Grace Tripathy
Grace Tripathy

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Articles
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Fri 9 February 2024
You've recently been appointed as the new team leader of a marketing department within a technology company. The team comprises experienced marketers who have been working together for several years. Your mandate is to revamp the marketing strategy to align with the company's new product roadmap. To effectively assess the talent of your team, you conduct one-on-one meetings with each team member to understand their expertise, interests, and career aspirations. 

Based on your assessments, you reallocate roles and responsibilities to leverage each team member's strengths. Additionally, you involve the team in brainstorming sessions to co-create the new marketing strategy, fostering a sense of ownership and commitment. Despite initial resistance to changes in processes and priorities, transparent communication, ongoing support, and tangible results help garner support from the team, leading to successful implementation of the revamped marketing strategy.

You were brought in for a reason: to make change. However, joining a pre-established team as a new leader requires a delicate balance of assessment, communication, and leadership. 

As a newly appointed team leader, your task is not only to assess the talent of your team but also to initiate constructive changes that align with organizational goals. While the team may already be familiar with one another, your presence signifies a need for transformation and improvement. 

Before you start making any changes or decisions, take some time to understand the current state of your team, the organizational culture, and the expectations of your stakeholders. Observe how your team works, communicate with them, and solicit feedback from others. Identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of your team and your role. This will help you avoid making assumptions, identify potential challenges, and align your goals with the team and the organization. 

Without this crucial step in the process of your transition into the team, and the team’s adjustment to your presence, you may risk falling into the trap of implementing changes based on incomplete or inaccurate information. This could lead to resistance, confusion, and ultimately, failure to achieve desired outcomes. By taking the time to understand the current state of your team and the organizational context, you lay the groundwork for informed decision-making and effective leadership.

Strategies for the Adjustment:

  1. Establishing Credibility: As a new leader, you must quickly establish credibility and earn the trust of your team members. Without trust, it can be challenging to implement changes effectively.
  2. Assessing Existing Talent: Understanding the strengths, weaknesses, and potential of each team member is crucial for making informed decisions about team composition and task assignments.
  3. Navigating Existing Dynamics: Pre-established teams often have their dynamics, communication styles, and power structures. Navigating these dynamics while introducing changes requires finesse and diplomacy.
  4. Overcoming Resistance to Change: Resistance to change is natural, especially when team members are accustomed to a certain way of working. Overcoming this resistance requires clear communication, transparency, and involvement in decision-making processes.

3 Strategies for Success:

  1. Build Relationships and Conduct Talent Assessments:
Take the time to understand each team member individually, including their backgrounds, motivations, and aspirations. This builds rapport and lays the foundation for trust and collaboration. Simultaneously, utilize assessments, feedback sessions, and performance reviews to gain insights into their skills, strengths, and areas for improvement. Objective data will inform decisions about team composition and development initiatives.

2. Communicate Vision, Involve the Team, and Lead by Example:
Clearly communicate your vision for the team and expected outcomes, aligning goals with organizational objectives to provide context and direction. Foster a culture of inclusivity by involving team members in decision-making processes, soliciting their input, ideas, and feedback. This increases buy-in, promotes ownership, and cultivates accountability. Additionally, lead by example by demonstrating expected behaviors and values such as professionalism, communication, and adaptability, setting the tone for team culture.

3. Manage Change Gradually, Address Resistance Proactively, and Monitor Progress:
Introduce changes gradually, allowing time for adaptation and feedback, as incremental changes are often more palatable and less disruptive. Provide support and resources to facilitate the transition. Anticipate resistance to change and address it proactively by acknowledging concerns, providing rationale, and creating a safe space for open dialogue. Monitor progress continuously, soliciting feedback from team members and stakeholders to identify areas for improvement, and adapt your approach based on evolving circumstances.

Implementing these strategies enables new leaders to effectively navigate the transition, mitigate risks, and foster a culture of collaboration, accountability, and continuous improvement within their teams.

By building relationships, conducting talent assessments, and involving the team in decision-making, you can effectively navigate existing dynamics and implement constructive changes. Remember to lead by example, manage change gradually, and address resistance proactively to foster a culture of trust, collaboration, and continuous improvement. With patience, empathy, and strategic vision, you can transform a group of individuals into a high-performing team capable of achieving organizational success.


Fri 26 January 2024
Change is inevitable and often necessary, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy—especially for your team of employees. When processes are updated or reworked, you may face pushback, confusion, and frustration from your team. 

