2022 Reflections: The Year in Review

As you travel back in time and try to remember what you thought was going to happen this year and compare it now to what actually did, what did you get right? Where did you “swing and miss?” What wound up happening that was completely off your radar just 12 short months ago?

By point of comparison, here is a collection of what we came up with at The Center for Leadership Studies as we compared our 2022 expectations to our 2022 realities.

  • People did not come back to work, but maybe they should have (in some capacity) and perhaps still will: Post-pandemic and when given the choice, 87% of the workforce chose to work remotely. Evidently, the lure of rolling out of bed, avoiding the morning and evening commutes and logging in overwhelmingly became the new normal in 2022. Here’s what came along with it:
    • 75% of people feel more isolated
    • 57% have greater anxiety
    • 67% are experiencing higher stress
    • 53% are increasingly exhausted

INC. Magazine recently published the results of a longitudinal study conducted by Harvard University entitled What Makes People Happy that tried to make sense of all this. Net-net, Personal connection is a mood booster and creates mental and emotional stimulation; Isolation is a mood buster.” From this it appears many of us probably experienced unintended consequences associated with our choices to work remotely and may well make some adjustments moving forward.

  • Remote learning is here to stay: In the midst of experiencing the reality that people were not going to come back to work was the acceptance of the role remote learning would play moving forward. Two points in that regard:
    1. All remote options are not created equal: Self-paced learning really lost steam in 2022 (especially when tied to strategic initiatives with high visibility). The evidence is in, and in large part, it suggests that compared to virtual instructor-led training, self-paced learning bored learners and offered limited opportunity for measurable pull-through and transfer.
    2. Facilitators need to expand their skill sets: Organizations are likely to deploy training. moving forward using combinations of classroom, virtual classroom and digital-blended Facilitators need to be able to deliver consistent learner outcomes regardless of modality. There is a bigger gap here than most facilitators acknowledge.
  • Sophisticated leadership development became an increasingly visible priority: It’s almost like organizations across industries universally accepted the reality that employees, at all levels and regardless of functional expertise, needed to improve their ability to lead (and to be led!). This was by no means an altruistic gesture. It was a calculated response to the disruptive change that has become just about everybody’s “new normal.”

 

In a tangible effort to enhance employee engagement and improve alignment and execution, there was a significant uptick in the amount of leadership training done with frontline employees (i.e., no direct reports). The business rationale went something like this:

  1. Take personal responsibility for your own engagement at work!
  2. What better way to do that than actively contracting for a leadership style with your supervisor/manager/director.

Beyond that, building leadership depth and proficiency was seen as a way to drive both innovation and creativity within the flow of work. Me

  • An upward trend in the integration of training with business: We were privileged to work with several organizations this year that leveraged their training function both visibly and strategically. One in particular came to the startling realization that effective leadership training could be a culturally transformative deterrent to turnover. Here’s how they proceeded:
    1. Quantified the challenge: When they lost an experienced technician, it cost them ~ $100K to get someone with less experience to a comparable level of mastery. This equated to ~$12M in lost value per year. In the spirit of Marcus Buckingham and First, Break All the Rules,” the primary reason those technicians were leaving was the relationship they had (or didn’t have) with their supervisor.
    2. Started at the top: Leadership training was identified as a mechanism to get everyone focused on the challenge. The first people to attend? The CEO and the C-suite.
    3. Everybody in the pool! When training was rolled out at the base of the organization, supervisors participated in the training right alongside the technicians on their teams. Both roles were tasked with the responsibility of improving employee engagement with a focus on reducing the turnover of experienced technicians.
  • Custom became commonplace: Customization has officially evolved! It has transitioned from an endeavor that not too long ago was exhaustive and cost prohibitive to an enhancement that typically fits into one of the following categories:
    1. Tailoring: Program tweaks that align the offering with the company’s brand identity
    2. Modifying: Program elements to reflect company-specific dynamics or circumstances
    3. Creating: Unique program elements that currently do not exist

The need for one form or the other of custom development expanded exponentially during 2022, and we doubt trend loses momentum moving into 2023.