Jan 20, 2021

Engaging CEF Coordinators in Knowledge and Experience Sharing Also in 2021

We meet every two years with CEF Coordinators, human resource professionals, to exchange ideas and good practices in learning, and to discuss how they could be part of the CEF learning and networking program.

In 2020, we could not meet in Bucharest in September due to disruptions caused by the pandemic. Instead, we turned our originally planned face-to-face meeting into a series of virtual sessions. These were delivered in cooperation with the Coordinators as co-designers and guest speakers. The virtual sessions addressed issues that came into a sharper focus in times of crisis and unprecedented shock for individuals and organizations: personal and organizational resilience, communication, leadership, and organizational learning.

When talking about resilience we learned that institutions adapted to the new situation, but each one in its own way. Even though our workplaces will never be the same, we witnessed things that seemed impossible becoming possible almost overnight. The employees’ lives have changed, and this has affected also the priorities of the institutions. It was interesting to hear the experience of other countries in dealing with the pandemic.

During our discussions, we also addressed the role of communication in a crisis. We agreed that in such instances communication must be largely adapted, otherwise, it fails to support the proposed actions of public institutions. Public representatives should not focus only on presenting the facts and giving instructions but also on conveying compassion and building trust with the public. In the case of the latter, it may give rise to misinformation, distrust, and conspiracy theories.

In talking about what good leadership looks like during a pandemic, our conclusion was that leaders' prime role is to manage values as a major source of resilience in organizations while also keeping the focus on high organizational performance. Organizations are not fixed and rigid structures like buildings. They are a set of processes, customs, and values. Values are a prime source of assuring coordination and flexibility. Agreement on values also promotes cooperation. In the context of crisis, institutions find themselves in a paradoxical position - we expect them to be flexible and stable at the same time.

Lastly, we looked at the role of learning in current turbulent times, offering a fresh perspective to the current organizational learning debate. Learning is at the center of the organization’s ability to thrive under extreme uncertainty. Even after the pandemic, the organizations will be forced to continuously adapt. Learning agility will be the new mainstream super skill with an emphasis on the ability to constantly learn, relearn, and unlearn and the future skills will be linked to keeping up with a dynamic world.

Following our comprehensive discussions with CEF Coordinators in 2020, we will continue to offer our Coordinators a platform for developing ideas, sharing knowledge, and learning from each other. Coordinators will have an active role from the beginning until the end of the learning process by being engaged in the agenda design, preparations, and delivery which will strengthen their capacity for systematic knowledge sharing in the long term.

In the first half of the year, our activities will remain virtual. Certain activities will be focused directly on the CEF thematic areas in which your institutions are primarily working, while others will address the general, human resources (HR) and leadership topics that are of interest to all.