It is all too easy to think in the here-and-now, but what can we expect work to be like in 2022? I can see the need to be fleet-of-foot, value-able, point-full, courageous, and open. Read on…
The past two years have fast-forwarded many of the emerging trends that previously were ticking over at a slower speed and gradually gaining momentum. COVID-19 and its effects on our working methods, patterns and aspirations has turbo-charged change. Everything is changing quickly: attitudes, technology, politics, opinions, trends, health, ways of working – the lot. So what can we do as leaders?
Increase the pace of change: This all means that leaders need to speed-up their planning, and their steering of change management processes. Leaders will need to be ready to respond to new internal needs and demands, from all corners of the workforce and organisation. All are being powerfully influenced by the external environment, climate concerns, volatile social change, political direction and direct action, and vibrant technology. If leaders don’t, then they risk a bumpy ride indeed.
Being value-able: Being fast-paced is not enough though, neither should it be the limit to how leaders should approach their role moving forward. Indeed, the flavours and nuances that will permeate the period are as much value-laden, as they are moral and/or ethical. I say more about this later.
Work differently: We have learned a lot by working apart, at home, in emerging hybrid arrangements, and in reorganising how we do everything at work. We must now all better recognise and value ways of working, embracing our individual and collective human talent so that we can maximise its impact. And that is how we should measure it: by impact and difference made, the productivity achieved, contribution delivered, over and above the traditional and basic counting of time/hours/minutes served, or the tracking of start and finish times. Presenteeism really is flying out of the window. All of this requires managers to trust new methods, and the team members they work with, and support healthy relationships with work, the work environment, and time management (including their own) – because there are real risks things of things becoming unhealthy and unhelpful.
Balance people and tech: There is much opportunity to be had through a greater focus on the symbiosis and synergy of ‘working with people working with technology’ – so it is all mutually beneficial. The lines are blurring between the two, but we will always need both. Perhaps we could even contemplate a merger of HR and IT teams, so we are fully taking benefit from all our people and tech. There needs to be balance. I mean, use devices, but be able to stop using devices once in a while. That will help with trust, truth, and team work (and home life) in my view.
Point-full. A made-up word, the opposite of pointless. Why we work is becoming more and more important for the workforce, and for the consumer of our services or products. People are making choices, informed by their perception and priority placed upon being purposeful. Our organisations need to be explicitly value-laden – with a solid focus on doing good work (working for good), measured in meaningful, truthful, and ethical ways. An example is how we manage and practice sustainably, so we are properly and attentively using resource, supply-chains (and their workforces), by minimising environmental impact, and consciously consuming. All of this needs to be fully integrated and communicated through all business activities.
Partnership and accountability. Bravery here relies upon stepping outside of that hierarchical/structure comfort-zone. Leaders, teams, and organisations need to be more democratic, fluid, reactive and proactive constructions, with the flatness, dialogic, openness and confidence able to form deep-rooted collaborations and partnerships across teams, between teams and departments (such as that idea of merging HR and IT.), and with other organisations in the external environment.
Do more: And finally, if you feel you are doing pretty well on all these measures and ideas, my message is, do more, and do it faster. You will thank me for it.