Work will return to “somewhat normal,” but it will never go back to the way it was. Very few of us will be consistently collocated with our colleagues. Some people will be at the office. Others will be WFH, and yet others may be in a shared office space, satellite office or other “third place.” So most interactions will be hybrid or even “tribrid.” That means you need to master a new set of skills so you can grow your personal brand and succeed in this new multifaceted environment.
The skills I discuss in this article aren’t always the ones that people are focused on or even consider improving, but they’re essential now and will be even more valuable as the workplace evolves. Whenever the workplace atmosphere becomes more complicated, flexibility becomes more crucial, especially in these eight key areas.
Every professional needs to become a video star. If you’re someone who says, “I hate to be on camera,” it’s time to adopt a new mantra. Interacting via email, text and instant message won’t cut it in the new world of work. You need to use the richest form of media we have (besides being there in the flesh, of course). Video allows you to deliver a complete communication, replete with body language and tone of voice—making it a richer and more powerful way to communicate, engage and connect. Become exceptionally good at both asynchronous and synchronous video (Zoom meetings) so your communications help you stand out.
2. Meeting Technology
You need to master not one, but many different types of meeting platforms. If you’re working with clients or vendors, they may not use the software your company adopted as a standard. That means knowing how to mute your microphone on Webex, Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams and on the dozens of new platforms that are likely to emerge in the coming months and years. In addition to the technology, you need to be mindful of the new expectations of meeting etiquette. Knowing how to run a seamless tribrid meeting, making sure everyone is heard, is a skill everyone will need.
I have always said, listening is among the most important communication tools, yet few of us have ever taken a course in listening. And when I talk about listening, I mean deep listening—the kind of listening executive coaches use to know exactly what’s going on with their clients. It’s harder to listen online, partly because of the numerous distractions and opportunities to try to multitask and partly because communication is made up of more than just words. When you see someone in the postage-stamp box online, you get fewer visual clues to what’s actually going on. This requires more focused attention.
4. Social Media
Social media is not just for Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber. If you abhor social media, it’s time to find a way to love it or at least tolerate it. In our new world of work, your online social profiles (LinkedIn in particular) deliver your first impression—and we all know how important first impressions are. In addition to being your brand’s voice when you aren’t there, social media is valuable for building and nurturing your network and staying on top of relevant trends skills. Mastering social media also helps you become a digital brand steward for your company. When you share company created content with your community, you increase the value you deliver to your employer and build your personal brand throughout the organization.
5. Leading Online Meetings
You may be a star in the conference room, but are you as good when the meeting location is the Zoom room? Seek to become the very best meeting facilitator—with the goal of making online meetings much more productive and pleasant for the participants. That means knowing how to engage meeting participants (preventing them from halfway listening while they “just work on the report I have to get out”). And it means creating the cohesion and connection in the digital world at the same level as when you’re sitting among your meeting participants.
6. Virtual Networking
Virtual networking can seem like a gift to some. It can feel less scary than going to a face-to-face networking event and injecting yourself into conversations with total strangers. But it’s actually a lot harder in many ways. We’re living in the relationship economy. Those relationships are currency, so building them is important. That means you need a deliberate approach for adding people to your brand community and maintaining relationships with your existing tribe. E-networking requires that you continually reach out and stay connected. If you don’t make it a priority, weeks or months can go by without any valuable network interaction, causing your relevance to wither.
There was a time when only executives had access to a coach. Then, coaching became available to more people in the organization. Now, it’s necessary for every career-minded professional to be a coach. Coaching skills can help you get the most from your people while empowering them to be better at their jobs, but it’s not a one-and-done experience. In his excellent primer, The Coaching Habit, Michael Bungay Stanier writes, “Coaching should be a daily, informal act, not an occasional, formal ‘It’s Coaching Time!’ event.”
It’s easy to multitask when you’re WFH or WFTS (Work From a Third Space). After all, when you’re in a Zoom meeting, you’re on the same device where you read your email and do all your other work. What an opportunity to multi-task. The problem is that you probably can’t multi-task. Only 2.5% of us have brains that are wired to allow it. So staying focused is going to be essential. Plus, those meeting will make up the majority of your “face time” opportunities. So you need to prioritize them and show that you are engaged and contributing value. Mindfulness apps can help you build your focus muscle so you can maximize the value you deliver at work.
Step up your game in these eight areas, and you’ll soar up the career ladder in the new world of work.
World News || Latest News || U.S. News