The ‘normal’ today is instantly getting replaced by a “neo-normal”. And while the business ecosystem, workplaces, and workforces are not insulated from geopolitical, social or economic upturns and downturns, the competitive landscape too is intensifying and evolving as more and more organizations are digitally transforming to cater to the needs of their customers and employees alike. To counter such new realities of the emerging world, the need of the hour for organizations is to focus on future proofing themselves to minimize risks and stresses.
A report by Gartner reveals that “More than 3 million workers across the world will have a ‘RoboBoss’ by 2018.” We may not agree to this right now, but it cannot be shoved under the carpet for too long either. And while Artificial Intelligence and other technologies of the 4th Industrial Revolution have already raised the bar of how enterprises need to function, upskilling and reskilling have taken the center stage. So, what is it that going to take to ensure future-readiness of organizations? How do organizations adapt to the new technologies that have revolutionized workplaces?
Long-term planning: How many can visualize what’s going to happen in the next 5 years? According to a study by McKinsey, organizations are emphasizing more on short-term success and plans, and in that, long-term aspirations like being future-ready, succession planning, talent management are taking a backseat. The context of success has become short and in the process, long-term planning is getting out of context. Reality is that organizations and leaders are unable to cope with the realities of the new world order of technology disruption for which the skillsets have not yet evolved. It is crucial to realize that sustainability of skillsets is important and that organizations and leaders must keep in mind three things, which are: Imagining, reimagining, imagining the unimaginable; make changing easier; and upskilling.
From cultivating dynamic capability to stability, organizations need to be agile, quickly respond to change and benefit from that
Adaptability over stability: In the 60s or the 70s, till computers became the constant companion at the workplace, stability at work was considered to be the most important aspect. But this is not true anymore. The emphasis is now more on the capability to adapt to the rapidly changing world. In terms of leadership, adaptability is a competency that enables one to view a situation, adjust to it and find immediate solutions that will minimize the trials/challenges. Maintaining the status quo does not solve challenges; neither does the idea of refusing to change. Leadership today is about understanding employees, adopting strategies and coaching employees when they need it. In this disruptive world, it has become imperative for leaders to have this critical trait to enhance organizational success path. The idea of adaptability needs to be seen as an opportunity for growth, and as a measure of sustainability, while the ability to manage ambiguity while understanding the power of technology and appreciating the power of people is crucial.
Skilling efforts: By 2020, 75 percent of the workforce will consist of millennials. Many types of research have also revealed that on an average, the tenure of millennial employees is maximum 4.6 years – they like to move ahead in their careers within 6 months, a year or within 2 years. To be able to tide over this disruption in the workforce and manage the challenge of retaining such employees, learning and development initiatives need to be at par with the expectations of the workforce. A Gartner study reveals that “By 2018, 50 percent of the team collaboration and communication will occur through mobile group collaboration apps.” So how do we get the mosaic of learning come together? The onus lies on the leadership, employees, and on training initiatives. There has to be a paradigm shift in the mindset of the corporations. While reverse mentoring is one way to make learning more insightful, a call for the redefined mindset of the corporation is the need of the hour. Along with this, a close working with the government and the academia can augment employee-employer learning initiative in much better ways.
Institutionalizing agility: Organizational agility is one of the most critical aspects when it comes to future-proofing an organization. It is crucial for organizations to have agility in the organizational structure, people, and processes. From cultivating dynamic capability to stability, organizations need to be agile, quickly respond to change and benefit from that. But managing this necessitates a culture of transparency, speed, and learning along with a growth mindset. Organizations need to be dynamic and processes need to be agile without compromising on the values and ethos of the organization. If that means hierarchical structures need to be overlooked, then changes have to be made. Mobilizing mechanisms — allocating the right talent for the right function for addressing challenges and for grabbing opportunities — is the most important aspect of an agile organization.
In conclusion, organizations need to keep in mind that external disruption is the new constant, internal compulsions and complexities go hand in hand with external changes, continuous calibration of people is essential, employees need to rapidly evolve to keep pace with the changes, and institutionalizing forward-looking people practices are key imperatives.
(This article has been curated from various sessions at the Cornerstone OnDemand signature client & partner conference Converge India 2017.)