“The future is already here; it's just unevenly distributed.”
~ William Gibson
I am always saying that COVID-19has just accelerated the transformation in areas like digital transformation, new ways of working and different areas of business. In view of different global, technological, workplace and workforce trends, the total narrative will change. If you want to distinguish between high performing organizations and average organizations following are the focus areas, high performing organizations have. It is just not for their corporate presentations, but they have strategic intent which is very much weaved in their corporate strategy.
I have spoken with different leaders/CHROs during pandemic, participated in different webinars and studied different research done by top consultants like McKinsey, PwC etc. and I have interesting findings. Following are those imperatives & trends if followed, chances of being successful is more.
“People First” Focused Strategy
Speaking about “People First” strategy is very good. Most of the organizations are already speaking about it, but very few organizations are working on this. It is very sad that organizations are laying off employees who are working with them for long. However high performing organizations are now consolidating on talent strategy. They have already incorporated 3P (People, Planet and Profit) elements in the strategy.
People: I have read and listened to a lot of CEOs quoting that people are their asset. The statements of those CEOs like, “We can’t be successful in the society which fails”. Or “Business can't succeed in a failing society” are popular in the media. However, very few organizations have pragmatic policies on this and integrated with their purpose and mission statement. Organizations which have integrated are doing great today. Taking care of people who are working with you and people around you in society is novel thought. It is not just about employees but society at large.
Sustainability & Planet
Sustainability is a long term. It is avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance. Lot of organizations are working to reduce their carbon footprint and trying to maintain the ecological balance by manufacturing clean products and focusing on 3R (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle). It is very important to understand which planet we want to transfer to new generations.
Profit with ethical standards
We have grown listening that earning profit is bad. So-called leftist ideology and trade unions associated the business as a bad evil and conditioned the mind of people negatively like capitalism is there to exploit employees and society. But they totally failed to understand that you can’t survive on their principle and hence big communist countries themselves are capitalist mind exploiting the society.
High performing organizations have views that ethical profitability is far more than merely operating within the boundaries of the law. The true test of ethical profitability is whether or not the company is a positive example to its employees, to its customers and even to other companies. Such companies practice the truest form of leadership-by-example.
Digital Transformation to Digital Integration
We have discussed a lot about digital transformation. We all know that COVId-19 has accelerated the digital agenda in organizations. High performing organizations are not now speaking about the transformation but digital integration. It is about creating a habit of using and integrating digital platforms in our day to day life. You need to develop people on how to use those, how to present, how to sell and how to collaborate. It is about different behaviours than digital technology itself.
Gen Z Will Take Over, (born between 1997 to 2016)
Organizations always struggle when there is an addition of the next generation in the workforce. Youth born between 1997 to 2000 are ready to join the workforce. We have seen a lot of challenges of generation X while managing the millennial generation. All generations are different and unique. Their style is different, and their ambition is different. Organizations have to work on inclusion and diversity and making the life easy of all generations. It includes training them on managing people, bringing the diverse view in talent management and talent development initiatives. Your talent management process which you used to work 10 years back will not work today. You need an action -based talent management system instead of just mapping the people in the talent grid and then forgetting them. Organizations also have to change their views on the definition of talent.
The Gig Economy is the New Economy
We have seen gig workers in ecommerce, food delivery, travel aggregators like Amazon, Swiggy, Uber, Ola etc. Indian industry has been working with contract labour for the last 2 decades. The gig economy is now prominent in blue collar jobs. After COVID-19, it will still be popular. However, I am expecting this in white collar jobs also. The Younger generation will be more interested to find the joy and more income from different jobs with different companies with different skills. Free lancers, consultants and retainers will be more. Organizations have to frame policies on how to manage and engage those workforces. There will be social security and information security issues which have to be handled carefully in future.
Innovation in Business Models
Business needs to be more innovative. They need to reinvent themselves and different business models driven by the technology. Companies also have to think about what those new models are. We have some examples improving the business with the help of technology. Disruptive innovations are changing the rule of the game and you really need to think differently if you want to be in this game.
Customer experience is in the focus,
It is not just selling your product or service. It is more about the customer experience. In the market where your product becomes a commodity over a period of time, you don’t have an option to differentiate it with the value and solution selling. Your customers will come back only when they are happy, satisfied and delighted with your services. It is not about the price and product itself but how it is sold, delivered and serviced further without any problems to the customer.
Online reviews are a double-edged sword. Small mistakes can cost huge loss in reputation and revenue. We have a lot of examples in recent years. If customers are treated with respect and service well, they will be your brand ambassadors. Company CEOs and celebrity brand ambassadors need to be very cautious on what they communicate, write and speak on social and public forums. Instant reviews about your product and services will decide the future of your business.
Meaningful career and not only jobs
Meaningful career is where you connect with the purpose of the organization and your job. You feel satisfied and happy by doing that in a stress-free, enriched, and ethical way. To do this you understand your interest values and skills. You identify your preferred style and find the community to help you to grow in the organization or outside the organization. In short, a meaningful career is one where we feel an authentic connection between the work we do and a broader life purpose beyond the self. Millennials and Z generation is more motivated by the purpose of the organization, career development, empowerment, and openness. They will continue and will be more demanding in this.
Few organizations have already started prioritizing talent management agenda. Lot of organizations have to follow it to be competitive in the market.
From skills to Human skills, Innovations in creating those skills.
To do all above we need talent. With the technology changes and new way of working, employees will have to work on human skills instead of just technical and functional skills. With AI, ML, Sensors, IoT, Additive Printing etc people will need skills where they will manage the automation speedily but also people around them.
Organizations will become more flatter; Organizations will move to project/product-based work groups without any formal reporting lines. Employees will have to work in a web and matrix environment where networking and influencing, collaborating on a virtual platform will be crucial. To do this every employee will have to learn fast. Hence if you want to stay in the course develop your people on human skills along with functional skills.
A wise person said that only one thing is constant in this world is change. There are external forces which are forcing us to change. There are some indications we are already getting, and we need to take a clue from that.
Finally, I would like to quote Darwin, (researchers say that Darwin never said it) “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”