5 Ways the Pandemic Has Changed Professional Development Forever
It’s debatable that now more than ever in the history of business has it been more essential to concentrate on development. This doesn’t just mean personal development, although all leaders have either learned to adapt and progress through this onslaught of swift change propelled by the advent of the COVID pandemic, but also team development.
Agility has been key; not just to keeping business running as usual, but to evolve and actively thrive through the most challenging period in business’ evolution. Jobs have changed; the Government itself has drawn much attention for noting that not all professions are currently perceived to be ‘viable’, whilst surviving redundancies and furloughs has put the onus on staff to invest in the running of their ship like never before.
And, of course, even before the pandemic, the emphasis placed on the development and honing of soft skills amongst the workforce was considered a key proponent of future business success – this has only become more evident.
However ironically, when businesses go into crisis mode, learning and development are so often the first elements of leadership to fall by the wayside. Yet these things are not ‘nice-to-haves’, they may well define which companies continue to operate in the uncertain future, and which simply do not survive.
But how exactly has the pandemic reshaped professional development? In conversation with Fast Company, Michell Parmlee, Deputy CEO for Deloitte Global, told Fast Company that these changes sit on five key pillars.
Learning in the ‘flow of work’
Professional development takes on many forms, however, it is likely that pre-pandemic, it was defined by dedicated time, either via a learning management system or via learning seminars. Now, the onus is very much on workers to shape and define their earning in whatever way they can. This may come with general encouragement from leaders, however with the move to remote working and a reshuffle of corporate priorities, one of the biggest changes felt in the world of work is the investment in trust. It’s up to you to keep up with your working day, it’s up to you to manage your wellbeing and mitigate burnout and it’s up to you to ensure that you’re on your own track of personal development.
With each passing day, learning and professional development becomes about more than just gaining technical skills, which are always changing – especially as technology advances. Now it’s about fostering and nurturing the capabilities needed to adapt and thrive in a fast-changing workplace and world. It’s about equipping employees with the skills they need to track down relevant information, apply previous knowledge, and work within and lead diverse teams. After all, these are the building blocks of more technical skills.
A digital-first approach
Gone are the days of travelling to a learning centre to delve into days of technical training. For the moment, workers are likely confined to the safety of their homes, meaning that any additional training must be digital first. This may come in the form of webinars, streamed seminars or workshops via Zoom or Skype, but the majority of workers, especially for those juggling the balance between working and home life, prefer to learn via centralised learning systems that allow them to conduct learning at their own pace, and potentially in their own time.
For managers, allowing development to fall by the wayside should be viewed as completely unacceptable, even in times of hardship such as these. This means implementing a clear structure to workers that allows them to stick to KPIs and targets in the knowledge that these will be assessed, and not just left to fizzle out. Communication has been a key talking point throughout the pandemic but wellbeing isn’t the only element of comms structures that must survive the move to remote working. It may be up to workers to devise their own plan for personal development, but it’s still very much the job of a manager to oversee it and ensure it’s taking place.
Time not just to develop, but to step away
Everyone is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in their own way. Some may have found that the move to remote working has dramatically upped productivity as the stress of the office and commuting becomes a past memory. However, others are struggling mentally and physically with the change. As such, leaders must promote positive wellbeing as well as personal development. In fact, taking time away fro L&D when feeling overwhelmed is just as important as doing it in the first place. It’s essential not to forget that, however, ‘business as usual’ the new normal feels for you, for others this is a time of struggle, and processes may well be impacted by this.
Source: HR Grapevine