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Skills for change

The modern workplace is a place of change, and the Covid-19 crisis has brought that sharply into focus. Even in pre-pandemic times, there were many changes taking place in the modern workplace with the rapid pace of digitalization and a constantly evolving political and social landscape.

And while the virus may not be here to stay, change will be constant. Employer-provided personal development training and coaching should prioritise equipping people with the tools they need to cope with change, before focusing on specific skills. Training strategies should incorporate personal development plans that help people to adapt and be open to new ways of learning and working; coaching people to be agile and resilient gives them a strong foundation for the more specific training they may need as part of their roles.

And, while any form of training provides valuable benefits for employees, focusing on coping with change gives people the tools they need to be receptive and open to the inevitable disruption that will happen in the workplace in one form or another. Even if their job description remains the same, the way the role is approached will constantly evolve due to advances in technology and the constantly changing external factors.

People need to be constantly developed, otherwise they’ll become bored and look elsewhere.  But development should be approached on a more rounded level, by encouraging employees to look more at how they need to adapt to perform their role effectively, what improvements are possible and how efficiencies can be created. Specific training may be required in technology or customer service, but creating a culture where people feel valued should be the starting point.

This culture of learning and embracing change has to be driven from the top, with really strong values that are put into practice as part of the everyday work people carry out. Leaders and managers should be developed as coach trainers, not just line managers – a strong learning culture should allow people to reflect on what they’re learning as they carry out their roles.

In practical terms, this could be anything from one-to-one coaching for the more senior leaders, mentoring from within or outside the organisation for talent that’s being developed and peer-to-peer learning for teams, with a range of materials designed to support and reinforce the learning. Development can be designed and implemented according to the resources the organisation has – what’s important is that the culture is in place to support it.