The world of work is going through a period of rapid change and disruption. New styles of organisations are emerging as leaders rethink their approaches to structure, leadership and people management.
The ‘new world’ organisation has evolved in response to market conditions, the impact of technology and the differing expectations of GenY and Digital Natives in the workplace. What has emerged is a flatter, more agile organisation where alignment around a common purpose, employee empowerment and collaboration are the norm.
Success in this new world of work will depend upon how quickly organisations adapt and how agile they are in responding to unexpected developments in their markets.
Here are the five questions organisations need to ask now:
How should we be structured?
Many organisations are discounting the traditional hierarchical structures in favour of flatter, more collaborative networks with fluid teams. The drive for organisational agility, often to respond to customer demands for ‘right here, right now’ service and/or the need to bring new products or services to market more quickly, is necessitating shorter planning timeframes.
Within this fluid team network, the traditional lines between functions have become blurred. Teams are often formed, share information, create tasks and then disband in order to move onto new projects. This requires both leaders and team members to approach their work differently. Having the right mindset as well as the right skillset will be crucial to success.
What type of leaders do we need now and in the future?
With a workforce comprised of five generations and increased emphasis on fluid, collaborative working, the very idea of what makes a good leader has changed.
The once accepted traits of decisiveness, extraversion and motivation are now being replaced by abstract thinking, collaboration and employee empowerment.
Alongside this, the concept of ‘leadership at all levels’ recognises the leadership contribution of employees across the organisation and their need to be informed, enabled and empowered to achieve company goals. Agile and innovative, this new breed of leader is informed by data, enabled by the right tools and empowered by authority.
What type of employee will we need and how will we differentiate ourselves to attract the right talent?
Working in a ‘new world’ organisation of fluid team structures requires a very different type of employee. Increasingly, organisations are discovering that not all skilled developers or digital marketers, for example, are capable of or even want to work in an agile, fluid environment where the lines between functions are blurred and cross-team collaboration is the norm.
In this context, employers are rethinking their approach to talent acquisition: focusing on natural abilities, attitude and mindset as well as skillset.
Equally, many organisations are recognising that their “workforce” does not have to be restricted to employees on their established headcount. Today, “workforce” often includes gig economy, freelance workers and even crowdsourcing.
How will we manage and drive productivity in a changing and unpredictable environment?
Understanding what great will look like in your version of the ‘new world’ organisation will be key to building a sustainable high-performance environment. Building employee profiles based upon high performer attributes, analysing the gaps in existing individuals and teams and then designing a robust talent acquisition strategy and development programme will be key.
How will we drive engagement and retention in an organisation with five generations, all with different expectations?
Alongside breaking down hierarchical structures, many organisations are dismantling their traditional approaches to career planning, engagement and development. The underlying principle here is recognising the individual employee’s particular needs.
Driven by the attitudes of their younger generation employees, rather than thinking in terms of a ‘career ladder’ with an upward trajectory, organisations are increasingly responding to demand for a sequence of ‘experiences’ and creating opportunities where people can move both side to side, as well as up and down.
Alongside this, the ‘right here, right now’ mindset is signalling the end of the annual appraisal in favour of regular, informal 360 feedback, project reviews and real-time engagement surveys. Meanwhile, training for the Google generation has become always-on learning, often based on user generated questions, when individuals build their knowledge quickly, remotely and on their own terms.