(by Simone Lawrence)
Uncertainty stresses employees
In the often-quoted term, the VUCA world, in which organizations operate, there is one letter of this acronym that stands out most regarding its impact on people- the U for the uncertainty. Given that higher levels of uncertainty contribute to rising stress levels, consider the potential implications for people in workplaces during the global pandemic, where nothing is predictable. How does that unpredictability influence the need for a different leadership model to pre-pandemic models, and what different support modes could benefit organizations and their people?
Leveraging what was always there
It has been no surprise that the leaders and organizations are taking a closer look at the impact of employee behavior around uncertainty and have started to adapt. For example, organizations are becoming more giving and agile in their work together and moving away from traditional performance appraisals. Infrequent development conversations that occur with the same person, are being replaced with more regular development conversations between broader people than the line manager. Gaining valuable insights and support from peers, colleagues, leaders, and direct reports in integral, regular, and ongoing activities. Netflix is an example of how one organization changed things up to incorporate development conversations between peers rather than leaving all the development to the leader.
Mentoring shows that you care as an organisation
Organizations have an opportunity to become more inclusive by adopting the overlooked practice of in-house Mentorship. The increased levels of uncertainty that impact rising stress levels combined with an emerging awareness that more relational people approaches are favorable are examples of outstanding leadership through uncertain times. Organizations need to adopt a new model of increasing relational approaches through leveraging internal relationships and resources, setting up processes and systems that encourage interactivity, and a genuine desire to support each other’s growth. The opportunity has been there along and, for one reason or another, has been frequently overlooked. Organizations pairing up or grouping up their employees to receive the support they need through Mentorship are onto something transformational. Definitions of mentoring, list the kind of sought-after qualities on the wish list for organizations regarding the behaviors they want to develop in people. Listening, empathy, knowledge and experience sharing, caring, and wisdom exchange are among these behaviors, and mentoring is an opportunity for employees to exhibit and develop them further. Corporate value sets often comprise words related to this kind of behavior, such as connection, progression, trust, caring, and innovation. Mentoring could be one of the most potent influences on employee development available to organizations today to help bring these corporate values sets from dormant writing on a wall to being lived and demonstrated daily. Improving the felt experience of employees and creating the spin-off effect for increased employee engagement, retention, job satisfaction, and career progression.
Get ready for the future
Designing and incorporating an in-house mentoring program is best done hand in hand with somebody who has walked in those shoes before you and has experience setting up and running mentoring programs. Due to the long-term nature that an internal mentorship program will serve, being provided with a framework, guidelines, and support on your internal communication plan and development is easier to roll out with the right help. Starting with an internal check-in on the topic can reveal a surprisingly strong appetite for an in-house mentoring program. Organizations who embrace in-house mentoring programs will survive and thrive through uncertainty by creating and sustaining a reputation as an organization that puts the need of their people first and walks the talk by providing the much-needed support at all levels.