Even when a lot of work is done into analyzing and improving your processes, all that work is for nothing if people don't adopt and follow the new standards. That’s why it’s important to have a plan in place to implement new processes and get employees on board from the start. 

How can you guide your employees through accomplishing tasks for their current responsibilities while adding in a new tool that the company has acquired for use?

Understanding the Dynamics of the New Tool

To effectively lead a team through the integration of a new tool, a manager must first gain a comprehensive understanding of its dynamics. Beyond merely grasping its functionalities, the manager should discern how the tool aligns with the current workflow. Workshops, training sessions, and identification of key features that enhance efficiency are essential steps in this understanding process.

Anticipating and Tackling Resistance

Resistance to change is a common hurdle when introducing new tools. A proactive manager anticipates this resistance and addresses it head-on by fostering an open communication culture. By highlighting the benefits of the tool, showcasing its ability to simplify tasks or improve outcomes, and encouraging feedback, a manager can mitigate resistance and build team buy-in.

In-depth training is paramount for a seamless transition. Managers should prioritize providing numerous opportunities for team members to acquire the necessary skills. This can involve arranging training sessions led by experts, offering online courses or certifications relevant to the tool, and creating a supportive environment for peer-to-peer learning within the team.

Tailoring Integration Plans to Team Roles

Recognizing the diversity of roles within the team, a manager should tailor integration plans accordingly. Collaboration with team leads to create role-specific implementation strategies and providing targeted training based on individual responsibilities are crucial steps. This approach ensures a more personalized and effective integration for each team member.

Integration of a new tool can potentially disrupt existing workflows if not managed carefully. Managers must anticipate these disruptions and develop strategies to mitigate them. Gradual implementation, starting with less critical tasks, and having contingency plans in place for unexpected issues can help minimize disruptions and maintain productivity.

Achieving a balance between ongoing responsibilities and the adoption of new tools is crucial for a smooth transition. Here's how you can manage this delicate equilibrium:

1. Prioritize and Delegate:
  • Identify critical tasks that require immediate attention and focus.
  • Delegate responsibilities effectively, ensuring the workload is distributed efficiently.

2. Monitor Progress:
  • Regularly check in with team members to gauge their progress with the new tool.
  • Address any challenges or roadblocks promptly to prevent disruptions.

3. Foster Collaboration:
  • Encourage collaboration among team members to share insights and tips on using the new tool.
  • Create a supportive environment where team members help each other navigate the transition.

Celebrating Milestones and Recognizing Efforts:

Acknowledging achievements and efforts throughout the transition is vital for maintaining team morale. Managers should take the time to celebrate milestones and recognize the hard work put in by the team. Establishing a system for acknowledging individual and collective achievements, organizing team-building activities, and reinforcing a positive mindset by emphasizing the long-term benefits of mastering the new tool contribute to a motivated and engaged team.

Successfully leading a team through the integration of a new tool demands a multifaceted approach. Managers must not only understand the tool's dynamics but also proactively address resistance, provide comprehensive training, tailor integration plans to team roles, manage potential disruptions, establish a support system, and celebrate achievements. By adopting these strategies, leaders can guide their teams through the challenges of change, ensuring a smooth and efficient transition in the dynamic landscape of Fortune 500 companies.


Fri 12 January 2024
Throughout history, forces such as globalization have reshaped most employees’ jobs. Technology, including AI, stands to revolutionize those positions even more. Soon, some jobs may no longer exist, while many will look different than they do now. Other roles companies haven’t dreamed up yet will be necessary. These are solid reasons businesses can’t afford to grow complacent. 

Fortunately, leaders have two highly effective talent development tools available to them: upskilling and reskilling.

Upskilling and reskilling employees are learning techniques that prepare companies for the changes happening now. Continuous learning is the foundation for success. 

Key Differences Between Upskilling and Reskilling

While there is some correlation between the two approaches, upskilling differs from reskilling in that it doesn’t seek to move someone into a new role. Upskilling enhances an employee’s existing abilities by teaching them new tricks of the trade. A position may require brand-new knowledge, but there’s still a business need for it. An example of upskilling is an IT technician who takes certification courses on newly released software.

In contrast, reskilling prepares current workers for different roles. The positions they’ve been doing for several years might be on their way out. While there’s no longer a market demand for the employees’ existing skills, the business doesn’t want to replace them. Instead, the company can train these workers to embark on altered career paths.

The emergence of artificial intelligence is one clear driver of this phenomenon. If AI eliminates receptionist jobs in the next few years, HR departments could identify employees in receptionist positions and offer to prepare them for various customer service specialist roles. The training these workers receive equips them with the skills they require to transition. Reskilling doesn’t simply build on existing abilities but may augment transferable ones.

