Your business can never go back . . . it's time for your talent to shine.
by Rob Keogh | 29 April 2020
A lot of support has been put in place recently to address people's concerns around new regimes necessary to protect our health. In business, however, there was no time to workshop or sugar coat what hit us. The economic and practical realities of what had to be put in place left little room for discussion. The message was simple; This is now how it is.
People’s perceptions of what is normal and what is a privilege will never be the same.
Assumptions of “how we’ve always done things”, expectations built over people’s lifetimes are forever altered. So, as we turn our minds to the recovery, do you really want to put things back just as they were?
The opportunity and risk I see at the moment is that all businesses across the world will be re-booting together. In this environment “world best practice” might quickly evolve, with new boundaries being set.
Doing things the way we’ve always done them is not our best option. Businesses that do, risk getting left behind. I suspect the new best practice will stretch management perceptions in human resource deployment, organisational structure, and technology implementation. People, Process and Technology.
This current interruption has opened the door for rapid workplace evolution.
We have already been going through a period of business evolution. Over recent years, the rapid increase in the capacity of technology has far exceeded its adoption.
A key challenge has been that the introduction of new systems, has required considerable change management. Performance insecurities, personal fears, and a labyrinth of workplace fiefdoms had to be considered and negotiated before transition could be contemplated.
Right now, however, the way teams work together has already changed. We have become less location-dependent which has resulted in us working and collaborating in different ways. The massive scope of the change has made much of the typical change-management discussion redundant.
As we now look to our business reformation, our teams are eager for leadership, direction, and security. Change is a given. As a business manager, you will be expected to know what the new workplace looks like and what that means for people’s future.
To maximise performance in any business requires effective measurement and total transparency. This is especially true in the new co-located workplace structure. Old legacy systems and data silos will become an untenable liability as businesses reboot and attempt to serge forward to fill the void left from months of low activity.
How do we motivate and engage people remotely?
As people learn to work more independently, sometimes at home or in the field, sometimes in the office, we will need to work harder to ensure they remain motivated and engaged. The obvious solution is to make their work more engaging. Take this opportunity to automate the mundane and repetitive tasks. Reduce the “paperwork” and give people the opportunity to think, experiment, adapt, and solve the problems that really matter. How can we improve the customer experience? Where are we most successful? What drives our growth?
Automation is a key part of any solution because the business case of cost/revenue efficiency, productivity, and improved work environment has already been made. The current timing amid workplace transition and technology upgrade makes the decision simple.
The new environment is not just the old environment with new systems and technology.
How management think about and apply talent in the business will be a major factor to success. This might prove uncomfortable for managers that like to be able to see people at their desks. A recent article from the Harvard Business Review on “How to keep your team motived remotely” makes the following observations:
“What you measure is the single strongest signal to your people of what you care about.”
“The key is resisting the temptation to make work tactical only through strict processes, rules, and procedures.”
“While some degree of boundaries and guidelines help people move quickly, too many create a vicious spiral of demotivation. In such cases, people tend to stop problem-solving and thinking creatively, and instead, do the bare minimum.”
Rather than just measuring units and tasks completed, measure outcomes, achievement, motivation, or engagement. It may be as subtle as changing your measure format from KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) to OKR’s (Objectives and Key Results). As automation alters the structure of tasks and procedures, the value of talent shifts from what people do to what they can accomplish.
Our tendency is to think that robots (Robotic Process Automation - RPA) take peoples’ jobs. Research shows this is not the case. In an environment of growth, automation prevents administration costs from blowing out. Tasks are removed, people work differently. The workplace environment can become more engaging and job satisfaction is enhanced. Businesses function better and real talent shines bright.