Most organizations likely think they are prepared for the changing workplace, but in reality, very few companies are ready for the future. That's according to Marcus Buckingham, New York Times best-selling author. The reason for the lack of preparation? Organizations don't have a good handle on their people and how to structure things accordingly.
So much of the thinking and progress in an organization is based about the outdated view of a company as a hierarchy, but very few modern companies actually operate that way. Instead, the best companies use a model of dynamic teams with engaging team leaders. However, business plans, organizational structure, and data is often designed with the CEO in mind instead of the team leaders who are actually interacting with employees and customers and putting the plan into action every day. As Marcus says, many organizations are like a modern new home with rusty plumbing inside. From the outside things may look good, but a huge part of the internal structure is outdated and hurting the integrity of the home.
Imagine someone who is tasked with leading the nursing unit of a busy hospital. The company is designed with the CEO in mind and conducts annual reviews and surveys a few times a year to measure engagement and performance. The team leader of the unit is then left with quickly figuring out how to use all of that data to find ways to better the employees and the department as whole. It's a nightmare scenario and one that goes against the basics of the future of work--that employees have the flexibility, freedom, and tools to do their job in the best way possible.
Instead, organizations should focus on bringing power back to the team leaders. The heart and soul of any organization is really about how employees are working and improving on a daily basis. Creating strategies and measuring success based on those metrics shows a forward-thinking approach that takes into account how employees want to work in the future. The future of work should be built around things that the best team leaders are already doing.
To truly prepare your organization for the future of work and to push past the siloed ways of thinking that have dominated the business world for decades, Marcus has four suggestions for managers and leaders:
- Focus on team leaders. The future of work is really in the hands of the people leading the dynamic groups. Managers and team leaders should receive almost all of the training, which will lead to better teams and more engaged workers. Give team leaders the tools they need to measure and know what is going in the company and with their teams.
- Check in frequently. The old way of thinking used ratings and rankings to measure employee performance once or twice a year. However, modern employees prefer and do better when they are coached on a regular basis in a personal and organic way. Team leaders should meet with their employees on a weekly basis to discuss just the work, but not the performance. Frequent meetings give employees the tools they need to grow and succeed, and it keeps the team leader engaged in what employees are doing.
- Focus on strengths. The best organizations know how to leverage each employee's unique characteristics and advantages. While some organizations focus on identifying weaknesses and improving, forward-thinking companies have strengths-based cultures and focus on existing strengths to better each team.
- Be data fluent. There is a ton of data circling every organization these days, and the only way to truly take advantage of it is to know how to distinguish bad data from good data. The best data is collected a few pieces at a time as frequently as possible. Good data includes things that are integrated and countable, not arbitrary things like ratings. Forget about big-picture data that is often full of bad data and instead focus on just a few metrics that are close to the action.
Changing how we think about teams, people, and organizational structure is what will really prepare your organization for the future of work. By shifting your thinking to focus on team leaders, you should be able to see great growth, increased engagement, and improved results and performance.