COVID-19 tested all of us in a multitude of ways, including at work. Having to stop working the way we had been for decades, in order to innovate in the moment, has completely reshaped the future of work. And while we’re currently seeing glimmers of hope that COVID-19 could eventually be behind us, there’s no going back, after a period of great experimentation like the one we’ve just been in. 

I’ve identified six key ways you can embrace the future of work and set your people up for success in a new era, which I’ll be expanding on in a free virtual summit called “Rewrite the Playbook” with digital training platform, EdApp, on April 29th. 

We’ve been given the rare opportunity to completely rethink the way we work. Let’s not lose what we’ve worked so hard to gain during this difficult time. 

Treat your employees like adults

At the onset of the pandemic, business leaders were scrambling to find new ways to measure employee performance when social distancing measures and stay-at-home orders made it difficult for management to see how hard they’re working, if they’re at the office, or if they’re using their voice in the meeting.

In reality, these metrics don’t matter.

Measure people by what they get done. You don’t have to keep track of everybody. Oftentimes, it’s a matter of saying, ‘Hey, can you have this done by Friday?’ and you can trust that your employees will follow through.

Scrap performance reviews

When we change the metrics of employee performance from how hard your employees appear to be working to what they actually accomplish, it also requires a change in how frequently they receive performance feedback. 

Previously, performance reviews were usually when managers tell their employees how they’ve gone over the past 12 months. But, oftentimes only recent projects are mentioned, leaving many great projects without recognition. By creating more frequent check-ins, it allows managers and employees to celebrate the wins and quickly correct performance issues before they become a problem. More importantly, it takes away the fear of receiving performance feedback from management, which can actually decrease employee motivation.

Employees are motivated at work when they make progress. So, focus feedback on what will move the project, their career, and ultimately, the business forward.

Tie training to business goals

Before the pandemic, training often took place in a white-walled room or a back-office for an hour. Employees knew that it was something you had to do to pass to either be able to complete your work or receive certification.

Now that many of us were forced to shake previous processes and procedures, it’s an opportunity to give your people the tools they need to learn and be successful. One of the best ways to do this is to build your training with the end-user in mind. This means tying your learning and training back to your organization’s goals and the customer experience. The more your employees know about how and why your company is working toward a specific goal, the better they will be able to fulfill their role in serving the customer.

Model the behavior you want to see

In a time of change, it’s more important than ever to model and encourage the behavior you want to see in your employees. As a leader, you are responsible for setting expectations in how communication, flexibility, and innovation will look like in your company – and embed these behaviors into your company culture.

With this ever-changing landscape of government restrictions, and remote and hybrid work, it’s important that your employees know that it’s safe for them to innovate and fail. This will empower your employees to make decisions in the company’s best interest, as opposed to following processes and procedures that may no longer be effective or relevant.

Determine what’s working

In the learning and development space, we have a bad habit of carrying inefficient processes over and over. No one else in any other part of your organization is allowed to do it, and somehow L&D never throws anything away – we just keep adding more and more. With many people still working from home, it’s ineffective to update all of these existing procedures, processes, and courses. 

Make a list of what’s worked and what’s not to see what trends emerge. Right now, you have the opportunity to optimize how your organization operates and delivers its training. Every day ask yourself: Is that need still there? Is it the same need as when we created it? If we had to do it again, would we?

This will allow you to measure what is driving success to your employee – and therefore the business – as a result of rolling out that course.

No best practices

Most importantly – forget what other learning and development teams are doing. What’s working at Facebook won’t work if you’re a tech start-up. Make your training centered around your organization’s goals to ensure that it’s right for your teams and your business.