Adaptability rules - even more so at present!

Some of you may have seen the Researching Accountant Development Framework on our Community website. The framework was developed from a previous model that emerged from my research into CPD and lifelong learning. The bottom five elements in that original framework encompassed a concept I describe as career adaptability. There are five elements in the continuum running from the intrapersonal to interpersonal dimensions of learning – self-belief, a positive attitude, experimenting, exploring and engaging.

I’ve always claimed these elements are relevant in any context, so how do they match up to life during the COVID-19 pandemic? Supporting the elements is a toolkit with five points to consider for each one. Below I have taken one point from each that seems particularly relevant to me at present.

Being aware of how your emotions influence your response to situations and people (an element of self-belief) – this is a time of enormous uncertainty. There is so much we are not in control of. It is perfectly ok to feel anxious – but don’t get anxious about the fact you are anxious. Everyone is feeling this way. But it does mean we might not all react as we usually would. And our usual confidence may have taken a knock. So be kind to yourself and make allowances for other people.

Being proactive as a habit (part of having a positive attitude)- this is where you can try to regain some control by seeking to influence what is happening. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of locus of control – who decides what is happening to you? Determinism means you see yourself as the victim of your circumstances whereas voluntarism is about trying to make a difference, whatever situation you find yourself in. Many rules, habits and customs that we thought of as ‘sacred cows’ are now up for grabs if we want to seize the opportunity.  

Piloting a new idea or approach to see whether it works (experimenting) – I’m currently the Master of the Chartered Accountants’ Livery Company. We have now moved all our face to face events online until the end of the summer at least. We didn’t know if Zoom would work but tried it out – and then away we went. I know all of you involved in face-to-face teaching will have made similar adjustments. And at the moment it is amazing how quickly big changes can be made, as long as you seize the opportunity.   

Finding out what is happening out there to see if it might be relevant (exploring) – I am so grateful at present for my researcher habits and instincts. There is just so much information out  there, so for me it is all about establishing the credentials behind any facts. You absolutely need to be informed, but you need to decide the validity of the source of any information before you decide whether and how it might apply to you.  

Communicating effectively in all contexts (engaging) – for me at present it’s not just about communicating in all contexts but about which media to use, now we have lost the opportunity for traditional face-to-face meetings. The members of my Livery Company are aged from 25 to 95. So we are using a wide range of channels – telephone, email, circulars, social media and video conferencing – in the hope we have a method of communication that appeals to each of them. And while people are more isolated than usual, we are being very careful about the tone of any communication that we send. You, and other people, are more vulnerable than usual, which brings me full circle back to the first point about your emotions.

Strange times indeed, but they provide opportunities to learn, to change and to make a difference – for me adaptability does still rule!

My very best wishes to you all and do drop me an email if you would like the full toolkit that I mention above –