for a smooth transition

November 15, 2017

1219Does working with people from different cultural backgrounds make one a better manager?

It is important for a manager to facilitate understanding and set common expectations among a team, so that any member can fully appreciate and achieve objectives which involve others—whether colleagues or customers—who may have different perspectives. People from varied cultural backgrounds generally bring a range of perspectives since they often have dissimilar experiences and understandings of specific situations. Therefore, managers who work across many cultural backgrounds can become more practiced at dealing with a variety of perspectives. In addition, research shows diverse viewpoints are important in the development of solutions for creative projects.

Why do you think some business leaders resist change in their systems?

Fear and inertia are the two most common reasons preventing change and progress. It is human nature to be comfortable with routine and established habits—these are known and familiar, even if conditions are far from perfect. The unknown is scary, involving risks and outcomes that might be hard to understand or manage. Leaders can therefore be hesitant to take risks that could disrupt the future of their business and or their job.

When a company is transitioning in order to embrace new technology, systems, and approach, what role do managers play in aligning executives with its goals?

Managers play a critical role in any transition. They are on the front line, working directly with employees. They are responsible for the execution of strategic plans and the reality of how any implementation actually works, such as how employees as well as customers are impacted and responding. Managers are able to share useful employee feedback with executives to confirm [that] the desired outcomes are being achieved or where refining or adjustment might be necessary.

Could you tell us about the ‘first principles’, the ‘four priorities’, and the ‘six pillars’ with reference to the ‘future of work’ concept?

A first-principles approach is the optimal way for companies to transition to a relevant future-of-work environment. It allows executives to step back and consider the ‘fundamental truths’ of their business, taking a neutral viewpoint distancing themselves from established habits. They can assess how to operate and serve customers differently from current operating practices. The priorities of engagement, personalization, integration, and choice are key for an organization to make an effective and sustainable transformation. The six pillars encompass critical areas to work through for affecting the change—technology; corporate culture and mindset; and leadership transparency and hierarchy are the top three.

Millennials are estimated to make up 50% of the global workforce by 2020. How challenging will it be to attract, engage, nurture, and retain them?

Societal developments over the last decades have caused a need for changes in work dynamics, which technological advances have now enabled and millions of millennials have embraced, such as working in non-office locations or at flexible times or with more focus on purpose. If desired arrangements are not accommodated at a specific company, many millennials are unlikely to pursue or stay in a role. Depending on that company, its corporate culture and the work and roles involved, it may be challenging to adapt to accommodate some of the changes that millennials are most interested in to engage them. Many modifications require nominal changes to adjust sufficiently, while others can involve much more time, effort, and real investment. However, since millennials are the engine of future growth for any organization, transformation to a relevant future-of-work environment is essential.

What positive impact can it make when a leader leads from within the organization rather than from top? Do trends suggest this is happening today more than ever before?

Where leaders are discarding traditional ‘command-and-control’ management practices and are pushing decision-making and control further down into the organization, the results are evident. Employees—especially knowledge workers—are more engaged and therefore more productive when they have more autonomy and choice over how they achieve their assigned tasks and outcomes are the focus. More executives and managers are leading from within, exhibiting more empathy for their workforce and utilizing new technologies to personalize employees’ experiences, work and benefits and data is confirming the positive consequences.

In future, will the process of hiring focus on the ‘purpose of the employee taking up the job’ rather than ‘his/her eligibility’ or the ‘company’s requirement’? Can this help organizations find employees who will stay with them for long?

There is research to show that when employees find purpose in the intrinsic value of their work, they will stay at that job longer and do better work. It will behoove both employer and employee to include additional criteria to assess a candidate’s fit for a specific position. These parameters will seek to understand the connection that a prospect has with the organization’s values and mission—how deeply do they resonate and therefore how lasting and meaningful they will be. This will help both sides recognize the value of the investment that each is likely to spend in the other upon commencement of any employment agreement and the value that will accrue to the business.

Could you tell us the why, the how, and the feasibility of setting up a personalized workplace environment?

If an employee feels recognized as an individual and respected by their employer, a strong relationship is able to build—one based on trust and reciprocity, which can be deeper and longer-lasting than recent traditional employer/employee relationships. Feeling comfortable and supported, an employee is able to engage fully in their work, and productivity and loyalty increase. Individual customization of jobs and careers takes time and attention to incorporate and compromise sufficiently for each person and among team members. However, studies show the positive benefits are worth it—especially with younger employees who often leave without such accommodations.

Should companies start depending wholly or even mostly on freelancers for executive-level work to make maximum use of their talent?

Each company has a unique combination of workers who create and deliver their products or services to relevant audience(s). Independent contractors can be well-utilized at every level of most organizations, depending on business requirements which may change with the market, customer segment, season, roles, task etc. Greater use of the full range of employment arrangements may allow a company to benefit from targeted and highly-specialized junior and senior talent who might not be accessible or affordable otherwise. At the same time, management needs or employment laws may require particular executive roles to be employees, while other jobs may be filled by part-time or project-based workers. The decision on the appropriate employment arrangement to engage any particular person can involve many different factors.

What will be the implications of individuals choosing ‘latticed careers’? Will companies face a shortage of specialist talent with decades of experience in work?

Organizations were already 25% flatter in 2011 than they were twenty years before. With reduced hierarchy, horizontal and diagonal career moves—encompassed in latticed careers—are necessary for employers to retain the interest and develop the skills of their employees. Depending on the company, some people may be able to add to their specialization moving within a specialized department or division. Others can move across the company becoming a well-rounded employee with a greater range of experience and understanding of
the business.

Many companies are already investing in a lot of, if not all, things that are a part of the ‘Future of Work’ environment. Will there be total or near-total success in this regard?

As society and technology keep on developing, so too does the marketplace and future-of-work environments continue to evolve and are not static ‘destinations’. Companies likely to excel are those that are more willing to embrace new ideas and solutions and that conduct frequent reviews and iterations as developments continue. The dynamic nature of the environment makes it hard to anticipate ‘total success’ for any organization. Many enterprises are certainly paying increasing attention to necessary future-of-work transformation. However, so far few organizations have started to adapt sufficiently to achieve huge success in the near-term. With so much change in process, the overall situation is likely to be rather ‘messy’ for a good decade. However, I am enthusiastic about the transition to better employment circumstances for workers that benefit companies’ profits as well.

(As told to Ashutosh Gotad)