We are so used to building things to last. But what about building to adapt?
Craig Raath, executive director of 21st Century, shares his thoughts about the new mindset in the workplace, with particular focus on people management.
Let’s start with an analogy: if a bridge over a river is built to withstand the worst possible conditions and the surrounding area is then hit by a hurricane, what use is the bridge if it is left standing in exactly the same position it was before when the access roads and the river around it have been shifted by the catastrophe?
The analogy could be applied to people management during and post COVID-19. Ways of working have changed and rigid working models simply don’t fit anymore. Given the changing workplace, we need to be building models that are agile enough to adapt to the change around us.
A hybrid team is a flexible work structure where some employees work remotely and other team members work from a central location or office. And the hybrid approach to working has gained momentum rapidly. In fact, we have seen mass resistance to returning to the once ‘traditional’ working model.
We are also seeing a shift from shareholderism to stakeholderism and a global move to the triple bottom line or ‘PPP’ – profit, people and planet.
In the new era, organisations can and should be driven by purpose, not just profit. The most successful companies don’t target profit directly but are driven by purpose – the desire to serve a societal need and contribute to human betterment. And the only way you can embed that into practice is to create both profit and social value. From a people perspective, organisations are now being chosen as employers based on their Employee Value Proposition (EVP) – and being purpose, rather than profit-driven is at the core of a strong EVP.
The new corporate scorecard
The concept of ESG (environment, social and governance) measures in corporate scorecards has been boosted by the move to stakeholderism and the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
* Environment – greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (South Africa is the 14th largest emitter in the world), non-renewable energy, renewable energy, environmental Incidents, air quality, land management, water and wastewater management, waste and hazardous materials management and sustainability measures.
* Social – fatalities, injuries, illnesses, exposure to harmful substances, workplace policies, gender balance, diversity and inclusion, employee engagement, employee voluntary turnover, training and development, behaviours, ethics, values, and company culture.
* Governance – governance at the board level, governance at executive level, risk management, compliance, behaviours, ethics, values and culture.
Managing hybrid teams
Outcomes are the new Outputs. For the purposes of explanation, the outcomes are what the business aims to achieve. The outputs are the actions or the journey that contribute to achieving an outcome. This again ties to purpose-driven ways of working, as opposed to a profit-driven structure. For this to work, a culture of ownership and accountability must run throughout the organisation.
In a hybrid model, mentorship and feedback are an extremely important growth factor for the company’s EVP. We have seen far greater emphasis on coaching and development, and regular daily feedback – often multiple times daily – is the cornerstone of employee engagement.
Micro-management is simply not an option with a workforce that is not ‘under the office manager’s thumb’ anymore. The new management trend is more focused on building relationships of trust and measuring results and outcomes. Scheduling casual conversations and using multiple forms of communication are key to maintaining positive output.
All of the above links to one all-important factor – culture. Company culture is the very basis of an effective EVP. It reinforces the desired organisational behaviour and links directly to results. Rest assured, if culture comes first, performance will follow.
Returning to the bridge analogy; we live in a time when effective performance management means that policies and procedures must be revisited regularly, or else their relevance will simply blow away in the hurricane of change.
It’s time we get used to the fact that the workplace will never be the same again. The age of the ever-evolving EVP is here to stay. Let’s embrace it and create value for our biggest assets – our people.