Lessons about People Development and Leadership in a Post-Covid-19 World
Lessons about People Development and Leadership in a Post-Covid-19 World

As some parts of the world start to recover from the pandemic, we are cautiously coming to grips with the repercussions, both at work and at home. It is time to look back and assess. What lessons have we learnt about our ways of working? How did we manage with the challenges? What else is left to do in terms of learning and development goals and initiatives?

In 2021, MERIT puts the focus on the three aspects that every business leader and L&D executive needs to consider in their short- and long-term planning. Fitting all three pieces neatly together – people development, leadership development, and organisational development – should help you solve the puzzle for a healthy L&D strategy.

Has your organisation implemented an initiative you are proud of? The MERITs Awards welcome you to the stage to present it.

The power of people development and collaboration

While Covid-19 put established learning processes to the test, the past year also showed us the importance of expanding our range of learning methods and exploring new ways to deliver them. For some organisations, advanced neuroscience research has suggested new learning initiatives or optimising old ones. Others opted to rely on custom-built gamified experiences to encourage engagement and retention of knowledge.

Regardless of the medium, social learning is on the rise, propelled by the availability and ease of online collaboration tools. In 2021 and beyond, learning collaboratively and across departments will remain essential as it unites employees and develops their empathy. Organisations that master cross-departmental training, and have the right structures to facilitate it, will also reap diverse rewards.

Some of the most successful people development initiatives attribute their success to content curation that engages employees in their own learning. When leaders actively involve their workforce in designing important business and change management programmes, employees are more likely to commit to these efforts. As Forbes Magazine pointed out: “People best support change if they feel it’s being done with them and not to them.

Leadership development with a focus on resilience and empathy

Moreover, encouraging people to define their individual career paths and learning goals should reach every level of the organisation. Rather than accepting a one-way cycle of training and promotion, L&D programmes fair best at supporting managers and aspiring leaders to become co-creators of their leadership development.

If there is one other takeaway to remember and build upon, it should be about the leadership skills that proved most important during the crisis. Openness, empathy, resilience, and the ability to communicate will drive organisations and their leaders forward, a report from the CEMS–Global Alliance in Management Education found. “Pre-pandemic, 13% [of respondents] would have pointed to resilience as a necessary leadership skill; post-pandemic, that number increases to 34%,” is further highlighted in the report. It seems that leadership development initiatives that address these core skills will be able to best navigate the “next normal” at the workplace.

Organisational development – indispensable in times of crisis

Francis Lake, head of Organisational Development at Virgin Money, says that while HR facilitates jobs, organisational development encourages businesses to “consider the work that needs doing and match it to the skills and resources required to make it happen”. As important as this role sounds, the responsibility it bears increases significantly during unprecedented times.

Before Covid-19, initiatives in organisational development may have supported companies and steered them during a process of gradual restructuring, for example. During the crisis, organisations had to think on their feet, act faster, and implement measures that are much more profound.

Without the appropriate organisational development efforts, many businesses and institutions would not have been able to handle the restructuring of teams and the formation of new ones, improvements in employee welfare, or enabling virtual recruitment.

Take a moment to recognise the scale of these changes – for your organisation in particular and for the world of work as a whole. To continue the conversation on new ways of learning and spread the word on successful L&D initiatives, join the MERITs Awards in September. Apply now and gain a 10% discount from the upcoming Summit in Lisbon.


By Zornitsa Licheva