The evolving workplace
After the shelter-in-place order, Joanne saw organizations shift their HR and D&I resources to focus on keeping business running and their people safe. As a result, people teams moved away from learning and development initiatives to full triage mode.
“I had to find a way to quickly recover from a loss of income and change my mindset from self-pity to proactivity. I mourned the loss of my former business model and tried to move through that process to become a functioning human being again. I had to shift my mindset from all the feelings of loss into acceptance and pivot to action.”
Joanne understood that teams needed her offering now more than ever, but couldn’t access or afford her services in the way they could before the pandemic. Leaning into her expertise, Joanne adapted her delivery methods to work remotely and decided to use this as an opportunity to give back to her network and establish her personal brand.
“Employers in the past have always put this barrier up to say, ‘what happens outside of the workplace is not our problem.’ Now we’ve had to extend that bubble to encompass people’s personal lives.”
“Employers in the past have always put this barrier up to say, ‘what happens outside of the workplace is not our problem.’ Now we’ve had to extend that bubble to encompass people’s personal lives. I encourage companies to adopt a person-centric approach and see employees as a whole – as parents, caretakers, activists. Some individuals have to watch their young children during calls. Some LGBTQ+ employees may not be fully out at home but open at work. So this is our new challenge.”
Person-centric leadership is about taking time to listen, allowing people to talk, and creating a platform where people can be heard. It all starts at the top, and strong leaders are the ones who go that extra mile and actually speak to their teams to better understand their people.
“The challenge of the future is to bring humanity into management and leadership.”
“Companies typically hire leaders who are experts in their field, but they haven’t necessarily been trained to be counselors or mediators. HR is often expected to deal with the more human side of things, but now leaders need to be equipped for this because HR can’t talk to everybody. I encourage organizations to look at their leaders and identify training opportunities. The challenge of the future is to bring humanity into management and leadership.”
Redefining performance with a lens toward D&I
Global uncertainty and racial injustice have opened the door to reconsider what it means to be successful as an employee. Performance has been traditionally based on results, but now that the barrier between work and life has been broken, we have the opportunity to redefine what success looks like.
“Something I hear all the time in recruitment is ‘we hire for meritocracy.’ And I always challenge people by asking: Who decides what has more merit? Which element of a personality or a process has the most merit? Who does the weighting?”
These are the questions we need to be asking to help evolve performance management. No one has the answers yet, so there is an opportunity to build KPIs around emotional intelligence and soft skills in addition to work output.
“Work has changed, and it’s critical to understand soft skills as a key driver of performance.”
“I’d like to see leaders of the future match their performance KPIs with people-centric KPIs. This would adjust individual performance metrics to also measure emotional intelligence and empathy. We have to break the cycle of promoting disruptors whose opinions and values aren’t aligned with how the company sees its vision and values. We need to recognize the fact that work has changed, and it’s critical to understand soft skills as a key driver of performance.”
In this vein, it’s important to understand that personal circumstances also impact performance. Someone who is single may have the ability to work longer hours, whereas someone else who is equally as talented may have familial responsibilities after hours. It no longer makes sense to judge performance entirely on output. Organizations are tasked with finding new ways to take these factors into account and provide equal opportunities.
“Freedom of choice is a privilege. Not everyone can make a choice to uproot their livelihood for the sake of their job. But there’s strength in numbers, and as more people stand up for themselves and demand work-life balance, organizations are realizing that this is the only way to hire, motivate, and retain employees.”
People want to be valued for the quality of their work, not the number of hours they put in. This is a major culture shift and though many organizations are going to struggle with it, people are already beginning to challenge the traditional ways of working.
A new status quo
We don’t have complete control over where the future is going, but there is a clear shift in mindset and priorities that will help shape the future practices of companies.
“I’d like to see companies become cognizant of the fact that people want a new kind of status quo. It may take time, but the crisis and social unrest we’re facing have been a major catalyst in driving this forward. I hope leaders are using this time to reflect on their own vulnerability. Organizations are made up of people, and to succeed, they need to value the things that make us human.”Read less