Opinions expressed by Businessman the taxpayers are yours.
As we approach the end of 2021, it’s time to reflect on how hard the pandemic shook the business world. Some leaders are embracing change, inspired to grow their businesses in a new way. Others are forced to adopt a different way of thinking and acting, desperately waiting for things to return to normal. Whatever it is.
But we will never go back to normal, nor should we want to. Society faces unprecedented challenges as we grapple with inequality, climate change, collapsing healthcare systems and supply chains, labor shortages, the advancement of technology such as artificial intelligence, and political systems. polarized. The weight of these challenges can be overwhelming and motivating at the same time. And it’s time for leaders to look in the mirror and admit that the way we’ve been doing things isn’t working. We have to change the way we run our business, how we treat our people, and how we impact the planet.
If you want to be a leader at the forefront of change, now is the time to embrace a new way of leading. It is time to oppose the old system and forge new trends, new cultures and new companies.
As a disruptive executive for a decade and a half, I have learned how to lean on the rejection you get when you challenge the status quo. In leading an employee-owned business, I have experienced how simple it is to put your people first. And managing the transformation from a toolmaking company to a technology company, I have discovered how to overcome setbacks and failures, persevering to make a vision come true. And you can too by embracing these five leadership trends in 2022.
1. Creating a culture of wellness
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), depression causes approximately 200 million lost work days a year and costs employers between $ 17 billion and $ 44 billion. This is amazing.
The leaders of the future are paying attention. As we approach 2022, we must create cultures where employee well-being comes first. Change like this starts at the top, and leaders must lead by example. Each person on a company’s executive team must be committed to wellness in the workplace, modeling a holistic lifestyle where physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health are the top priorities. The days of work, work and more work are over. People yearn for more balance and well-being in life, and leaders who ignore or resist addressing it will be left behind.
Second, leaders must create a supportive environment that focuses on the whole person, not just the work side. A supportive environment offers resources for depression and other mental health problems and incentives for exercise and healthy eating behaviors. Businesses should offer EAP services that address mental health and financial, spiritual, and social well-being. Creating an enabling environment requires an investment in training. Training on how to create psychological safety where employees feel safe to talk about their well-being. Training on how to be more empathetic and when to acknowledge that an employee is struggling. Training on how to talk about challenging topics. Training on how to live a healthier lifestyle.
And finally, keep the lines of communication open and consistent. Improving and maintaining wellness is a process. Sometimes there are two steps back for every step forward. The best way to help employees stay on track is to talk openly about their progress and setbacks. Leaders should check in with their employees regularly to see how things are going and have meaningful wellness conversations each week.
Related: Is Your Company Embracing These Employee Wellness Trends?
2. Invest in the development of your employees
A 2013 study published by researchers at the University of Oxford estimates that just under 50 percent of total US employment is at high risk of automation over the next two decades. It’s no wonder there is so much fear surrounding the future of work. We don’t understand what this means for our careers and our livelihoods. It is unsettling not to understand what future jobs will be like. That is why leaders must embrace improving the skills of their workforce.
Leaders can begin by designing a learning and development program focused on learning new technologies and software, advancing job-specific knowledge and skills, and teaching effective management and leadership techniques, including power skills such as empathy, listening, problem solving and communication. Effective skill enhancement programs include job rotation, the practice of moving employees between jobs, and job expansion, adding new tasks and responsibilities to an employee’s job. Finally, consider investing in training and mentoring activities. At my company, we use outside consultants to help improve the skills of key employees, and the results have been outstanding, yet challenging to scale. Peer coaching and mentoring are also very effective, if you provide structure and set expectations.
3. Address inequality within your culture
According to the recent Gallup report, Employee burnout: causes and cures, “76 percent of employees experience burnout on the job at least some of the time, and 28 percent say they burn out ‘very often’ or ‘always’ at work.” And the main factor causing burnout? Unfair treatment at work.
Leaders have a responsibility to ensure that the workplace is as fair and equitable as possible. It is not easy to know where to start and I suggest you start with payment. Complete a comprehensive employee compensation assessment, looking at it from all angles, such as gender, role, and the gap between individual contributors, mid-level managers, and executive leadership. Then address inequalities. There is no reason why a CEO should earn 350 times more than a typical worker or that the sole purpose of your company is to maximize shareholder value. These are some of the reasons why we find ourselves in this situation of staggering inequality and deep mistrust in our leaders.
Unless, of course, it’s an employee-owned company, like us. Our goal is to maximize value for our shareholders, and that’s because our shareholders are our employees. Our goal is to create value and wealth for all of our employees, not just a few who are lucky enough to be at the top. More companies should adopt this philosophy.
Other ways to tackle inequality in the workplace? Invest in bias training that focuses on sharing experiences and teaching intersectionality. Create safe spaces for underrepresented people to access support and provide them with a platform to share their stories. Review and modernize your hiring practices to source more intentionally, looking beyond homogeneous networks so you can tap into more diverse candidate pools. Conduct panel interviews to allow diverse perspectives. Use a structured interview process, including a scorecard, so that all candidates are asked the same questions in the same order and ranked based on ability and competence, rather than general and highly biased statements such as “I like them”. They seem to fit in well. Finally, fire employees who do not adhere to your values of diversity, inclusion and equality. What you tolerate becomes what is accepted and expected.
Related: How to overcome workplace inequality and achieve gender parity
4. Building your technological infrastructure
I love Seth Godin’s recent blog post on how to change the time horizon of technology. “Ten years ago, if you were as good at using networks and software as you are today, most of your peers would have considered you something of a wizard. The question is not whether or not each of us will improve in the use of our tools, the only problem is: how soon? “
There is no doubt that the future is based on technology and the vast majority of companies and governments are not prepared for what is to come. You’ll have to make trade-offs, like investing in your business infrastructure rather than growth. But what good is growth if it is not sustainable and if you are not agile enough to change when the next crisis or disruption hits?
There is no better time than the present to invest in your technology infrastructure. Sit down with your leadership team and plan the scenario. What technology do we know we need now? What could we need in the future? How do we build an agile system that can change as we change? Then create the roadmap. Without a roadmap, it won’t be easy to get where you want to go. Describe your priorities, investments, and talent requirements. Then create simple use cases for your top priorities or ripe fruit.
5. Adopt the mindset of an experimenter
There is no doubt that more disruption is coming; It’s the new norm. What you did yesterday probably won’t work tomorrow. Yes, it can change so quickly, just as we experienced it in March 2020. To be prepared for the future, you must be willing to try new things, to experiment.
At our company, we are experimenting in every facet of our organization: product development, customer success, digital customer experiences, and employee training and education. We have forbidden words, we are the experts, and we are teaching people how to accept the mind of the student and not fear failure. Owning a student’s mind doesn’t mean taking big risks; in fact, I encourage you to use a disciplined method of experimentation. How do we do it? We created a simple two-page case study that outlines the pros, cons, and possible outcomes. We create boundaries around our experiments, following Jim Collin’s eloquent advice, “fire bullets, then cannonballs.” We also break large initiatives into small pieces to create quick wins that delight our customers, delight our employees, and maximize our flexibility as we transform our business and develop the ability to handle what comes next.
Don’t be afraid to try new things. In fact, the more you get used to adapting, learning, growing, and turning, the better off you will be. Economic instability will be a factor for some time, and adopting the mindset of an experimenter will help you stay ahead.
Now is the time to embrace these leadership trends. There are so many opportunities to be had in this time of great disruption. Be prepared for what’s next and create an organization that changes the lives of your employees, customers, and the world.
Related: 3 Ways Businesses Can Leverage Disruption For Business Growth