The Three Questions to Ask Yourself While Working (During Covid-19)
We should always be able to tell what is expected from us. What is the result with real value?
In my experience, when coaching organizations, teams, or even individuals to work effectively, or have more happiness in their lives, there are a couple of very profound questions to think about. And not just during a crisis like COVID-19, but to check every now and then to see if things are on the right path.
Last spring, the world as we know it changed dramatically. Covid-19, lockdowns, and social distancing happened, and our digitalization and remote work policies and ways of working took a huge leap into somewhere familiar but still a bit unknown. Even most of us who have had experience in working remotely still faced unexpected situations where we lost our opportunities to meet our friends, co-workers, teams or clients face to face. Some of us had to take an unpaid “extra job” as a substitute teacher homeschooling our younglings and cooking nutritious meals, while still trying to keep up the normal pace at work as we had before. Also, there was uncertainty about how things will evolve. Are we even safe? How long would it take to go back to normal? Now we know that it will take it’s time.
I’m keen to think you don’t need to have a detailed plan to get what you want. You just need a plan.
No silver bullets or easy fixes here, but… Here’s a coaching–supersurvivor–diamond–self-help–value –question pack to help while working in this “new normal”. There are three questions to ask every now and then while working or trying to achieve something:
What am I trying to achieve?
While working, we should always be able to tell what is expected from us. What is the result with real value? When working in the “new normal,” remotely or some weird hybrid-model where you probably have limited resources and time, it’s even more crucial to understand where the real value is. If you don’t know, ask your colleague, boss-superior, or someone. And don’t settle for hazy answers.
How will I get it?
Having worked years with agile teams, I’m keen to think you don’t need to have a detailed plan to get what you want. You just need a plan. The time you spent on planning your perfect, detailed blueprint de perfecto, is time you should actually just spend doing and learning from that. Working in a complex (See Cynefin framework for more) environment requires experimenting and learning to get where you want to go.
Is my way of working sustainable?
The third question is a bit tricky because we are quite flexible. When we are excited or when we must, we tend to work more than normal and it can be a huge asset. But we should also keep in mind that while working enthusiastically when there’s tons of work to do, there is a limit to how long we can do that.
Also, we should understand that we are individuals. We need to learn what our own limits are, and how do we recharge ourselves to be brave and productive, and hopefully enjoy our time when working. When I work and sometimes push longer hours, I need to be honest with myself and ask how long can I go on like this? Is this sustainable?
I need to be honest with myself and ask how long can I go on like this? Is this sustainable?
Good news is that these are the questions. Not so many. Bad news are, that these might be difficult to answer. One secret is that if you take care of the last one, you have the rest of your life to figure out the first two, because they will change from time to time.
This piece was intended to help individual workers now during Covid-19 and the “new normal”, but maybe you already noticed that these questions are highly valuable also to ask from the team or even from the whole organization. And again, the third one is the key. If you take care of the people, they will take care of the first two questions.
Antti Niemi is an agile-minded coach, thinker, and author. Head of Agile and podcast host at Gofore by day and coach by night. At SHIFT 2020, Antti focuses on work-wellbeing: We aim for a better future, but how do we take care of people who are doing it?