look at how hard I am working.” They are typically bringing attention to their work ethic as if it is a badge of honor. As a result, work/life balance has turned into a personal proclamation about my strong work ethic at the expense of my personal and family life.

Work/life Balance creates an adversarial relationship between the two. When pursuing work/life balance, an adversarial or competitive relationship becomes prevalent. When this happens, people begin to keep score. It is not uncommon to hear people add up their work hours and become frustrated when they exceed what they consider “balanced.” The pursuit of balance is a futile quest. If you are pursuing your human potential, you cannot separate work and life. You will never achieve equilibrium between the two.

Work and home life do not happen in averages. Life happens in extremes, but we talk about it in averages. As someone once told me: “If I have one foot in a boiling hot bucket of water and the other in ice cold water, the average is fine, but I am not feeling fine!” That describes work and home life. There are constant demands that create the need to be in one area or the other. With fluctuating and conflicting demands, pursuing balance is unrealistic.

While work/life balance has proven to be a myth, blending work and life is more realistic and aligns with social, technological, and economic trends. There are two aspects to consider when blending work and life: the physical and the psychological. Here are some insights into each:

Physical Blending Work and Life

As the novel coronavirus swept the world, companies scrambled to create work-from-home capabilities. As mentioned, this accelerated the trends that were already taking place. Organizations quickly leveraged technology to enable a transition from working in an office to working from home. In some cases, this was done hastily because there were tangible deadlines and corresponding health consequences. As work becomes more integrated physically with homelife, here are ideas that will be helpful going forward:

  • Provide guidance to employees (directional and financial) in setting up dedicated workspace.
  • Make recommendations on boundaries to reduce “interference.”
  • Update policies and procedures with detailed expectations related to working from home.
  • With increased risk of technology and security breaches, make sure you have updated your protection and keep enhancing it since hackers see an opportunity in penetrating our data.
  • Maintain standards in work attire for those participating in online meetings.
  • Create dedicated technology-driven social events.

Psychologically Blending Work and Life

While most of the focus has been on the physical aspects of blending work and life, the true benefits of a blended life are psychological. The millennial generation has opened our eyes to the need to pursue our human potential by positively impacting the world. Given that we spend over 50% of our waking time at work or in work-related activities, we cannot possibly realize our human potential without incorporating work. As a result, the workplace becomes one of the primary areas where people pursue their potential and maximize their impact on society.

What happens at work, happens at home, and this inherent connection is key to creating a better workplace, better homelife, better customers, and better communities. When workplace organizations recognize the importance of growing and developing their employees—not just their job-related skills, but their personal and leadership skills—they will see happier and more fulfilled employees taking pride in their entire life. Here are some points related to developing the psychological aspects of blending work and life:

  • Develop, define, and disseminate your desired culture to make it so compelling and strong that it is alive when employees are working from home.
  • Align your culture with a motivating cause.
  • Create a strategic platform that sets clear strategic focus, outcomes, and actions that are connected to the organization’s culture and cause.
  • Cascade the strategic platform throughout the company through internal peer accountability groups (we call them Roots Groups in The Blendification® System).
  • Institute ongoing training and development around activating your employees’ human potential, leading to greater lifelong fulfillment.
  • Build an ongoing communication and operating system that blends your culture, strategy, and execution, linking employees’ daily work to meaningful outcomes.

The illusion of work/life balance has been revealed with the response to the COVID-19 outbreak. It is time to embrace the trends that have been taking place for years and leverage work to enhance employees’ lives, customers’ lives, and the benefits to their communities. Since COVID-19 accelerated working from home, business leaders now have the opportunity to increase their company’s impact by blending work life and homelife.


About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Dan BruderDan Bruder is the CEO of Fusion Dynamics Group, an international strategy and leadership consulting firm based in Colorado. He has an accomplished background in executive leadership and is a faculty member of Colorado State University’s Executive MBA program and the University of Colorado, Boulder’s Graduate Leeds School of Business. Drawing on his 30-plus years of leadership experience, he created The Blendification® System: Activating Potential by Connecting Culture, Strategy and Execution. The Blendification® System book is available on Amazon as well as through a series of workshops and keynotes. Learn more about The Blendification® System, at www.BlendificationSystem.com

COVID-19 Brings An Entirely New Dimension To Risk Management

StrategyDriven Risk Management Article |Risk Management Strategy|COVID-19 Brings An Entirely New Dimension To Risk ManagementRisk management has always been an essential pillar of managing a successful company. But the current global pandemic is bringing it into sharp relief and showing many firms that their existing strategies simply aren’t up to the task.

In the past, executives planned for a range of common disaster scenarios: data loss, power outages, flooding, and financial collapse. For many, though, the current pandemic came out of left field. The majority of bosses didn’t see it coming. It wasn’t even on their radar.

COVID-19 is a “white swan” event, not a black swan, according to Nicholas Taleb, the man who came up with the definition. He points out that the world knew about the risk of a global pandemic but instead chose it to ignore it. In his view, the coronavirus that started in China is something that was a known risk (like an asteroid impact). Therefore, it was something that people could plan for.

He contrasts it with the experience during the financial crisis where nobody could see how events might play out (because of the complexity of the financial system).

Risk management, therefore, needs to change fundamentally. Companies can no longer go about their business, assuming that everything will continue as usual. We’re now living in a world where every executive knows that things can come to a screeching halt overnight with practically no warning. The challenge is to ensure that companies survive.

So, what changes are we likely to see?

