The future of work has been showing signs of itself for some time now - increased remote work, a focus on the gig economy, org charts that look flatter than ever, and a need to adapt to a rapid pace of change. Digital disruption is no longer an oncoming phenomenon. It's here.
Digitally maturing companies are changing how they learn and lead their people in an era of digital transformation. These organizations set their focus on fostering an adaptable, agile and engaged workforce through:
- Coaching for growth
- Supporting ongoing skill development
- Embracing new technologies early
- Creating an environment that enables continuous learning
- "Flattening" levels of authority
That fifth concept is of particular interest. As explained in the MIT Sloan Management Review Deloitte 2018 Study Coming of Age Digitally, "individual leadership needs to be pervasive across the organization" if legacy companies are to be better positioned to succeed in a digital environment.
Why is it that removing the number of stages between an individual contributor and the C-suite helps organizations create the adaptable, agile and engaged workforce they so desire? Why is a "leadership and learning" management model better suited to the modern world of work than a traditional "command-and-control" leadership style?
Removing barriers to productivity
The idea of pushing decision-making further down in the organization is one of efficiency. Traditional organizations are inundated with reporting cycles and approval processes. According to a Boston Consulting Group study, "managers spend 40 percent of their time writing reports and 30 percent to 60 percent of it in coordination meetings." That's a lot of time spent approving that could be better invested in strategizing or executing.
Digitally mature organizations discard this "command-and-control" management style, which frees people from these cumbersome processes, freeing up time for more productive endeavors.
Fostering freedom and creativity to achieve goals
When organizations push decision-making downward to the individual contributor level, they are sending a message - a message of trust and confidence in their people. With time freed up and confidence instilled, employees are given the space to get creative, solve problems and deliver value to the organization.
This is not a case of employees going wild, working on whatever they want. In these forward-thinking organizations, top-level goals are communicated clearly and frequently, and employee goals are built based on those organizational priorities. The freedom and creativity come into play when it comes to how employees deliver results that move the needle on those organizational objectives.
Organizations that adopt goal management best practices perform better overall because their employees understand expectations and priorities, work on the right projects, are aligned in helping to achieve organizational goals and are more engaged as a result. The outcome? An agile workforce that can swiftly respond to both internal and external changes.
Trust breeds engagement
We often talk about employee engagement as the sum of employee contribution and employee satisfaction. Well, this "leadership and learning" management style is tailor-made for fostering employee engagement.
When employees are clear about how their contributions move the needle on organizational priorities, they're able to find satisfaction in what they do. They know it's making a real difference. And being able to contribute in ways that they creatively devise themselves? Even more satisfying. Empowering people with the autonomy and ability to achieve their goals, their way is a surefire recipe for an engaged workforce. And, as we know, engaged employees not only stay with organizations longer, but are also more productive overall.
On the flipside, this modern form of leadership effectively sidesteps common employee engagement pitfalls. Getting bogged down with processes and having your creativity stymied can be engagement killers. Second-guessing employee decisions at every turn (or even just employees feeling like they're being second-guessed) can hugely diminish a positive employee experience. But by pushing decision-making downward in the organization, annoying friction is removed and engagement detractors are nullified.
Prepare your workforce for digital transformation
Whether your organization is ready or not, digital transformation is here. To succeed in a rapidly changing market, organizations must adapt their talent management practices to reflect new digital innovations and processes.
Download the "Preparing Your Workforce for Digital Transformation" eBook today to gain insights into:
- Determining your organization's level of digital transformation preparedness
- Coaching strategies to prep your workforce for digital transformation
- How to champion a culture of learning to enable ongoing employee skill development