The Benefits of Upskilling

Many managers believe talent walks out the door because of money. Although they’re not necessarily wrong about that, low pay isn’t the only contributing factor. A lack of career growth is one of the main drivers of turnover in organizations, regardless of industry. Employees don’t want to feel stuck in a dead-end job. They want to be challenged, take on stretch assignments and advance in their careers.

Advancement doesn’t always mean ascending to management. Bumping an employee to a senior specialist role with new responsibilities can keep them committed to the organization. Upskilling is a way to give workers the learning opportunities they crave. It also builds an internal talent pipeline, saving the company from having to find external candidates for senior positions.

When employees see a business investing in their career growth, it can boost productivity. Learning opportunities tend to increase job satisfaction, which leads to better outcomes. And the improved skill sets themselves contribute to more desirable business results.

The Benefits of Reskilling

Disparities in the skills roles demand and the knowledge employees have is creating internal problems. Staff members won’t be proficient enough to transition into roles businesses need to function. And finding skilled talent outside the organization will become more expensive than it is today.

Reskilling shows that leaders are thinking about the future. Once a role becomes irrelevant or redundant, it’s an unnecessary expense. Staff members who hear rumors of downsizing are more likely to jump ship. Those who stay may grow increasingly dissatisfied as their roles lose meaning, making it challenging for the business to remain competitive. When companies prepare employees for what’s coming, they can avoid layoffs, voluntary departures and loss of morale and productivity among employees who stay.

How to Develop New Skills 

From courses to new qualifications, taking charge of your own development is vital. As both upskilling and reskilling both take time and commitment, it’s important that you have the necessary motivation to seek out these new opportunities. 

Here are five ways for you to better your skillset, whether you’re looking to grow your career in your current company or branch out into something new.  

1. Become More IT Literate
Despite technology’s increasing prevalence in our lives, many of us are not as IT literate as we could be. Studies from PwC show that 40% of workers successfully improved their digital skills during the pandemic. With many of us having to work remotely, this was of course a necessity, but there is still always room for improvement.  

With the increasing reliance on technology in our society, growing your career in a more IT centered direction can help you to future proof the path you’re on, and create exciting and rewarding new career opportunities. 

2. Enhance Your Soft Skills
Soft skills are essential for self-improvement, and they’re something that you can work on in your own time, and often and minimal to no cost. They’re not technical skills that require a specific qualification, typically soft skills are the skills you pick up along the way over the course of your education and career. 

Being able to communicate effectively, work as part of a team, self-motivate, and manage your time are all valuable skills that are sought after in all workplaces. Including them on your CV is of course important, but you need to be able to demonstrate them in action, from the day of your interview and throughout your career to come.

There are tools out there to help you develop these skills, from apps that make planning your time easier, to self-help books that can teach you how to communicate well with others. Start dedicating some of your free time to these soft skills and you’ll see an improvement in your work and become a more attractive prospect for a business.

3. Advance Your Qualifications
If you feel like you’ve reached as far as you can go with your current level of education, then your next step in your upskilling and reskilling journey might be furthering your qualifications.

Returning to school or university isn’t easy for everyone, especially if you’ve already embarked on your career. However, with remote mastermind learning programs like AIM Insights, you can study on your own time with real executive mentors guiding you, allowing you to fit your education among your other responsibilities.

4. Attend Conferences, Seminars, and Workshops
Attending conferences is now easier than it ever has been before, with many of them now often having the option to attend online, limiting the amount of time that you need to take off work. It is also a great way to learn from the experience of experts in your field.

Similarly, there are numerous online resources that can provide you with valuable tools for your self-improvement, from YouTube videos, to LinkedIn Learning, where you can access a variety of business, creative, and technology oriented courses.    

5. Shadow Others in Your Company
Upskilling and reskilling are not only beneficial to you, but also to your employer. Having multiskilled employees can aid in a company’s growth and expand the type of work that your organization can take on. 

If you’re interested in learning another role within your industry, then speak to your employer about shadowing one of your colleagues. This way you can gain first-hand experience in other aspects of your field and help you take the next steps towards taking on more challenges at work and enhancing your performance. 

As the workforce transforms, so must the approach to leadership and learning, creating a path toward a future where innovation and adaptability are a priority.


Thu 28 December 2023
In 2021, employees held unprecedented power, their every move capable of instigating a wave of resignations. This era was characterized by a constant game of one-upmanship, with companies trying to outdo each other in offering the best benefits and perks to attract and retain talent. Job loyalty seemed like a never-ending battle, as the workforce conveyed the luxury of choice, leading to a culture of job-hopping that became the norm.

