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5 Ways to Amplify Your Ability With Agility

Wednesday, March 25, 2020
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Advance preparation eases discomfort and uncertainty with an urgent situation. High stakes with the COVID-19 risk is a somber reminder and urgent call to practice excellent hygiene, take social distancing seriously, and consider others’ needs in the present while placing immediate desires second to necessities. One person’s strong immunity can protect another’s vulnerable immunity.

No doubt, it is better to prepare ahead. But when an incident occurs, acting with agility benefits ourselves and those around us. Improvising is easier when our affairs are in order, regardless of the circumstances acting in the present with confidence and resourcefulness in the moment matters. Talent development professionals everywhere are shining a light on agility in this time of need.

Changing Priorities, New Opportunities

Much of what seemed urgent last week has shifted and new priorities have developed. By being available as a solution finder, a resource procurer, and a change liaison, the agile talent development professional lightens the worry and fear that could be in the workplace.

The unknown future causes many to worry about what they cannot control. Regret and sorrow that better emergency plans were not crafted can cause some to worry. The agile professional focuses on the present. They apply the tools they know for performance improvement, facilitation, and needs assessment in the moment. Addressing the needs of the now is liberating, helpful, and gets all of us closest to ensuring we can contribute meaningful work no matter the circumstances.

Flexing TD’s Agility

Agility is the ability to navigate with flexibility, awareness, and optimistic scrutiny. Thinking with agility can highlight our best work. The brain is at optimum function. Mind and body act with excited energy fueled by theory and past experiences and adeptly consider new scenarios with revitalized thoughtfulness.

Additionally, the agile performer acts with confidence and discernment. They trust their past successes and give themselves permission to say “yes” to the unknown. They know that the choices they make are risks, but they are confident that risks are momentum and will accomplish what is needed.

Bottom line: Agility allows clear-headed thinking and encourages an individual and a team to consider all options and to try the one that seems best informed.

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Case in Point

I am a Portland, Oregon, resident and work for the City of Portland. As the days and intensity of COVID-19 increase, Oregon governor Kate Brown earlier updated with requests to cancel all state events of 250 people and more, and directives have intensified limiting gatherings to 10. In the workplace, within the City of Portland our mayor has activated our COOP (Continuity of Operations Plan) that provides opportunity to act with essential functions and adapt as needed from what is planned.

This real-life activation mirrors the preparation and actions of which all talent development professionals are adept. In my workplace, teleworking is not the norm. There are essential functions including sewer and stormwater operations. There are crucial pump repairs that directly affect the cleanliness of the river and the health of the community in providing clean rivers and sanitation.

Social distancing presents unique challenges. We are observing myriad ways that people are demonstrating agility in thought, action, and inspiration. Those who did not telework before are being mandated to do so, and talent development professionals are being called on to provide immediate support resources. How do you make sure everyone has what they need when teleworking? Can you create resources to help teambuilding even when we work remotely? How can I be efficient with my work when priorities are unknown? For the agile talent development professional these questions present opportunities to embrace new ideas, probe others to create solutions and to be an example of confident action.

The plan in an emergency rarely develops exactly as it was on paper. The City of Portland’s operations crew are rotating to enable social distancing. I am sourcing content and ideas from multiple locations.

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Time to Shine

In this organized chaos, the agile professional shines like a light to their whole team. They can realize they have strengths they did not know. Here are five ways to act with greater agility in times of uncertainty.

1) Bring Your Best Self: And if you can’t, fake your best self until it arrives. Acting with confidence after taking care of your own needs will make you a stronger support to others at work.

2) Notice Everything: Pay attention to details and meaning in what someone says or does. These are all opportunities to connect. Connecting can help calm everyone and can help resolve work problems with ease. You can identify underlying concerns and redirect where necessary.

3) Accept Offers: Accept, acknowledge, or appreciate what is said, done, or present to ground things and connect. Everything is an offer. When the TD professional models this, this open mindset spreads. Everyone helps one another.

4) Trust and Support Your Partners. This is your manager, your co-worker, your client, your customer, and so on. Making others around you look good makes you look good. Assuming and operating with good intent creates a positive feedback loop for strong collaboration.

5) Make Mistakes: Mistakes are an essential part of learning. To fear them is to fear learning, connecting, and innovating. Dispel the fear and accept them as process. Mistakes often mean you’re trying something new.

Relying on your own ability and welcoming the ideas and talents of those around you will build your confidence and ability to act in the present with helpful thoughtfulness. Acting with agility can demonstrate the talent development professional’s greatest strength and can contribute to creating a work team that is capable of more than ever anticipated. Long-lasting solutions can surface. Greater trust can develop. Stronger confidence for all can be a result of one talent development professional modeling agility.

About the Author

Shannon Milliman, CPLP, gives keynotes and workshops to organizations applying improv principles to learning to help organizations become more creative, agile and human, and manages the learning and development program for environmental services for the City of Portland, Oregon. She is a writer, poet, playwright and specializes in bringing art to learning strategy. She can be reached at shannonmilliman@gmail.com.

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