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💡 The Big Idea
Workplaces have gone through enormous change in the last decade, and year. It’s time the management handbook got an update as well.
Here’s the TLDR to leading through change.
1️⃣ Workplaces were evolving long before the pandemic.
2️⃣ This moment has required a particularly thoughtful approach to leadership.
3️⃣ Some management strategies have proved timeless.
4️⃣ While some conventional wisdom could be chucked.
5️⃣ Decisive action on inclusion and diversity should be at the top of any manager’s list.
📝 The Details
Working remotely, working asynchronously, integrating work and home life, spending more time thinking about crucial aspects of work that aren’t usually in the job description, like mental health and inclusivity and company culture—all of these things started happening years ago. And all of them, whether we noticed or not, have had implications for those of us who manage people.
Now, not noticing is not an option. And just noticing isn’t enough. The past decade has brought enormous changes to our workplaces, gradually at first and then all at once. It would be short-sighted and counter-productive not to change our management thinking or tactics in light of this.
None of us has managed a team through a global pandemic before. Understanding what this crisis demands of leadership is very much a work in progress.
How vulnerable should you be with the people you manage? How can you show appreciation to employees who somehow keep the trains running? How do you possibly measure success when performance has been this disrupted? Practitioners are sharing emerging wisdom on these and other questions that managers around the world have been grappling with since the first rounds of lockdowns began.
The coronavirus crisis has been an opportunity to test the effectiveness of classic management strategies. In the midst of turmoil and heightened stress, which practices hold up? And which approaches are likely to endure even as the workplace continues to evolve? Successful leaders consistently navigate stress and change with empathy, and a clear-headedness that allows them to communicate priorities easily and confidently to staff. They also are open to dismantling the bureaucracy built up at their workplaces—restoring efficiency and creativity in everything from how decisions get made, to how employees are held accountable.
A new generation of workers is questioning the norms and conventional wisdom governing the workplace. Managers can either ignore the critiques or see them as an opportunity to evolve.
Instead of railing against what’s being demanded by employees, managers can reframe change as an opportunity to grow and become even better, more thoughtful leaders. Exploring and understanding what’s being asked can help managers craft evidence-based approaches as opposed to relying on their gut reactions.
Most diversity and inclusion practices suffer from being copy-and-paste exercises, often set off to the side of a company’s practices and too quick, easy, and superficial to be effective. That became apparent during the conversation that followed the Black Lives Matter protests that rocked the United States earlier this year.
Many of the practices that have been recommended ask companies to be more than just well-meaning, and to try something different to do better, from revamping the hiring process, to infusing inclusive practices into everything you do.