Large global events tend to accelerate developing societal norms. In our case, the pandemic accelerated the norm of remote work. It did so in a jarring manner that required rapid adjustment, creativity, and leadership. However, in many cases, the adjustment to a virtual work environment was not meant to be permanent. Organizations are now facing the challenge of navigating the task of returning to an office environment (however that may look).
This return-to-office initiative requires special considerations in the realm of culture, people strategy, and leadership. Safety is obviously a top priority, and combining this with the logistics of returning to an in-person work environment can tend to dominate the planning process. However, leaders should complement this planning with a thoughtful people strategy to manage the cultural impact inherent to such a monumental shift back to the office. There will also be several unique elements to the “new normal” that must be factored into planning and the new people strategy.
Our new approach to work will likely entail a hybrid model that combines both in-person office work with remote work. Some teams may find themselves in the office every day, some may periodically come in, and some may never return to the office. A leadership challenge associated with this varied approach to work is ensuring fairness across the board. For example, two team members in the same role may be viewed differently for opportunities and promotions if one is remote and the other is frequently in the office. We’ve seen how well employees can function in a remote environment, but how do you control for the “in-person bias” when determining how to allocate promotions and opportunities? How can you mitigate the effects of remote workers being naturally excluded from those crucial informal collaborations that team members have in the office? These are just a few questions leaders should be considering when planning for the return to work. Failure to adequately account for these human factors can result in a degraded company culture, siloed work, and ultimately higher turnover.
But it’s not all doom and gloom!
There are certain ways to mitigate the risk these human factors pose to a company’s return to an in-person work environment (however that may look). For example, establishing a generous timeline is important to the process. Studies have shown how humans are notoriously bad at estimating timelines, and it’s important to incorporate a patience factor to reduce the friction and stress teams may feel when returning to the office. Establishing a flexible process is also important for companies that have several locations to consider in their plan. To be successful, this must also be coupled with empowering leadership at the lowest levels. Combining flexible return-to-office policies and procedures with supporting local leadership in building their own implementation plans can reduce turnover, bolster morale, and potentially uncover unique solutions that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.
The transition back to an in-person work environment will look different for every organization. What is not different is how we should treat our people who have been through so much already. If you would like to learn more about managing your transition or incorporating human-centered design into your plan for a new normal, we’re here to help. This is our bread and butter, and we’re fired up about it. Contact me – firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you.
Every veteran eventually faces the same thing: the day they leave military service and venture into the civilian world to start the next chapter of their life. This is an exciting and uncertain period in a veteran’s life, where they’re thrown into the wild “real” world with only the skills they’ve honed as a servicemember. This transition period forces veterans to translate their existing skills into a value-add in civilian life and to figure out how they’ll engage the business community.
The process a veteran goes through in order to understand where their skills are valued and required in the private sector can take months or even years. It’s a process of self-discovery, devoid of the formal, regimented guidance veterans are used to having. Transitioning from active duty requires setting new civilian expectations for themselves, identifying how they want to use their skillset and ultimately picking a new career.
When transitioning into the civilian workforce, however, veterans often place unrealistic expectations on themselves and misinterpret the way society views them and their abilities. This misalignment of self-expectations and societal perceptions commonly results in a phenomenon known as imposter syndrome.
Seventy percent of people will experience imposter syndrome at some point in their life. Experts describe imposter syndrome as “an internal experience of intellectual phoniness in individuals who are highly successful but unable to internalize their success.” The syndrome often manifests itself through overworking, discounting successes, low self-assessments and anxiety about fear of failure. To understand how veterans develop and experience imposter syndrome, it’s helpful to take a look at their previous military environment. Read More…
Leadership Development is being affected by technological innovation, teleworking, and multi-generational teams. Kevin discusses how he has navigated these issues both in his military career and also as president of a cyber-security company. He tells relatable stories and gives actionable advice about how he approaches leadership development in this changing environment.
“Know your Marines and look out for their welfare.”
“Employ your Marines in accordance with their capabilities.”
These are two leadership principles the Marine Corps instills into its leaders at all levels, regardless of rank or seniority. These principles are taken seriously, as they can mean the difference between mission success and failure, life and death. Despite the stakes being different in the business world, these two concepts are vital to a leader’s success and, more importantly, that of their subordinates.
In our technologically infused, fast-paced world of business, the speed and amount of information available to us is unprecedented. Transactions now move faster, decisions are made quicker, and we’re able to collaborate and complete tasks more rapidly. However, leaders have largely missed one important side effect that can degrade the performance of their teams. Behavioral scientists call it the cognitive load, and it takes a toll on our teams more than we realize.
Simply put, the cognitive load is the mental “work” needed for any thought or action. Every task, conversation, email, project, meeting, etc. has a cognitive load price tag, and we all have a different capacity for what we can take on. This is why we spend hours refining our presentations to our leadership – there’s just too much information for them to consider and they want you to reduce the cognitive load required to make a decision.
“Take this pill and all your weight loss and fitness dreams will come true! No workouts needed!”
“Get that summer 6-pack in 30 days!”
…if only that were true.
We’ve all seen products that claim to have the “key” or the “hack” to the magazine-cover physique. We also know there’s no substitute for good old-fashioned hard work and dedication to achieve your fitness goals. So, be wary of those tactics, because looking for shortcuts doesn’t always work out.
However, there’s a difference between claiming to have found a way to “beat the system” and uncovering something that’s been under your nose the whole time. In this context, we’re talking about your company culture. Regardless of how “healthy” (or unhealthy) it may be, there is one thing you can do to make an immediate impact.
Disclaimer: This definitely won’t burn off that Hungry Man Chicken Dinner you just popped into the microwave.
It may not be intuitive to link something that is perceived to be as nebulous and qualitative as company culture to a quantitative, very nuts-and-bolts concept like internal business process. Surprisingly, these two concepts are much more interdependent than what meets the eye.
Internal business process is dependent on the thoughts, beliefs, norms, and behaviors of those tasked with adhering to it. On the other hand, company culture is woven into many aspects of an organization, including its systems and processes. Companies and teams with misaligned cultures can expect to experience more deviant behavior from their employees for a host of different reasons. This can include deviation from the norms surrounding internal business processes, where employees tend to complete tasks in their own way or build their own “way of doing things” altogether. If the culture is misaligned across the organization, shared accountability suffers and can perpetuate more variance in the way people accomplish their tasks. Read More…
Let’s face it- technology has our brains inundated with unprecedented amounts of information. As a result, we’ve developed countless platforms and pieces of technology infrastructure that keep us organized, efficient, and profitable. The advent of technology in the business world combined with its future potential makes this an exciting time for us all. Technology can rapidly access troves of data in seconds, enabling us to make decisions that are much more informed than those of yesteryear. However, we should think of these technological capabilities as tools to help us make more informed decisions, not as mechanisms to make decisions for us. Although this advice can be applied in several domains, it’s no more relevant than in the world of people analytics.
So what is “People analytics”?
People analytics, in layman’s terms, refers to the analytical method used to make decisions about human resources and human capital in an organization. People analytics informs HR strategy, hiring/downsizing efforts, and selecting the right candidates (to name a few). Fortunately, we’ve developed technological platforms that can assess and analyze certain variables to “predict” an employee’s success in his/her role. This can be done through simple correlation tables, more complex regression models, or even through advanced predictive modeling. Regardless of the method of analysis, organizations want to know they’re hiring the right person for the right role. They also want to know how to keep these people while understanding what contributes to longer tenure, or on the flip side – higher turnover.