This week I was walking through Windsor and I passed by a private school with a banner outside advertising places. The banner read “Real World Ready”
This really caught my attention as I was reflecting on the plans being made to come out of lockdown and start to open up the economy further. Since the start of the pandemic, we have bene operating in this slightly unreal environment. Many employees are on furlough, their salary costs being covered by the government. Others have been working from home, operating in enforced isolation from others. Even where business have required people to be on site social distancing has been in operation and restrictions have been in place.
Overall, the world of work has responded well to the dramatic changes needed to cope with the pandemic so far. Yet, we all know that the current reality is not going to be our permanent reality.
I believe that the next phase of our transition is going to be the most demanding. The word of the moment is hybrid – but what this will actually mean in practice is yet to be determined. How do we not only create systems to enable and empower people to work effectively in a sustainable way? How do we co-ordinate and encourage collaboration when we have a variety of different workflow practices being implemented?
Despite what has happened over the past 12 months there is an opportunity now to make some intentional choices about HOW we want to design our workplaces for the future.
The start point has to be what is fundamental purpose of the organisation – what is the WHY? When you are able to define your purpose – when you are able to get clarity on the WHY that exists at the heart of what you are doing then WHAT you do has more impact. Equally when you have a clear WHY then you can design HOW you work to ensure that your why is amplified and augmented.
One of the models I help leadership teams navigate is called C-VST-R and I truly believe this is one of the most important times to apply this model. As we deliberately design our future workplaces we need to be very mindful of a number of different factors.
- Culture – the first part of the C-VST-R model is the Culture. As we know a company culture has a significant impact on the performance and therefore the outputs of an organisation. What is achieved and how it is achieved are all directly linked to the culture that is created.
Cultures can exist by design or by default.
If we want to make fundamental changes to the way we operate our business and truly apply a hybrid approach we cannot do this without also doing work on creating a culture that supports it.
We cannot hope to create this change and make it work if we are still operating from a cultural norm of a largely “office” based business. There will be friction at every stage if we try to do this.
What does this culture need to be to enable a fully dynamic, dispersed workplace with the freedoms to decide when, how and where to work to enable the best outcomes for the business?
- Vision – what specifically does the future look like? This does not need to be a policy or a set of guidelines – this is a detailed imagination of what it will feel like to work in the real world beyond the pandemic.
The vision has to relate to the culture – it is the bringing to fruition the key facets of the culture and really expresses how this is different and what is this desired state.
Without a clear vision people will create their own view of what works, and this may not then create the alignment needed. In a vacuum people want to fill the void. This is where leaders need to be able to clearly articulate what they want to see –
- Strategy – this is where we get into the enablers that allow the vision to happen. The strategy are the key operating changes needed to enable the shift. Every part of the organisation should be looked at and re-designed based on the revised culture and vision.
- Tactics – once the culture is defined and the vision articulated then every decision can be aligned and verified against this ideal. When there is a clear sense of direction it makes day to day choices much easier to address.
- Finally, we have Relationships – we know that all of this is unlikely to land if we are not creating the kind of relationships that are founded on trust. Therefore, we have to work hard to empower and enable each team member to operate from a position of being seen as trustworthy. Their ability to make effective decisions for the improvement of their role and ability to produce.
How are you getting real world ready?
The latest edition of the Microleadership Podcast is available where I am talking about how to help you get real world ready – you can listen to it here: https://anchor.fm/microleadership/episodes/Season-3-Episode-7–A-better-way-to-lead-esc3oe