However, the dynamics have shifted in favor of the employers. Companies, no longer dominated by the constant threat of mass resignations, began to reassess their organizational structures. Layoffs became the order of the day, leaving many employees with a sense of overwork. The burning question that arises amidst this transition is whether organizations were, in fact, overstaffed for an extended period, and the current sensation of overwork is merely a consequence of employees not being accustomed to being utilized to their full potential.

The Burning Question: Was the Market in 2021 Overstaffed and Underutilized?

A critical question emerges: were organizations overstaffed all along, and is the current sensation of overwork merely a consequence of employees not being accustomed to being utilized to their full potential? The answer lies at the intersection of organizational strategy, workforce optimization, and the ever-evolving nature of the job market.

This transition prompts a detailed examination of the pros and cons inherent in both the employee-driven market and the employer-dominated market. In the former, where employees held substantial power, the workforce was motivated, and competition for talent spurred innovation. However, a culture of job-hopping and a lack of loyalty posed considerable challenges for long-term planning.

On the other side of the coin, the employer-dominated market introduces the potential for an optimized workforce, strategic resource allocation, and increased efficiency. Yet, the process of restructuring may lead to layoffs, causing uncertainty and impacting employee morale. Employees may also feel overworked initially as they adapt to the demands of a more optimized structure.

As organizations move with this new reality, the imperative is to strike a balance that transcends the constraints of an employee-driven or employer-dominated market. The pros and cons of each scenario underscore the intricate dance between employee satisfaction, organizational efficiency, and strategic resource allocation. The challenge, then, becomes a battle between creating a work environment where employees feel valued, engaged, and utilized optimally, and organizations can meet their goals without succumbing to the pitfalls of either extreme. It is a narrative of balance, where the flow of workforce dynamics converge to create a sustainable and thriving workplace ecosystem.

Employee-Driven Market
Pros:
  • Motivated Workforce: Employees felt empowered and motivated, knowing their skills were in high demand.
  • Innovation through Competition: Fierce competition for talent led to innovation as companies sought to distinguish themselves.
  • Emphasis on Well-being: Companies prioritized employee satisfaction and well-being to attract and retain talent.
Cons:
  • Lack of Loyalty: The culture of job-hopping eroded loyalty, making long-term planning challenging.
  • Constant Turnover: High turnover rates made it difficult for organizations to maintain stability and continuity.
  • Short-Term Focus: Companies often focus on immediate benefits to retain employees rather than long-term strategies.

Employer-Dominated Market
Pros:
  • Optimized Workforce: Companies can strategically allocate resources, ensuring each employee is fully utilized.
  • Increased Efficiency: A more efficient organizational structure has the potential to enhance overall productivity.
  • Strategic Resource Allocation: Employers have the autonomy to allocate resources based on strategic goals.
Cons:
  • Layoffs and Uncertainty: Restructuring may lead to layoffs, causing uncertainty and impacting employee morale.
  • Adjustment Period: Employees may feel overworked initially as they adapt to the demands of a more optimized structure.
  • Risk of Burnout: The push for efficiency may inadvertently lead to burnout if not managed effectively.

Contrary to the perception that an employer-dominated market signals a lack of staff, a closer examination reveals that it may be a pursuit of workforce balance. This shift challenges long-held assumptions, urging organizations and employees to reconsider their perspectives on efficiency, engagement, and optimal resource utilization. The shift from the employee to the employer-dominated workforce showcases the balance of fewer employees being used at their potential rather than many employees being used at partial potential. 

Not a Lack of Staff, but Workforce Balance

One of the primary challenges in understanding the nuances of an employer-dominated market lies in dispelling the notion that it is synonymous with a dearth of staff. Instead, it should be viewed as a strategic endeavor to achieve a harmonious equilibrium in the workforce. Companies are recalibrating their structures not due to an inadequate workforce but to align resources more precisely with the organization's goals. This shift emphasizes the need for a lean, agile, and finely tuned workforce, rather than an outright scarcity of personnel.

Mindset Shift Required

As organizations pivot towards a more optimized workforce, a shift in mindset becomes imperative. Employees, who may have grown accustomed to a culture of potential underutilization during the employee-driven era, now find themselves in a landscape where being fully utilized is the new norm. This adjustment period demands a recalibration of expectations and work habits. A proactive approach to embracing challenges, acquiring new skills, and contributing to the organization's overarching objectives becomes paramount for individual and collective success.

