Education is not the answer to the question. Education is the means to the answer to all questions.
A Strategy for Managing Workplace Anxiety
I knew the session was going to be a challenge. A major challenge. The program was happening anyway, even though the company had just gotten horrible news. Economic downturn. Stock value was down 90%. The shareholders were losing confidence that this 210-year-old firm could weather the storm. It was 2009. We had a global financial crisis.
Our subject that day was leadership business acumen. We were learning how to do insurance business analysis and decisions when you are a non-financial insurance professional. We thought nobody would show up. We were wrong. Everyone showed up. And more.
We had over 45 people in attendance that day. We had planned on 25. We scrambled to accommodate everyone. We had one of the best learning programs I have ever been a part of.
The company still is a blue-chip insurance and financial services firm. They made it. Upon reflection, I think I know why.
When change is chaotic, and there is no clear history or precedent to follow, smart people look to understand the bigger picture. When we provided these super smart people essential business acumen, along with tools to deal with their own uncertainty, well, the uncertainty subsided. More precisely, their stress around the uncertainty subsided. Every one of these 45 professionals left the session with a better understanding their business, what to do, when to do it, and how aggressive to be. They were called to action.
Business acumen reduced the negative impact of uncertainty.
We have known for some time that we ought to pay more attention to the human side of change. We are more alike than we are different. People will respond to the uncertainty in predictable ways. We have seen models like the Adoption Curve and the Stages of Grief to help us understand how people respond to disruption.
Business acumen helps you move through the stages to higher performance.
Here is why I think it works. It works because:
The good news is that business acumen gives you the tools to minimize the stress, sense of powerlessness, and the negative impact of uncertainty.
Learn the bigger picture. Everyone will show up!
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"The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the unanimous views of all parts of my mind."
- Malcolm McMahon
Dan Topf, CPT is Sr. Vice President at MDI, Inc.
Business Learning by Dan: Primers for Trainers
PDF versions of short articles on how to integrate business acumen into all training and development:
The Income Statement
Price and Volume
The Circulation of Capital
The Cost of Capital
Financial Services -- Life Insurance/Annuities