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How to be an agile and resilient Manager?

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As a Customer Experience consultant I help managers take actions on their digital roadmap. I have a strong customer-centric mindset and use proven methodologies which I have developed over the last ten years.

I launched this Podcast to help managers understand the reality of digital transformation and the struggles they may face in trying to make it a success. 

These weekly podcasts include People Stories and Digital Revolutions. The sharing of these real life experiences reinforce my belief that digital transformation is not just about technologies. It’s about people working together and learning to change their habits quickly and positively.

And it’s always a good moment to start.

Putting people first

My overarching vision puts people at the center of every discussion surrounding digital. This is because people are the number one challenge I have encountered throughout my career.

I know I’m not the only one challenged by people but, weirdly, this is not usually a ‘hot topic’.

When it comes to digital, people talk about data, tools, technologies, algorithms, artificial intelligence, hacks, optimizations, and so on. All relevant, all fascinating. But what about people?

People should always be the primary focus given all of these digital topics depend entirely on people!

On this basis, I prepared information we could explore together concerning people-focused digital marketing and ways to increase expertise in Customer Journeys; all to help you examine your professional career and foster your leadership.

Then lockdown hit and almost everything changed…

Digital marketing and COVID-19

Coronavirus changed the context drastically and global uncertainties became apparent at every level. I started making plans daily and wondering whether digital transformation was still a priority? And would it be once this was over?

Despite the on-going uncertainty, I believe in the power of actions so I want to propose something useful to help you get through this.

Given I chose now to launch a podcast, whilst what I planned to share with you over the coming weeks will remain relevant, I will start a bit differently than originally intended.

As a consultant, I often start from scratch when I have a new assignment. So I developed a method to make myself a “Plug & Play” consultant, adaptable to any situation. 

I’m good at change, and new ideas – it’s part of my daily life – but I’m not saying it’s easy…
Change can be stressful and frightening, especially when it comes out of the blue.

Believe me, if you’re feeling like this, I understand the discomfort – I had better plans for 2020 as well.
However, I not only understand what you’re going through, I can help you overcome it, too.

That is why I decided to start this journey by sharing the leadership development steps and questions that will help you get back to work in a ‘new normal’.

Nobody knows what the situation will be after this health crisis, but we can prepare ourselves; embrace the change and understand the needs of people: colleagues, bosses, teammates, customers, and competitors.

How to be an agile and resilient manager in times of change

The pandemic has already taken care of what would normally be the first step in becoming an agile and resilient manager – to challenge your ideals and beliefs. 

We are all currently facing the truth and reality of our life choices, 24/7. We’re working with the cards we’ve been dealt together – it’s not the right time for challenging your ideals or reconsidering the paths you’ve taken. 

So we can skip straight to the second of my four steps, for which positivity and an open mind are real assets.

Here is the formula I recommend for becoming resilient and agile leaders:

1. Adjust your mindset

A crisis greatly affects people; you and your mental health must remain the priority. 

If business is your main concern right now, and deserves your energy, these two things will help you to thrive:

  • Maintaining a positive attitude; it’s contagious and there’s a silver lining in every situation. It’s not always immediately obvious, but – trust me – you’ll see it eventually.

  • Keep moving. Actions are magic. You may not know which way you’re going, but don’t stop except to take a breath – build resilience.

This positive mindset will help you to cope with stress, make decisions and bring a dynamism to your team initiatives.

As a leader, you need to make sure your own battery is fully charged first! Your wellbeing is the priority so have self compassion; take the time you need to be able to be an effective leader. 

Through self-awareness and keeping on top of your own self-care, you can stay optimistic and successfully lead your team through these often traumatic times.

2. Be knowledgeable

You need to understand the context, the situation. I don’t recommend plugging into a continuous media flow of information – I feel this is unhealthy and raises anxiety.

Instead, assemble relevant information ecosystems by selecting experts, credible media and trusted sources. These should provide regular updates from which to build reliable intelligence related to your business.

Take the time to observe and understand. Be critical and continually build an agile ‘big picture’. 

Once you have this, share it. Communicate with each team member the necessary information and any changing priorities. By communicating in this way you will inform and motivate your staff to continue achieving their objectives and learn from what just happened. 

Now is a critical time for flexing not just your communication skills but also your people skills. Imbue your team with positive emotions as well as information. 

As a manager, you already know their competencies so motivate, delegate and allow your team to work to their strengths. Give feedback, be available for problem solving assistance, and ensure there is a clear information flow. This empowerment should promote effective teamwork.

3. Define or update your WHY, your purpose

Now everything is slower, it’s a good moment to reflect on your “WHY” – on the purpose of your brand, products, services, or even your company.
You will need to learn how to adapt to the ‘new normal’. With a bunch of new choices to make, these will be easier if you know the very reason your company exists. 

Make sure you can define your vision by answering a simple question:
What is the impact of your contribution and how does it help others?

This is not about money; your answer is your purpose. Why do you get out of bed every morning and why is it important right now?Update this if necessary so you can stay relevant and catch new opportunities in the upcoming ‘new normal’. 

4. Ask your Client

Reach out and stop using the crisis in your communications if you are not actually helping in any way.
Make a list of questions, call your clients, make sure you are available for them, make sure it’s easy for them to contact you and LISTEN attentively.
Yes, this all costs money and spending can be uncomfortable right now – you are likely trying to save money. But when it comes to your customers, I advise you to continue investing in them and helping them.

Customers are your biggest assets.

If it’s too late for more expenditure, you can still take your phone and call your 10 best clients. Just talk with them about their issues. You’ll get plenty of valuable information on how to help and have an impact.

From there you should be able to build an exciting vision for your business shaped by your customers’ new realities. We’ll go through the construction of your roadmap in future episodes.

These four steps are interconnected and will influence one another. So don’t see this as a linear process, but more as practices to nurture your vision and your understanding.

To recap…

  1. Adjust your mindset: be positive and open minded
  2. Be knowledgeable: you need to understand and learn
  3. Define or update your WHY (purpose). You want to stay relevant and catch opportunities
  4. Ask your Client. Your clients are your biggests assets right now.

Important soft skills for managers

Soft skills are an important booster when carrying out these steps. I recommend focussing on the following:

  • Pay attention to your communication, show empathy towards co-workers and clients. This situation will impact them in different ways. Train your empathy, it will strengthen your relationships and develop your emotional intelligence

  • It’s ok to change your mind; adapting will not make you look confused, indecisive or misinformed. Remember, you’re in charge, nobody has the solution so you can’t be wrong trying. If you experience failures, they are unlikely to be catastrophic disasters! Just remember to bounce back and learn from them

  • Resilience inspires people. It shows courage and creativity. Keep moving and try things

  • I always encourage managers to experience humility. Don’t help just to look good. Genuinely offer your help and listen when your questions receive answers or to comments. This is when you learn

  • Accept that you’ll be vulnerable. This will probably be new and uncomfortable in a work situation, but it will be your strength in these chaotic times. We humans can appreciate vulnerability and humility when we see it

  • Finally, take care of yourself and the people around you.

I hope you’ll find these elements useful. I can’t wait to hear your feedback and how you’re getting on!

I’d love to hear from you if you have any questions, or want to discuss your own situation. I’m easy to contact on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter – just search my name: Amelie Beerens.

For more digital revolution insight, you can also sign up for my Digital Letters, and subscribe to my podcast, People & Digital.

 

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Amélie Beerens

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