Making the Most of Engagement in the VUCA Vortex of Covid-19

a swirled vortex
Living in a VUCA world

Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity

As we continue to learn and evolve in unprecedented times, the sense that we are living in “VUCA world” has never seemed more true. The term was coined in the late 80’s, and stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity—certainly an accurate description of the last few months.

One example is a new phrase that has launched into our lexicon: “social distancing.” This is important in the current situation and is for our good. And, it calls on us to tap into our creativity. What innovations will we uncover if we remain curious about ways to continue to interact? How will we develop individually and collectively as we learn new skills or polish rusty ones? In what ways can we intentionally connect with each other to build and strengthen relationships, teams, and collaborations?

Look Within

The first and most powerful place to look is within ourselves. How can we individually manage our own anxiety about the situation the best way? What comes up when we take a few minutes to consider opportunities to be innovative? What is one step we can explore right now? What can we learn? Thinking about those questions can bring surprising and actionable ideas, and help us feel more in control.

We can bring that curiosity to others as well. It can be helpful to start with centering on our purpose, and outcomes we hope for.  How have you embraced flexibility and discovered alternate, and equally effective ways to hold meetings, collaborate on projects, or share ideas? When our default method isn’t available, what other innovations can we develop?

Increasing Engagement in Virtual Meetings

No doubt we have all become more familiar with Zoom and/or WebEx over the last few months. What have you discovered about how they can be used more effectively? How can we leverage them to add connection into our interactions? One simple way is for everyone who has one to turn on their video camera. Virtual meetings—and participants—are much more engaging when we can see faces. We understand much more of what is being said when we can see expressions. At intervals throughout a meeting, check in with everyone in creative ways—have everyone send an emoji of how they are doing at that moment, ask everyone to raise their current beverage and have a drink together. Open a Slack channel just for the meeting, so there is another outlet for connection external to the video conference. Perhaps everyone can send a picture to show what’s out their window or in their immediate surroundings. There are many opportunities to be more “in-person” with each other!

Social Distancing Is Not Emotional Distancing

One final thought—social distancing doesn’t require “emotional distancing.” More than ever we need to connect, to be reassured that friendship, caring, and humanity still exist, and we are each part of it. Text your friends, call your team, video chat with your family—do what works for you. Consider doing it more now than is routine; it can be a needed reminder of what our anchors are, and those will keep us feeling less adrift.

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