Leading in times of crisis, how do you do that? Nobody knows. Never before have we seen so much work happening from home. So we are all, both employees, managers and organisations as a whole, learning and pioneering at full speed.
A major insurance company asked itself: how can we support and accelerate the learning process of our managers? Department A may learn from what is already working in department B. That would help all those involved and strengthen us as an organisation.
Given the setting it was immediately clear: these inspiration sessions will have to be held online. In order to create focus for the design, we started looking for themes that were relevant to participants. Where was the need? This already triggered a lot: the realisation that their peers were puzzling with the same questions and faced similar challenges already had a connecting and energizing effect. Three major themes emerged: organising work online, ensuring that the team remains a team and keeping an eye on everyone's well-being in this time of crisis.
The latter ran like a thread through everything, because working remotely is so intensive. "My brain is burning after a day online" said one of the managers. For their employees, it was the same. Online meetings quickly become solely functional and content oriented. The pace is high and it requires a lot of focus - therefore mental energy. However, if you don't pay attention to the relational dimension, the mental aspect will eventually fail as well. Online platforms are also there for social contact and interaction. An online coffee chat is valuable.
Managers shared these kinds of insights with each other. Moreover, we gave them the opportunity to experience for themselves how to pay attention to the relational dimension in an online meeting by means of a series of exercises. A simple check-in, for example, with questions like: "How are you doing today?" and "How do you manage to combine working at home with kids?". In this way everyone immediately got a feeling for how this works and a sense for how they could apply it even more. In addition, we offered some theoretical concepts. In this case [Kopmanwiel] gave an integral handle for looking at well-being both from a mental, physical, relational and existential point of view - both for themselves and their team.
All in all, we realised a powerful blend of personal conversations, knowledge sharing and outside inspiration. All three had value in accelerating the learning process. What people can discover for themselves using Youtube, blogs or books, they always have to translate into their own practice. The small-scale, interactive sessions helped enormously in this regard. People brought in their own experiences and questions and they help each other to convert inspiration to their own practice. We worked with small groups of 4 to a maximum of 8 people in sessions lasting 1.5 to 3 hours. In the longer sessions, we took a break of course, in which we literally got people moving.
At the end of a session participants were often surprised: "It was so different from a webinar! We've been really active and engaged." Everyone felt space for his or her own story. This created a new point of reference - not only in content, but also in form: how to work and learn online. This gave an important boost to both everyone's personal learning process and that of the entire organisation.