Why COVID-19 doesn’t mean that developing at pace needs to grind to a halt…

Proxima’s Emily Smith, responsible for talent development, offers insights and practical advice on how to keep young talent developing when work patterns have fundamentally changed.

By Proxima

08 Apr 2020

During the next few months, everyone is facing up to their ‘new normal’. This is heightened for our junior team of procurement professionals, who won’t have experienced working from home for an extended period and are used to being in an office environment. Instead of letting this dampen our spirits, we are tackling the situation head on by ensuring our team feel supported with their work and personal development.

Here are some of the practices and behaviours we are using to ensure our young talent and employees remain happy, focused and engaged;

  1. Regular contact is key – Do not underestimate the power of continued, open and honest conversations. While many of our junior team have not experienced working from home before, it is essential that they feel supported and encouraged to ask questions. Make sure your interactions are frequent and structured. In an isolated setting the modern world offers so many alternatives to face-to-face interaction. Set up a video Skype call, a call via WhatsApp, or just a good old traditional phone call.
  2. Continued feedback and QC goes a long way – Experience tells us that this is a potent tool for someone’s personal and professional development. As you would normally do in the office, make sure that feedback is concise, structured and relevant. Get into the habit of discussing this feedback during your regular catch-ups, too.
  3. Remote training works – While the preference is always to be face to face, our extensive experience has shown that training remotely can be just as effective. As part of our graduate training program, we have developed a wide range of training modules and tools, ranging from ‘bite-size’ 20-minute guides through to two-day ‘intensive development’ courses. As a trainer, it does mean that you have to be more creative with your delivery and approach, but constant encouragement, inclusion and regular breaks are very effective and ensure that the team are motivated and engaged.
  4. Stay focused on objectives and short/mid-term goals – We have worked hard to craft measurable, realistic objectives that drive the junior team towards their goals. Just because we’re working in isolation doesn’t mean that this focus should deteriorate. As managers, it is our job to ensure staff feel supported to continue their journeys towards heightened success. Weave these conversations into your regular catch-ups to ensure the team feel they have a continued sense of normality.
  5. Team meetings – This seems obvious, but setting aside quality time to chat as a team is so important. Try to ensure that this time is light-hearted and fun where possible. As a team, we encourage knowledge-sharing, discussing hints and tips and creating a space for our junior team to feel safe and supported. We would encourage this at least twice a week, for 20/30 minutes…

Investing in your team during this period of uncertainty will be critical to their happiness and mental well-being. Also, when we do go back to the “old normal”, remember what you've learned. Some of the things you do now will be better than what you did before!

We can all learn now and keep improving!

Click here to learn more about Proxima’s Capability on Demand service – bringing trained commercial professionals into your organisation to help keep procurement functions, businesses and supply chains moving.

Or click here to read their report – Resourcing challenges in government commercial. 

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