StrategyDriven Risk Management Article |Risk Management Strategy|COVID-19 Brings An Entirely New Dimension To Risk ManagementCompanies Will Insure Against More Known Risks

Now that executives have had a taste of real risk, we’re going to see them increase their demand for business interruption insurance. More companies will want to know that they have a safety net, should something similar happen in the future. Furlough schemes protect workers, but they don’t provide comprehensive cover to allow companies to escape tricky market conditions following a disaster. Even with government support, a lot of companies we know and love today won’t be here in the future.

Companies Will Save More

Over the last decade, companies have borrowed a tremendous amount of money. Part of it has to do with their desire to boost their stock price, but a large part of it has to do with the fact that borrowing is now so much cheaper. Capital was once scarce, but today, we live with an abundance of the stuff. This fact pushed interest rates down to the point today where the average firm can borrow at a couple of percent, perhaps less.

The current crisis, however, has revealed to executives how dependent they are on lines of credit. If the money dries up in the future because of some catastrophic event, they will need to fall back on their reserves. And, currently, they don’t have much of those. Most firms are living on a knife-edge, unnecessarily.

Risk management practices are likely to change substantially, moving forward. Companies have had a taste of what an economic catastrophe looks like, and they’ll be planning so that they aren’t wrong-footed by the next one.

Turn to Multidimensional Employees for Identifying New Business Models

StrategyDriven Managing Your People Article |New Business Models|Turn to Multidimensional Employees for Identifying New Business ModelsCompanies can find untapped value in their employees when working to solve current challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic. This involves utilizing a Make Your Case initiative that allows employees to apply their unused skillsets and connections in opening up new ways for their companies to operate.

Surprisingly, employers don’t often care to know about or think to utilize the stockpile of unused resources their employees bring. They tend to view skills outside of their employees’ job descriptions as irrelevant to the scope of normal business operations. It’s possible that employers simply don’t see the value that such extraneous abilities or connections can generate.

But given the shockwaves reverberating from the market disruption that’s taking place, many normal business models are no longer operational, and new models must emerge. Companies would benefit from turning to the untapped expertise of their multidimensional employees for new ideas through Make Your Case solutions to the rising challenges.

For example, in this unprecedented shelter-in-place environment, consider the value inherent in the information sharing taking place through social media. Networks of people are utilizing their own knowledge and past experiences to advise others on meeting the challenge of remaining isolated in their homes. People share their experiences of living through hurricanes, surviving in post-war Kosovo, and living in a remote outpost in Alaska, for example, as tried-and-true ideas for working and remaining connected in difficult circumstances. The social media forum is a plethora of innovative solutions not only for connecting with co-workers and customers while sheltering in the place, but also remaining socially connected — think virtual happy hours.

Compare the diverse and innovative social media postings with some of the messaging coming from companies during this pandemic. The emails and posts coming from the business sector lack variety, color and the ability to engage. Companies regularly communicate that they are aware of the hardships to customers, vendors and employees during this time. Yet, besides possible changes in delivery methods or product discounts, the companies’ information lacks flavor and innovation.

Yet many of the same people with clever ideas on social media also work for companies who could use some creativity to their approach. These very people have experience in dealing with work disruptions or isolation, and they’ve accumulated amazing personal, social, and professional capital that can be utilized by their companies in their organizational recalibration.

Companies often acknowledge the importance of diversity. Yet, they tend to overlook opportunities to explore the diversity of experiences and interests that employees bring beyond their work responsibilities. But involving more diverse ideas will help in responding to this crisis. Companies will benefit from understanding that the diversity of multidimensional employees’ perspectives can be of enormous value to them.

In Make Your Case initiatives, companies invite employees to utilize their multidimensional core and contribute their original perspectives on challenges that the company currently faces. The process is similar to design thinking, with a different emphasis for idea creation. Instead of brainstorming a creative new idea, employees reference their multidimensional experiences outside of work and employ them in a proposed solution.

The Make Your Case process involves:

1. Outline the idea. Employees initially summarize their idea through the filter of the company’s case challenge to ensure their understanding of the challenge and its context. Make Your Case company reviewers make sure the idea is grounded in the appropriate context before inviting authors to continue.

2. Describe applicability of the solution. The authors illustrate their idea with a personal story of how the solution worked in other settings. As their ideas come from outside the work setting, it’s important to treat the Make Your Case solution as a proposal that may need more specifics.

3. Share ideas for implementation. Using what they know of the company, the authors indicate which parts of their proposed solution can be implemented immediately, and which will need additional resources. Company reviewers who are now vested in the idea will likely help facilitate finding resources and funding to expedite implementation of the solution.

4. Fine-tune specifics. Together with company reviewers, the authors tailor specifics of their solution to the company challenge. This includes providing an action plan of how the solution will be carried out.

Make Your Case initiatives engage employees by inviting them to demonstrate their unique multidimensional cores. By providing their innovative solutions and helping to implement them in a way that addresses a pressing challenge, employees are given an opportunity to craft their own edge within the company.

The company benefits from a pipeline of solutions that have been tested in other contexts and tailored to the reality of this particular challenge.


About the Author

Julia Ivy, PhD Psych, PhD Mgmt, is a strategy and international business executive professor and faculty director at Northeastern University. Her area of expertise is in bridging strategy and psychology in the concept of personal strategy. In addition to her academic work, she acts as an executive coach for those facing the “What’s next?” challenge. Her new book is Crafting Your Edge for Today’s Job Market: Using the BE-EDGE Method for Consulting Cases and Capstone Projects (Emerald Publishing, Oct. 7, 2019). Learn more at be-edge.com.