My vision has always been to build a community within CARA where our consultants could learn from and connect with each other. I believed from the start that this kind of community would help them to develop the skills that were important and relevant in our changing business landscape. I knew that dream would need to be realized by taking baby steps along the way. Here is the story of how we began, where we are today, and lessons learned along the way.
“How do we build a true community within our talent community? How do we engage with them and provide them the opportunity to engage between and among themselves?”
The first step we took was to ask ourselves “How do we build a true community within our talent community? How do we engage with them and provide them the opportunity to engage between and among themselves?”
The answer to that question was to initiate our Change, Learn, Grow program in 2017. We offered webinars on relevant topics that our consultants needed to learn about and found interesting. In 2019 we held a weeklong event with the culmination being a full day of in-person learning and growing. We were on track to do the same in 2020 but the pandemic forced us to change our plans. The webinars continued during the week but, obviously, no in person event was held.
At the end of 2020, I decided I wanted to shift gears a little bit and add another approach to how our community could learn about interesting topics. The idea was to put the focus on bringing our brilliant consultants together to learn from each other.
CARA Consultant Connect
The result is what we call CARA Consultant Connect, introduced in 2021. The model is a very interactive, virtual information sharing and ‘networking’ session. The concept involves, first, selecting a relevant topic, then providing a bit of researched information to the participants, and then proactively using most of the time for breakouts. We break out and throw our collective consultant brain trust against challenges that are currently happening all around us.
We have now held three Consultant Connects. It’s been so fun to see things unfold!
The three topics we have tackled this year:
- Q1- Success in a virtual environment.
- Q2- The Return to the workplace challenge.
- Q3- Hybrid is here to stay: What can we do to remain effective in our new hybrid world?
It’s funny to see how our topics this year have mirrored our hopes and expectations for what we thought was to come, however, as is life, there is so much out of our control, and we are all just riding this wave.
So, what did we talk about in our most recent session?
Here are some of the most relevant points discussed:
- Ambiguity is part of life and change. Most of us are fixers when it comes to how we respond and a good reminder is that you can’t control what happens to you but it’s healthier to focus on what we DO have control over, which is our own reactions.
- What are the positives that have come out of the hybrid work model?
- Personal flexibility of time
- More movement opportunities like walking the dog mid-day
- Remote collaboration CAN work and be super effective
- Less commuting, convenience, and congestion
- Greater freedom but the need to communicate and set boundaries better
- People of all ages are now more technically astute
- What are some unintended consequences?
- Loss of natural time barriers (when are we NOT “at work”)
- Fostering relationships can be more difficult
- Mentoring for early career workers is not as easy when not in an office
- Hard to make and develop a social network and make friends
- Businesses that have relied upon office workers or traveling consultants, e.g., airlines, rental cars, restaurants, have not returned to normal
- What are your predictions for the skills you will need to add or sharpen?
- Technology skills, communication, and writing
- Listening and emotional intelligence
- Developing a stronger camera presence
- Running a ‘focused’ meeting
- Building relationships in a non-traditional way
- Time management
- Ending meetings on a positive note as a way of continuing to work on culture
Lessons Learned Along the Way
As always, our consultants brought such wonderful and diverse perspectives to things that we are all encountering on the daily.
We have learned a lot since Q1, but one thing has stayed the same: we have the best team of consultants and it is energizing to come together, connect and brainstorm to solve problems.
What’s up next? I’ll keep you posted.
I would love to hear your thoughts. Please share your comments with me. And if you are interested in joining CARA’s Talent Community, check out our current openings.