Opportunities Amidst Challenges

While the transition to an employer-dominated market brings its share of challenges, it also brings a load of opportunities for personal and professional growth. Employees, once accustomed to the comforts of a less-demanding workload, can now seize the chance to showcase their skills, take on more significant responsibilities, and contribute meaningfully to the organization's success. This shift offers a platform for continuous learning, skill development, and career advancement as individuals adapt to the evolving demands of the workplace.


Fri 15 December 2023
We all have life events that distract us from work from time to time: an ailing family member, a divorce, the death of a friend. You can’t expect someone to be at their best at such times. But as a manager what can you expect? How can you support the person to take care of themselves emotionally while also making sure they are doing their work (or as much of it as they are able to)?

Emily, a dedicated team leader, found herself facing a challenging situation. One of her team members, Charlie, was grappling with personal turmoil, juggling the complexities of an external affair leading to a divorce that was tearing apart his family. Balancing the demands of the workplace while carrying such a heavy emotional burden, Charlie was struggling to meet performance expectations, leaving Emily in a delicate position as a leader torn between empathy and professionalism.

Understanding the delicate nature of Charlie's situation, Emily knew that leading with empathy was crucial. However, maintaining a professional work environment was equally important. Striking the right balance required a thoughtful and nuanced approach.

First, Emily decided to initiate a private conversation with Charlie. She wanted to create a safe space for him to share his struggles without judgment. Instead of immediately addressing performance concerns, she began by expressing concern for his well-being and acknowledging the challenges he might be facing outside of work.

During their conversation, Emily demonstrated active listening skills, allowing Charlie to open up about his personal life at his own pace. This approach helped build trust and allowed Emily to gain a deeper understanding of the emotional toll Charlie was experiencing. In doing so, she learned about his fears, uncertainties, and the difficulty he faced in separating personal issues from his professional responsibilities.

Understanding that Charlie might find it challenging to communicate openly in a face-to-face setting, Emily subtly introduced the idea of using AIM Insights, a platform designed for non-face-to-face communication among team members. This platform served as an online forum where employees could share their personal struggles, ambitions, and non-work-related goals in a comfortable and confidential manner.

Emily emphasized the benefits of AIM Insights, explaining how it could provide a supportive space for team members to express themselves freely. The platform allowed individuals like Charlie to share their experiences, offering insights into their lives outside of the office, making it easier for leaders like Emily to comprehend the challenges faced by their team members.

Without explicitly revealing Charlie's personal situation, Emily encouraged the team to use AIM Insights as a channel for open communication about their non-work-related struggles and aspirations.

These 3 tips are also used to ensure that the workplace is a confidential, empathetic and supportive environment. 

  1. Listen First, Suggest Second

When you speak to an employee about their current struggles, listen first instead of immediately advocating for some particular course of action. They may just want a sounding board about the difficulties of caring for a sick relative or an opportunity to explain why a divorce has affected their attention span. If you immediately suggest they take a leave of absence or adjust their schedule, they may be put off if that’s not what they were thinking. Instead, ask what both of you can do together to address the issue of performance during the difficult period. 

2. Know What You Can Offer

You may be more than willing to give a grieving employee several weeks of leave, or to offer a woman with a high-risk pregnancy the ability to work from home. But the decision isn’t always yours to make. If you have the leeway to get creative with a flexible schedule, an adjusted workload, or a temporary work-from-home arrangement, do what you think is best. But also be sure you understand your company’s restrictions on short- and long-term leave, and what, if any, bureaucratic hurdles exist before promising anything to your employee. Explain that you need to check what’s possible before you both commit to an arrangement.

If the employee needs counseling or drug or alcohol services, there may be resources provided by your company’s medical insurance that you can recommend. But investigate the quality of those resources first. The last thing you want to do is send a suffering employee to avail themselves of a program or supposedly helpful people who then fall short.

3. Consider Workload

You also have to consider whether prolonged absences will adversely affect clients or team members. If so, mitigate those risks by easing the person’s workload. If there are people who are willing and able to take on some of the individual’s projects, you can do that temporarily. Just be sure to reward the people who are stepping in. And then set timelines for any adjustments you make. If the person knows that their situation will last for 6-8 weeks, set a deadline for you to meet and discuss what will happen next. Of course, many situations will be open-ended and in those cases, you can set interim deadlines when you get together to check in on how things are going and make adjustments as necessary. Whatever arrangements you make, be crystal clear about your expectations during this time period. Be realistic about what they can accomplish and set goals they can meet.


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