Reflections – Our Top 10 Takeaways from 2020

We may well all be feeling a little bit threadbare by now, but as we look back and unravel this past year, there are some valuable takeaways to accompany us as we make a start on the new patterns that will help us successfully weave ourselves through 2021 (Ok, enough of the haberdashery analogies, they are totally needle-ess) 😃.

We’ve just come out of no man’s land right now, the time of the year where we neither know what day it is, nor whether we are still nursing an alcohol hangover from Christmas day, or a cheese hangover from Boxing day, but whichever it is, let’s hunker down for (yet) another lockdown, accept the fact that we are probably all going to emerge a little more hairy than we’d hoped in 2021 (either that or its time for another home fashioned ‘covid cut’) and take a brief look at what we’ve learned in our top 10 takeaways from 2020:

  1. We have become more lean and agile – yes alright, Greenacre have been banging on about the benefits of an agile workforce for what feels like aaaages, and you were probably getting bored of hearing about it, but we feel thoroughly redeemed now, and have been really happy to have played a part in helping organisations to adapt through their own remote work journeys this year, which has certainly not been easy for many after being thrust into a situation none of us were expecting. And we’ve really learnt a lot from you too.
  1. We are more tech savvy – we are all pretty much Zoom and MS Teams ninjas now (other conferencing apps are available), and we’ve learned some invaluable lessons, such as how to turn our screen backgrounds into the long-awaited beach holiday we had to cancel, how to find the unmute button and how to perfect the art of mime-swearing as unassuming family members approach us in their birthday suits with a cheery coffee as the weekly board meeting is in mid-flow.
  1. We have a bigger sense of community – yes, you absolutely beautiful people, you have shown the world what all-round amazing individuals you are by looking out for your neighbours and vulnerable members of the community and helping family, friends, colleagues and customers during what has probably been the most collective anxiety-ridden time since the second world war. Thankfully, in 2020, we have no Luftwaffe flying overhead and technology has helped us stay in contact and communicate with those who matter to us better than ever, but it has given us a much bigger sense of appreciation and understanding of how others may be struggling within their individual circumstances.
  1. We lead better – Another thing that we have been continuously going on about for a fairly long time here at Greenacre is the gradual transformation of global and organisational leadership from a traditional hierarchical approach to a more autonomous led, empathic and intuitive style (read our Retaining Top Performers series for insights). This transformation has accelerated pretty fast throughout this past year as leaders have realised that these more modern leadership behaviours have needed to be adopted in order to successfully guide their remote teams, organisations, communities and countries through a global crisis. Those leaders with such authentic qualities have led their people most successfully, recovered most quickly and gained the largest amount of trust from their communities.

As an organisation, we’re also pretty chuffed to have played a part in contributing to developing leadership within our own industry at such a crucial time this year by successfully completing our very first Leadership Programme, which will continue to evolve and adapt to industry needs as we head into 2021.

  1. We listen better – another vital, yet often overlooked skill – especially when it comes to leadership – is to listen more, and dictate less. It has become demonstrably more important to understand that each person we work with and each customer we offer our services to are individuals, with complex, individual needs. From understanding how each employee’s home circumstances affect their coping mechanisms, their work, their performance, and most importantly their mental health, to understanding how people adapting their own skill sets can enhance and bring value to the whole team, to really, really listening to feedback and responding to it rather than being reactive, or even worse, inactive…listening has become arguably the most valuable key to overall wellbeing and success.
  1. Mental health is a bigger priority – no longer a dirty word (well alright, phrase), and no longer something that we skirt around, deal with alone, feel ashamed of or feel that our organisational position does not have room for, mental health has emerged as something that everyone must prioritise. Acknowledging honestly how we are coping, showing how human we are as leaders so that our employees can see we are just as vulnerable as they are, and that it’s OK, have been genuinely some of the most wonderful things to witness across the industry this year, as it becomes not just healthy, but fashionable, to show up as our authentic selves.
  1. We collaborate better – we are progressing from a more competitive, winner takes all approach to business into a more collaborative, sharing and caring industrial shift change. As resources have become scarcer, professional skill sets rarer, and our awareness of the bigger global picture evolves, we are realising that in order to not only thrive but offer the very best services to our customers and opportunities to our workforce, collaboration benefits everyone. Sharing experiences, creative energy and innovation has proven to be a successful business pattern.
  1. We’ve learned to be more vulnerable – well, more accurately, we’ve learned to embrace our vulnerability and not hide it so much from the outside world. Just as mental health awareness has grown, having a ringside view of the various meshed and fused parts of each other’s work and private lives for the best part of a year including, but not limited to; children, pets and other family members inadvertently joining in the budgetary review, home deliveries in the middle of meetings, bad hair days, bad shirt days, bad everything days (although thankfully not sharing bad just-been-to-the-gym armpit days, small mercies and all that), we’ve come to accept that we are all human, we all have vulnerabilities and that’s ok.
  1. We’ve learned to set boundaries – Well, hopefully. Remote working has a lot of benefits, but one thing that it does not do is tell us when it’s time to take a much-needed break. It doesn’t clock us off at 5pm or whenever we usually stop working and send us off to join our families, or pop to the gym on the way home. It doesn’t ping us a message telling us we are about to hit the dreaded burnout and need to switch off and recalibrate. It doesn’t tell us to switch off our phones, stop reading emails, stop listening to webinars, podcasts or reading ‘worky’ blogs like this one. These things are all down to us, and remote working requires a different kind of self-discipline and set of boundaries that are as unique and individual as we are.
  1. We’ve remembered what matters – as we gladly switch off the light on our way out the door of 2020, it’s important to look back at what we have gained, how we have evolved, what we have learned and decide just what we want to cast off (sorry) and take with us as we head into the future. This may or may not include the dodgy knitwear (OK, last time now I promise) we’ve acquired from ne’er do wells… I mean well-meaning relatives… but whatever way we choose to look at it, 2021 is going to be a year of great progress, and its looking as though we will collectively be wiser, more united, more supportive, collaborative and innovative as we head off together (even if it continues to be remotely) to shape the future, whatever it may bring. What’s not to love about that?

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