The learning journey and speed of change

Shutterstock_1368244235The COVID-19 crisis accelerated us into a new era of digital engagement — an era characterized by greater personalization and omnichannel access.

At the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, we have a responsibility to the accounting and finance profession and to our members, and 42% of you have told us that you are unsure that you’ve adapted well to challenges resulting from COVID-19. We want to help, and in collaboration with our partner EY Seren, we present Human Signals: New patterns of behavior and the accounting profession. In this blog, we look at the second pillar of the report — the need for flexibility as we adapt and learn.

Social cognitive theory indicates that you are more likely to be successful learning a new behavior if you:

  • Understand the benefits of the change;
  • Believe you can master the new skill;
  • Identify with the change through a role model; and
  • Feel that you have power and influence on your future.

Notably, what many professionals are finding as the competency they need to build most rapidly during this crisis and period of profound change, is the the ability to adapt and be resilient.

Fortunately, studies reveal that resilience is something we build throughout our lives. People can actively develop their ability to respond and adapt to crises.

And, as a leader, you can help people adapt.

  • For example, before you provide information explaining necessary changes to clients and staff, consider how you increase their capacity to implement the change. You’ll want to provide resources that are helpful — information that is easy to find, with directions that are easy to follow. When many of us experience “information overload,” we tune out and the instructions don’t stick.
  • Adapting to change is not a one-size-fits-all process. Clients and colleagues will emerge from this crisis with various experiences and preferences. The better you understand those differences, the better you can accommodate your clients’ needs.
  • As you strategically plan business operations for the next fiscal or calendar year, define the ways in which you will help clients in both digital and physical environments. Some people will be hesitant to conduct business in public spaces, and others will simply like the convenience of teleworking and video chats.

A million new normals

Lockdown restrictions generated a range of responses from individuals as each sought to re-establish stability in their lives.

The health and well-being of ourselves, our loved ones and fellow community members will continue to influence actions, and the erosion of trust in traditional knowledge sources means that individuals are making their own conclusion about what matters most.

Expecting a single ‘new normal’ is unlikely; instead, anticipate a million new normals.

What you can do

  • Keep digital alternatives available to support those who are not ready to return to the physical world just yet.
  • Include staff input — listen to your teams when creating and adopting new policies and procedures.
  • Reconsider how you use physical space and how much physical space is needed for business operations.
  • Innovate and develop new ways for your clients to engage and interact with your products and services.

Digital technology drives hyper-personalization and we can’t expect a single concept of new normal to emerge from this crisis. Key factors to thrive in a world that changed overnight: adaptation and agility.

Clar Rosso, Executive Vice President, Engagement and Learning Innovation, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants