“When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands.”
Uncertainty continues to reign in the UK, and this is having a particularly negative influence on people in the insurance industry.
Most large insurance companies have strong international links and due to the economic and intricately legislative nature of these, Brexit is causing a lot of concern. Concern about maintaining or growing business performance, but also concern for people’s wellbeing and resilience. For instance, the probable loss of passporting rights and the knock-on need for new sets of rules and regulations is undoubtedly going to require a lot of investment of time and resource. Hence, a rise in uncertainty may not only need to lead to increased anxieties and stresses, but ‘less urgent priorities’ such as soft skills training may get sidetracked. Helping people develop the skills to be connected, agile and resilient is going to be vital for success over the coming years, so how can HR and L&D professionals best manage people’s development in these uncertain times?
We can start by shining a light on the massive importance of connectedness. Connectedness can then be the beacon to guide our thinking and actions over the coming months and years.
Connection is paramount because separation is the source of so much that damages performance and wellbeing at work. This separation comes in many forms: within teams (‘superficial connections’), between teams (‘silo mentality’), across layers of hierarchy (‘us vs. them’), from the bigger picture (‘I just do my bit’), from our own authentic selves (‘wearing a mask’) and between managers and people on their team (‘awkward conversations’).
The best interventions to help buffer Brexit uncertainties are the ones that reconnect people to each other, to our common purpose, and to our best selves. Here are three ways we can do that (without the need for costly programmes of work).
Opening Up Conversations
The power of conversation rarely fails to inspire us at B&F. Bear a few things in mind when preparing for the conversations, and the outcome can be mightily impressive. We recommend giving people a safe platform to be respectfully listened to. Empower them to be involved in discussions about working culture. Guide these conversations to be positive and solutions focused, and through the sharing of experiences and ideas people will connect, learn and grow together. They’ll be stronger and more resilient, and able to adapt as need be in uncertain times.
Click here for a free tool to open up conversations in your organisation.
Creating High Quality Connections
Workplace culture can be transformed through building and nurturing ‘High Quality Connections’ (Dutton, 2003). These are relationships marked by mutual positive regard, trust and respectful engagement, and are surprisingly quick and simple to build. They energise people, build bridges between silos, and negate the need for ‘difficult conversations training’ by strengthening the authenticity and honesty of managers and their team members. Training that gives people an understanding of High Quality Connections and how to build them is short, sharp and impactful, so very helpful if soft skills training budgets are being cut.
Click here for a free tool to build High Quality Connections in your organisation.
Bringing Play into Work
Psychologists are realising that humans are biologically programmed to play – and respecting this deep need for play into our adulthood has many benefits:
– building new neural connections, helping us learn and grow
– helping us solve problems creatively
– bonding people for great collaboration
It also has been said that peak performance and mastery develop from the playful urge, which is intrinsically motivated, deeply rewarding and self-directed (Stuart Brown, 2009). And we don’t need to bring board games into the office to bring play into the work environment. It is better achieved by simply giving people more understanding of their unique character strengths and empowering them to play to those strengths more often at work. This does not need to be a timely or costly intervention, and seeing how much creative problem solving and collaboration will be required in the insurance industry in the near future, it would be an intervention well worth considering.
Click here for a free tool to bring more play into your organisation’s culture.