Capabilities for 2021

And yet, what remains true is that we enter the year 2021 armed with learnings from 2020. That we as a human race are far more resilient and adaptable than we give ourselves credit for.


The year 2020 was a year of challenges, with Covid 19 pandemic posing a threat that no one was prepared for. And yet, every individual, organization, government and community, adapted and evolved. We might have struggled, gone through ups and downs emotionally, mentally and physically, but we managed to sustain. The world changed. Life changed. Way of working changed. Consumer behavior changed. And with that we all adapted and evolved. Organizations evolved their business models, restructured, cut down expenses and worked out ways of business continuity. Worldwide lockdown and stringent social distancing with gradual opening let the industry sustain. As news of the vaccine getting approved started coming out towards the end of the year people began to have hope, and then, came the shocker of newer strains of the virus in South Africa, UK and Nigeria. There was yet again renewed uncertainty.

And yet, what remains true is that we enter the year 2021 armed with learnings from 2020. That we as a human race are far more resilient and adaptable than we give ourselves credit for. In 2020, we sustained, in 2021, we will heal, and grow, despite the challenges that might continue to exist. We will throttle through and for that we will need to build around us competencies that will arm us with what we need to deal with the challenges-

1. Emotional Resilience- Each and every individual, whether an individual contributor, a manager, a leader, a home maker, a business owner or an entrepreneur needs to be emotionally strong and resilient to be able to leverage his or her strengths, and of those around. Each person is different and their response to realities around is different. One size does not fit all, and hence enabling our people on identifying their own coping mechanisms and building their emotional resilience will be a key priority for organizations.

2. Managing remote teams- many organizations have extended work from home to April or May, and will decide the re-opening of offices, and way of working as the situation unfolds. This means that managerial capability in the area of managing remote teams needs to be enhanced. This has several parts-

a. Balancing between accountability for results and psychological safety- Yes, business results are important, but managers need to demonstrate to their teams that they have their teams’ back. In these tough times if results are not happening, constant reprimand can strip team members of security and confidence. Success is not about this month’s targets or the next, but about long term success.

b. Listening skills-Managers need to develop listening skills. Remote working has eliminated or significantly reduced interpersonal connect. Listening carefully to team members comments, inputs, doubts and questions, and responding with authenticity, empathy is important. Micro responses in virtual meetings stay with team members, so listening carefully, understanding the nuances and responding with care is required.

c. Providing solutions- As a manager, demanding results is a prerogative, at the same time, providing guidance on how to achieve those results is the

responsibility and accountability of the manager. If the team is struggling, the manager cannot just lay the blame on the team. The manager is equally responsible.

d. Build trust with the team- If the team trusts the manager, they will break all boundaries and strive to achieve stretch goals. Trust is built on consistent, authentic, empathetic, continuous, two-way communication, where solutions to problems are found collaboratively. The current business situation is not easy. Targets are stretched everywhere. And they will get achieved only if the team and the manager work as unit.

While all the above are critical for existing team members, they become all the more important where there are team members who are inducted in the team during lockdown. Where they have not had a chance to work and build relationships in Pre-covid era. In such situations both the manager and team members need to work extra hard to make the new inductee feel included and comfortable.

In 2020, many companies put learning and development budgets on freeze, rightly so, as there were other burning cost considerations. But 2021, they cannot afford to do so. Building the right competencies across all levels will be a key cornerstone to success. There are good costs and bad costs. Investing in building the right capabilities- individual, managerial and leadership, should be seen as an investment in building a sustainable organization that will overcome all challenges.

(The given article is authored by By- Sonica Aron, Founder & Managing Partner, Marching Sheep)

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