This article has been originally published at Humentum.

AUTHORS: Ross Coxon and Chris Proulx

It’s 2021, finally. You and your team slogged through all the challenges that 2020 threw at you. But you ended the year feeling exhausted, distracted, and overwhelmed. It’s time for a fresh start.

Now is the time to upgrade your team and organization with these four learning and development do’s and don’ts.

Don’t wait all year to bring people together in-person again

The term “new normal” gets thrown around a lot at the moment. Meanwhile, leadership models for VUCA have been around for almost a decade but have gained new meaning in 2020. The truth is that change has always been a constant, but now it is coming at us faster than ever before–and the risks of not adapting are higher. 

Old models of dealing with large external changes encouraged us to see change as a series of large-scale events. This view led to two general responses; either they need to be endured and weathered, out of which we emerge (hopefully stronger and more resilient). Or, we attempt tactical responses to mitigate the downside of the change with the assumption that things will stabilize again within months. Both responses are a form of hunkering down–neither of which is helpful now. We need to build teams and organizations able to not only weather multiple, overlapping, and ongoing changes at the same time, but actually build resilience that allows you to continue to grow and strategically adapt your way through them.

From an learning and development (L&D) perspective, this can be quite challenging. We have just had at least 12 months of a hiatus from our most used L&D technique, face to face training. Many organizations have thus ‘hunkered down’ and did not deliver on their learning strategies for months. This has left the organization under-investing in new skills and capacity when it was most needed. We have seen people’s roles changing, new systems and processes being implemented to manage remote work, new required behaviors and new responsibilities being assigned at a breakneck speed, with a learning structure that could not cope or one that was simply not fit for purpose.

Meanwhile, the growth rate of COVID-19 infections continues to grow unabated in most countries, and the rollout of vaccines, if even available, is not yet able to keep up. The most optimistic estimates point to limited increases of in-person activities by mid-2021, but many are looking to late 2021 or beyond.

So, you can’t base your 2021 learning and development plan around getting teams together in-person again any time soon. And if you are one of the many organizations that delayed critical learning programs, especially management and leadership development, your business can’t afford to wait another several months, or a year, to make important training investments.

Don’t let Zoom fatigue get you down

The picture is not entirely bleak. Many organizations, teams, schools, families and individuals have embraced the brave new world of Zoom (or other video platforms) and it has made a real difference in uncountable ways. The advantage of Zoom has been its ease of use and rollout, its affordable entry-level pricing, and generally its high quality of uptime and video and audio quality. It has almost been a utility in 2020.

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