July 30, 2020
by John Ryan
How we use this experience will propel our culture into 2021, because, we can’t go back. This truly is the start of a whole new normal.
Without a doubt, 2020 has been a year for the history books. Between the Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant recession, the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent protests, 2020 has shaken us out of our comfort zones, demanding that we wake up, pay attention, evolve.
We’re only halfway in, but so far, 2020 has been an emotionally complicated year. We’ve been left to grapple, mourn, and make sense of this time in our own isolation pods, until the outrage of injustice drew so many of us into the streets.
We have much more to get through, including the upcoming November election. It can feel like a lot of chaos, but it also invites plenty of possibility. How might we emerge from this and be better employees, colleagues, team members and leaders? This is a time of change, an opportunity for growth. Here’s how we might use the momentum to better ourselves and our work.
1. Redefining ourselves
As our cities have erupted in waves of protests, it gives us the chance to look inward, to ask ourselves hard questions, to reflect on our personal beliefs about equity and justice. This is the time to recognise lessons that we may have learned wrong the first time, to own those and to fix them so that we can become better people and better Americans.
Examining ourselves also means accessing our professional identity. The companies we lead and elevate with our talent should be companies that we’re proud to represent. We should believe in them; they should align with our values. We should aim to elevate corporate cultures that are compassionate and socially responsible.
Entrepreneur and business leader Mark Cuban points out that a defining characteristic of Millennials and Gen Z consumers and professionals is that they demand this of the employers and brands they support. “If you get branded as a company that acted in bad faith, laid off all your employees, or really cut back and you took a bonus or whatever, you’re going to get crushed and your brand is going to go straight into the toilet.” Cuban explains.
Use this time to redefine yourself and your brand, not because it will earn you talent and customers, but because it’s the right thing to do. This time invites a recalibration of our business ethics. Cuban further explained the paradigm he envisions: “Shareholders come last. You guys have so much impact on the world that you need to take care of your employees and their families first.” Imagine how much different the world could be if business leaders operated this way. Perhaps this is our opportunity, our “in” to create such a world.
2. Embracing flexibility
The old way of thinking suggested that employees needed to marinate in our corporate culture by being present in our corporate space to ensure that they were following its rules and absorbing its messages. What we’ve seen since our offices went remote is that if our culture is well constructed, it will travel with our employees. Remote work is a wonderful option that empowers our employees to do better work for us, which makes them true ambassadors for our culture.
Having a culture that’s flexible and incorporates remote work is a positive option for employees. It demonstrates open and evolved thinking when it comes to their employer brand. The pandemic has been a mass experiment in remote work, and many positives are being reported.
“Since mid-March, Gallup has been tracking how U.S. workers have been dealing with the disruptions to their lives and their jobs. The percentage of workers who say their employer is offering them flex time or remote work options has grown from 39% at that time to 57% in the latest polling, conducted March 30-April 2.” writes Gallup’s Megan Brenan.
Brenan adds that 41% of employees prefer to return to their offices once it’s safe to do so, while “Three in five U.S. workers who have been doing their jobs from home during the coronavirus pandemic would prefer to continue to work remotely as much as possible, once public health restrictions are lifted.”
3. Better understanding ourselves as employees
Embracing digital innovation and adapting to a remote culture has a range of benefits for staff. The quality and caliber of communication tends to be more strategic. I notice and appreciate that I distract others less just as others distract me less. I attribute this to being less confirmed to a 9-5 paradigm. I appreciate having the opportunity to maximise my peak productivity hours with blocks of concentrated work time.
I’m starting to believe that we waste time in the office with disruptive drive by communications and impromptu chats because we’re working at times that don’t suit us. We’re trying to keep ourselves engaged during our non-peak times.
I’m discovering that planning around my own motivation cycles makes me more productive and more focused. I also find I schedule fewer meetings and I have a more informed time management strategy, based on protecting my core protectivity hours.
It feels good to work this way. It feels comfortable, natural and productive. Implementing more flexibility stands to bode well for employee productivity, engagement, development and retention. “96% of employees said they need flexibility, yet only 47% reported having access to the types of flexibility they need — a gap of 54%.” write Annie Dean and Anna Auerbach in the Harvard Business Review.
If employees feel more comfortable and have more flexibility in their work, perhaps their chance of thriving is greater and we’re better able to hold onto them.
4. Creating better culture
2020 has been a deconstructive year; that’s uncomfortable but it also presents a rare opportunity. It’s our chance to recalibrate and rebuild. Who are we now as people and professionals?
How we use this experience will propel our culture into 2021, because, we can’t go back. This truly is the start of a whole new normal. What do you plan to do with the opportunity?
This article is © TRANSEARCH USA and was originally published on the TRANSEARCH USA website.
John Ryan is Global Practice Leader for Power, Renewable Energy and Cleantech and US Regional Vice President for TRANSEARCH International. With a career that began in 1989, John has worked with over 250 public and private companies. He has led numerous C-suite, Vice President and director level searches across North America for public and privately held companies. He has also worked closely with private equity firms, supporting them with critical portfolio company needs. He has also provided executive coaching and leadership assessment services. Get in touch with John Ryan »