As we are entering a new era of business, Founders and Leaders are facing exciting new challenges whose outcome will have a significant impact on the life of their companies. One of those challenges is helping their top talent thrive: professionals are increasingly seeking out companies that allow them to tap into their full potential and stay engaged and motivated as they work towards a purpose they believe in. So, how do companies meet those needs? And how can startups stay on top of the game?
Our Founder, CEO, and Future of Work Expert, Therese Gedda, answers 5 urgent questions to help Leaders master the workplace revolution that will give work a new meaning.
1. Why are some companies so disconnected from the expectations and needs of high-performing talent?
The key question here is: Are companies committed to building people and purpose-centric cultures? When we talk about a people and purpose-centric culture, we are referring to the model where people come first, customers second, and profit third. But this does not mean that people and purpose-centric cultures are giving up on profit. What happens when you have a strong vision of making a positive difference in the world is that people who believe in what you believe in will be attracted to your company because they will be empowered to thrive. That type of engagement with the company will impact their ability to deliver exceptional customer service and also make it easier for them to co-create with the market. In return, this will make customers passionate and loyal, which builds a sustainable and profitable business in the long run.
However, it is important to point out that championing a people and purpose-centric culture does not mean supporting people as they “cruise” through their jobs: in fact, it is a matter of building a High-Achieving culture that celebrates High Achievers who are deeply committed to carrying out the vision of the company. Although it is not a new one, the people and purpose-centric model has not been widely adopted yet. So, if you take into consideration the strong engagement it can drive in high-performing individuals, and the type of loyal, long-lasting customer relationships it has the potential to nurture. In that case, it is easy to see why it gives companies such a significant competitive advantage in the market.
2. How can startups and fast-growing companies stay on top of this workplace revolution?
This is very much connected to the people and purpose-centric approach we just mentioned. With Reimaginez, we often see that startups and scaleups are more open to embracing the hybrid model than traditional, more established companies. One of the reasons for that phenomenon is that these types of companies are used to the concept of global talent. In fact, a lot of them already had remote team members even before the pandemic. The way we see it is that it is more about the culture of the company than its size. It is a matter of whether they are engaging with the “carrots and sticks,” more traditional management styles, or they have invested in their culture, so the majority of their people are so committed and dedicated, to the point where micromanaging actually diminishes their potential.
Micromanagement was originally invented for factories, and it worked really well… In factories. In the year 2021, with knowledge industries taking over the economy, micromanagement doesn’t apply well anymore. This shows in the fact that only 20% of employees globally are engaged in the workplace, according to a recent report. When companies do their people and purpose-centric culture right, they naturally attract high-performing individuals who are empowered by autonomy and flexibility. So, in short, it is not necessarily about the size of the company, but what kind of philosophy they are committing to.
3. Is there a process companies should follow to transition towards a hybrid model?
The first thing companies can do to transition towards a more remote format is to intentionally design and codify their culture. A large portion of being part of this workplace revolution has to do with awareness: leaders need to look at the foundational structures of their cultures and start asking questions like:
- What does success look like?
- What goals are we looking to achieve?
- Why are we looking to achieve these goals?
- How are we going to achieve these goals?
- How are we going to collaborate to achieve our goals?
What we need to recognize here is that the concept of remote work is not as new as it might feel. In 2019, a study showed that 57 million Americans were already freelancing. So, there are a lot of situations where we are not necessarily present when the work is being done. And that is exactly the case when it comes to knowledge workers.
However, if you do not have your processes in place, you are likely to experience a mismatch in your culture. What this means is that your High Achievers will take more responsibility and work even harder, while the people who are only acting upon orders and micromanagement will see the perfect opportunity to cruise even more. But the good news is that culture is your silver bullet when it comes to mastering team management —among other key issues—, and your company culture can be designed to intentionally attract top talent who will thrive thanks to the ability to work from anywhere and peak their performance.
Another important highlight here is the question of time, and the way we see it is: an hour is not just an hour. In the same hour, one person could be doing anything from closing a million-dollar deal to drinking coffee and looking out the window. So we need to revisit the relationship between time and performance because there is some correlation, but not to the extent we are used to believing. And the way to nail performance and productivity every time, once again, is through intentionally designing a culture that only attracts high-performing individuals.
4. Many Leaders only have experience managing teams in person. How can they adapt to this new transformation and help their remote teams to thrive?
The way we see it, this depends more on the manager’s leadership philosophy than on their work experience. If you see your employees as cogs in a machine, and you believe the only way of getting output from them is by sitting them in a specific place, watching over them as they perform their tasks, then reviewing their work, and giving them a new task. In that case, then it is going to be very hard for you to embrace the concept of remote work.
But the thing is, this management model is not a model built for the future or even for the world of today. Actually, very few people thrive on the “carrots and sticks” model. On the other hand, if you are looking to lead on potential, then the question of where your employees are physically located is not that important. When you lead on potential, you see the quality of the work in the results, in the performance, in how employees interact with fellow team members, in how they are showing up on the screen, in how they are writing their emails, you see it everywhere. But this is a very different leadership style from the more traditional ones.
So, in short, on the leader’s side, it is more a matter of whether they are committed to thriving themselves, if they are life-long learners, if they embrace exploring and adopting new things. And on the company’s side, the organization also needs to allow for employees to work from anywhere. And one way to allow it is through a people and purpose-centric culture and by leading on potential.
5. Companies and talents around the world went through a sudden shift to hybrid or remote models. For many of them, this new approach also allowed them to develop a new outlook on life and work. What do you think Leaders can learn from this experience about reimagining the workplace?
For most roles, the importance is in the engagement quality and the impact of the why, what, and how you are delivering, rather than the specific hours when someone did the work. And if we are aiming for peak performance, the more you allow employees to live in line with their internal body clocks (also referred to as circadian rhythms), the higher well-being they will have, which will significantly impact their general performance and productivity levels.
For example, having a night person —an owl— work during the morning hours is a sure way of diminishing their performance instead of making the most of their actual peak hours. So, rather than looking at the traditional 9-to-5 model or the specific location, it is a matter of assessing commitment and engagement, regardless of where team members are at. It is about looking at the quality of their work, the impact they are having, and how they are embodying the values of the company on a day-to-day basis.
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We have worked with 1000+ founders and CEOs, and we have experienced first-hand how culture has an impact on everything, from interactions between team members to talent attraction and retention; from customer relationships and profitability to the speed of innovation and your ability to propel revolutionary initiatives that will wow your Dream Persona and leave a print in the history of your industry.
We have built proprietary frameworks proven to deliver transformative change in fast-growing companies. Below is a selection of our custom-designed projects on culture, leadership, and growth that can span from two weeks to a year depending on goals and needs:
Codifying Culture is designed to create a strong cultural foundation to be used for effective leadership initiatives, recruitment, and accountability.
Recruiting on Cultural Fit is a scalable and methodical recruitment model focused on mindset, cultural and value alignment.
Scaling a High Achiever Culture is designed to keep the best people, your High Achievers, performing and thriving.
Strategic Direction and Growth is often delivered as an off-site, followed by an executive coaching program for your management team.
Bespoke Programs are fully customized initiatives that span extensive cultural transformations as well as targeted projects covering culture, leadership, commercialization, recruitment, training, and growth.