Be a Jedi in a Rapidly Fading Order
“The new normal” is a vast misunderstanding of our current moment. We view it as a new order. The old order is fading, fast, and it’s not returning.
But there’s a big disconnect between how businesses view this current moment and how their employees (current and future) see it. Many of these changes are well-deserved corrections for long-ignored sins. Companies have long prayed to their productivity gods while not truly caring for the people that help them achieve those goals. Businesses have long deployed a one-size-fits-all mentality when considering their workforce while asking those very human beings to drive innovation and disruption for the business.
The very people you depend on to make your businesses run and succeed are being intentional about their work lives. They want meaningful work. They desire equity of opportunity. They demand flexibility. They want to grow and succeed, but in ways that value their whole lives. They insist that the companies they work for reflect their values and help drive progress in society as well.
As leaders of businesses, and managers of people, we need to consider three areas in order to ride and right the chaos of this moment.
Finding + Retaining Talent
Businesses must embrace nuance when it comes to their people. Everyone brings their singular skills and strengths to their work, but they also have unique lives, with particular stressors, values, plans, and concerns. To attract top talent, and keep them engaged and thriving in their roles over the long haul, businesses must reconsider how to show they value them. Instead of the top-down view of old, your people strategy should be a constantly-evolving conversation that starts on the ground.
Idiosyncratic Deals (I-deals)
Having a parental leave policy is wonderful (we do applaud you!), but it means bubkes to your child-free employees. Being able to go on sabbatical might not appeal to parents (on second thought…), but it could be a gamechanger for a burned-out high-performer. There are no rules for I-deals, other than listening to your people. Seeing, and valuing, your employees as unique makes a tangible difference in their individual experiences. Your people will bring their best selves to their work, so it’s a win-win.
Why you should say yes to more I-deals. (Wall Street Journal)
Idiosyncratic deals as an HR tool. (Frontiers in Psychology)
Why do we wait to get feedback until the employee is one foot out the door? We should regularly check in with our people, and be willing to listen. A high-performer you depend on might suffer burnout in silence as they produce, produce, produce. A lower-performer might simply need sponsorship, development, or the ability to embrace a different role to become a star performer. Sometimes, not! The point is, you don’t know unless you ask. Stay interviews have the potential to improve production outcomes and employee engagement in real-time, but they can also create cultural and operational improvements that pave the way for future hires.
The how, why, and when of stay interviews. (HR Brew)
How We Work Together
Considering how much our daily lives have changed in the last two years, let alone two decades, it’s head-scratching to think that we continue to the business operational values of seventy years ago. We adhere to this myth that people need to be chained to their desks eight hours a day when the average person maxes out their productivity at four-five good hours.
Flexibility is our future, and progressive leadership is required to help our companies embrace it and employ it as a vehicle for growth. This involves adapting how we manage and mentor our people and being intentional about our use of technology for communication and for production. It’s about re-thinking how work gets done.
The five-day workweek is dead. And the ramifications are huge. (The Atlantic)
Moving Our Work Cultures Forward
It’s unfortunate that the diversity and inclusion conversation gets siloed. This is not a conversation only for HR or for an executive with DEI in their job title. We’re not going to solve it by simply hiring more people of color. The issues at the core of diversity, equity, and inclusion, if implemented in a holistic way, create psychological safety and opportunities for all and nourishing work cultures that produce results. DEI should be embedded in your overall business strategy, and every employee has a stake in its success.
The New Order Requires a New Value Equation
A new order is blossoming from the bottom-up. Your people have mobility, they have leverage, and they are valuable. Their value is only going to increase, as, according to a 2021 forecast by the Congressional Budget Office, the American workforce is only slated to grow by only 4% this decade. That’s half the growth rate of the 2000s. Culture will move forward and the companies that embrace it will be relevant tomorrow. Perhaps it’s time to finally value stakeholders, not just shareholders?
The dynamics and structures of work have changed, for good. This is going to be a stressful period of transition for businesses and executive leadership, but we believe the upheaval will be worth it in the end.
The Creative Executive is here to help you lead through the chaos. Get in touch if you need to develop your team, scale your leadership and systemize your vision, and implement real change in your operational culture. Read more about our offerings or contact us.