The world of work as we know it is going to look drastically different from what it is now, post-COVID-19. With hybrid models of work becoming the norm and a rising number of companies working from home, what also needs to change is the leadership narrative. There is an imminent need to relook at new models of leadership, from purpose to engagement to experience. The People Matters EX Virtual Conference on 19th June is our endeavor to throw the spotlight on employee experience (EX) to reiterate its importance, especially in today’s changing times.
The Virtual Conference aims to spark ideas and initiate actions on accelerating the development of a consumer mindset to solving people & work challenges in order to attract and retain future talent, bolstering productivity and ultimately building happier workplaces. The conference will bring together experts who are leading the conversation on EX in their respective organizations.
One such expert is Shreyasi Singh, Founder & CEO, Harappa Education. In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Shreyasi shares ways in which leaders will need to reimagine purpose and engagement in the organization.
2020 has been a tough year. How do you think it will impact the way leadership needs to evolve?
2020 has been confusing, chaotic and challenging. It has changed the way we live, learn, and work. Leaders, more than ever before, need to adapt quickly to change to address the rapidly-evolving needs of their employees and customers.
“To succeed, leaders will need to adopt a more inclusive, collaborative, and people-driven approach. They will also need to inspire their teams to work independently. People become even more important during a crisis.”
The ability to effectively support and manage your workforce is critical during this period of change. How you engage, motivate, and inspire your teams will define your success as a leader.
Yet, at some level, leadership doesn’t really change: the basic elements of purpose, energy, and drive that leaders provide through communication, collaboration, and by being strong role models remain fundamental and essential. Crisis situations are just better at revealing poor leadership.
As COVID-19 has shown, organizations will have to equip themselves to deal with the rapid rate of change and all sorts of crises. What do you think are going to be some new models of leadership?
In times of intense change and ambiguity, beyond developing comfort with change and chaos, leaders will also be asked to hold on to the values that defined them and their organization. The Change-Consistency Paradox is an onerous and tight walk rope for leaders at this time. How do you adapt every day without seeming erratic, inconsistent, and ill-prepared?
“Leaders will also need to create more robust feedback loops: how to close initiatives that are not working, how to decide to launch new initiatives, how to set targets in real-time, and revise them.”
A time like this won’t allow for slow-burn decision making where you have the luxury to wait for all the evidence. Leaders will need to accelerate the quality and quantum of signals they collect to make important decisions, faster than ever before.
As things change and pivot, new priorities will get highlighted; and some teams, ideas, and functions will be put in cold-storage. Few leaders will have the ability to hire for every skill every new project needs. They will need to become more masterful at resource allocation and build and monitor skill-based cross-functional task forces for important initiatives.
What are some of the workplace changes which leaders will need to lead their organizations through in order to be agile and future proof?
Four aspects will play a key role in keeping organizations agile: developing a continuous learning mindset, collaborating effectively, communicating clearly, and managing employee well-being.
Managing employee safety and mental well-being should be a top priority; especially as offices start opening up. These uncertain times are leaving everyone feeling stressed and anxious. So, it's important for leaders to put processes in place for regular check-ins, and provide constant support to their workforce.
Leaders will need to be even more transparent by constantly communicating their vision to the entire organization to ensure each employee is aware and aligned to the company’s goals. Many of these goals will be in swift churn, so both frequency and quality of communication will have to be raised.
Organizations will also need to re-design training programs to provide essential behavioral skills that will help employees think, solve, communicate, collaborate, and lead effectively. These habits are crucial for professional success, especially under our current circumstances.
What are some of the workplace changes which leaders will need to make to reimagine purpose and engagement in the organization?
Leaders will need to reimagine several things: the workplace itself, work timings, and productivity rhythms. Many countries and organizations have had extended lockdowns, possibly with 3-6 months of mandatory or mostly complete work from home.
Collaboration, work style, and productivity habits and behaviors have been significantly shaped at this time.
“Employees will want to reclaim many of the social elements of the workplace, but will possibly also seek the convenience and productivity gains of work from home. Reconciling that will be new learning for leaders and organizations.”
How do you create a third, blended model of working, where people are neither all WFH nor all at work? The design of the office will need to change to keep pace with this. If people come to office fewer times, and come for activities that they could not do when working from home, like socializing, brainstorming, and working alongside each other, do they need to sit quietly at their desks to do so? Or, will you actually need more meeting rooms and communal spaces to make this need possible?
How do you think employee experience will change in organizations in a post- COVID world?
So much still needs to evolve for us to know for sure how things will change. We are still in the middle of the pandemic and few of us are back in the office. Yet, cultural immersion, onboarding practices, and building camaraderie, in a more remote, distributed team will become crucial for companies.
Will this enable companies to expand their talent pool beyond local/city-based hiring? If so, how do you work and integrate someone as well into the company’s cultural fabric, especially if he/she sits outside your office?
“Informal events and team get-togethers are core to the office experience. For the next year or so, when large gatherings seem unlikely, architecting rituals of joy and fun will need the most innovation and smart thinking; so that people’s experience of work isn’t an everyday monotony of calls.”
To learn from her and other experts as to what it takes to create a world of incredible experiences, join us for the People Matters EX: A Virtual Conference on 19th June