As I read the news about the impacts of the COVID pandemic on our society, I am struck by how diverse and deep the impacts are.
The big ones about case numbers, health, wellness, and economic impacts are well documented and truly frightening.
I started thinking about the other impacts that may have long term effects on the professional community of which I am a part of.
The COVID pandemic has driven a lot of teams to work in a dispersed and remote approach, making the interfaces more challenging. While many people are very effective delivering and/or receiving information online and via web meetings, nothing can truly replace the collaborative energy that comes with in-person working. Face to face working positively impacts the socialization, development, and growth of the team. Team building is really important.
Working from home also has its own challenges for many people. Long hours in online meetings is taxing. It gets compounded when juggling schooling for children. I am concerned about burn-out, people becoming disengaged, and being left behind.
When I entered the professional workforce after post-secondary school, I was very fortunate to be surrounded by people that had vast experience and a willingness to share, coach, and mentor the more junior people on the team. It was such a vital component in the development of the skillsets of those people. I am forever grateful to the people that saw this as part of their commitment to not only expanding the knowledge base in our professional community but in participating in the development
of the successive generation of workers. It was not just ‘part of the job’. As my career progressed, I also felt very empowered by the strong female leaders that I was starting to encounter more often. This had a huge impact on me and motivated me.
I feel that we are at risk of stalling the development and growth of the more junior people that are currently in the workforce. We need to ensure that the mentorship continues and that the default is not just having the senior people execute the tasks because it may take less time than patiently educating someone to learn and undertake the tasks themselves. This failure to invest in the development of the team costs in so many ways.
The more junior members of the team need to feel valued, know that they are getting challenged appropriately, growing professionally and that their contribution means something. The more senior folks need to know that their experience and knowledge is valuable in their work and that the legacy they are creating through their mentorship is one of proficiency and excellence in execution.
There are opportunities for educational growth through online training programs that are a good option if the schedule and budgets allow. That, in itself, sends a message that the organization is interested in investing in developing their workforce. Good mentorship programs are a key component of the development as well. The development does not have to stop because of the pandemic.
It is imperative that the team members understand the objectives of the organizational leadership team and how they can support this as individuals in their roles. There has been a lot of uncertainty over the past year, and it is not yet over as we continue to deal with the pandemic as a society and professional community. We can certainly influence, through our actions and values, how we will emerge from the pandemic. It is easy to keep our eyes on the bottom line of the business, however, there is no business without an effective and committed team.
By respecting and investing in every member of the team, we support the growth of our organizations and the broader professional community.
Strong leadership will help organizations minimize the impacts of the pandemic as much as possible. Strong leaders will ensure that no one gets left behind.