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Discover What’s Key to Thriving By Christine Talbot

 

Do you know what will be key to thriving in what’s coming next?

Thriving in what is ahead of me is on my mind.  I’m sitting at my kitchen table working from home in month sixteen of our organization’s pandemic remote work plan. Our organization has decided to return to offices on a hybrid schedule beginning October 1st, requiring a minimum of two days on site.

Current Reality

As the SVP of HR, leading in these past 16 months has meant countless decisions. They ranged from the mundane process decisions around how to give employees the opportunity to pick up their computer chargers to the high-stakes communication around how we raise the possibility of layoffs to staff. I also led the thinking with our senior team that enabled our organization to adopt this post-pandemic new way of hybrid-flexible working. It would seem like the perfect scenario to feel accomplished. We finally can let out that deep breath and look forward to getting back to business as usual. But instead — I’m dreading it!

Adjusting to New Patterns

I’ve grown to like it here at my kitchen table “office” with fresh air through the sliding doors. I enjoy the abundance of birds that entertain throughout the day. There is an ease when I slip right into work with little preparation and no driving.

As an employee, I’ve learned to balance this blended work and home environment. I found ways to be more productive with less distractions and more freedoms than the prior office-based arrangement.

As a manager, I’ve worked hard to remain connected with staff. I increased my technological savvy for virtual and spontaneous huddles, lead meetings, and keep the cadence of our department and 1:1 meetings.

As a senior leader, I notice, and enjoy, the more informal connection with my peers. I literally see more of my team holistically through the brief conversations with children nearby — a small hand appearing on the screen, a request for help from another child competing for someone’s attention. And even enjoying the new COVID puppy yelping in the background. These on-screen sightings have warmed my heart and given new appreciation for the wholeness of team members.

Embracing a New Normal

With all the adaptions and new type of connections I’ve experienced I now realize that even more change is required of me as a leader going into the next phase of work life.

For leaders, this next phase can’t be back to business as usual. Instead, to be successful it’s got to be a period instead of careful change management. No less complex or deliberate than the processes that have dominated the last few months.

So what does that look like? I believe it will take a combination of being intentional, aware and compassionate. I believe compassion will be the most important to thriving.

Intentional

Sure, I will take with me into the post-pandemic hybrid work environment all the technology skills, the accomplishments in unusual conditions, and the coping skills to manage work from anywhere seamlessly.  But I need to mentally gear up for the return to the office and the split schedule between office and home (or wherever!). I need to establish, or re-establish, some new routines. I need to consciously plan now for most meetings to be conducted in a hybrid manner.  I need to plan to be seen fully, to stop in the hallway, to keep adapting to the needs of my team and peers.

Awareness

To do all this continuous adapting, I need first to embrace the coming season of more change and some loss. I know it’s true that my leadership effectiveness through more change is only as good as my honesty with myself about how this experience is for me.

I do feel a new set of trade offs coming, and some losses, as I anticipate the October return to the office.  This recent awareness led me to think that if I am experiencing these feelings, others are likely as well.

Compassion

This is a leadership season in which compassion has become more than a feeling. It is a critical leadership competency.  This competency is rooted in personal authenticity and seeing others for their experience through the pandemic, and also coming out of it. It is key to thriving in what’s next! I’m instructed by Scripture to clothe myself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience (Col.3:12).  Doing so in the present circumstances with my team and other staff means that I notice the challenges, enter into the stressors, care about the change demand, and take actions to make the path smoother for the re-entry to our offices and adoption of the hybrid work schedule.

I also acknowledge that the next round of change I’ll ask of my team comes at a time when there may not be much capacity available for yet another pivot, even one that will restore in person connections, collaboration, and celebration. So then, my own discomfort allows me to give others the safe place to do what I am doing now, preparing to change how I work again.

Today I am not happy about making this return to the office, but I’m getting ready to lead others through it by being honest with myself and leaning into the change process. In this way, I can be ready to serve others as they do the same.  Let’s be those Christ-like leaders that lead the way by example and with compassion. Let’s work together to create thriving environments.

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Christine Talbot is the Senior Vice President of Human Resources for World Vision U.S.. She is passionate about creating an empowering work environment in which all team members can unleash their unique talents and gifts to fulfill World Vision’s mission of life in all its fullness for every child.  Christine also serve on the Christian Leadership Alliance board.

 

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