Most leaders and managers don’t know how to lead teams in a disruptive, fast-changing world. This is true even if you’re an experienced leader – or, dare I say it, especially if you’re an experienced leader. What used to work doesn’t work anymore, and you need new strategies to lead and manage effectively.
When Harvard workplace researchers Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones asked people about what makes “the best workplace on earth”, they identified the things that attract (and keep!) the best talent. They are exactly what disruptive organisations offer now to find the best people.
Here’s a quick summary of the five key differences between the typical workplaces of established and disruptive organisations:
Let’s take these in turn:
- Fit vs Diversity: It’s still important to find people who fit with the rest of the team (especially when it comes to shared values), but it’s just as important to bring diverse thinking to the team by attracting people who aren’t a perfect fit.
- Information vs Authority: Everybody has more information than ever before, but people also need authority to act on that information (and even on misinformation or partial information).
- Training vs Talent: It’s still important for the organisation to provide training and ongoing development, but it’s just as important for the organisation to learn from talented individuals – regardless of their role, experience, or seniority.
- Money vs Meaning: People expect to be paid – and paid well – for their expertise, but money alone is not enough. The best people also want work with meaning, in a place where they feel proud to work.
- Policy vs Judgement: Official policies can never keep up with a fast-changing, complex world. Instead, the best organisations build the judgement of their team members, and then allow them to exercise that judgement rather than relying on policies.
These are profound shifts in thinking, especially for experienced leaders who have always done things the old way. You might think you don’t need to think this way, but that’s a dangerous mindset for long-term success. If you don’t make this change, your best people might stay for a while, hoping to be attracted and inspired, but they eventually get pulled by a stronger magnet and leave.
How does your workplace stack up?
When I work with leadership teams in this area, one of the first things we do is conduct a quick survey to see how their current workplace stacks up with “the best workplace on earth”.
If you would like to try this yourself, here’s a cut-down version of the survey.
Read each of these 15 statements below and select those that are true for your workplace. Be honest, and be tough on yourself. If it’s not a strong “Yes”, treat it as a “No”.
- We proactively embrace and encourage diversity.
- We operate flexible teams (flexible work hours, working from home, freelancing, global teams, etc.).
- We help people build their personal brand.
- When we delegate work, we also delegate authority.
- We transparently share information with our people, even “above their pay grade”.
- We identify emerging leaders and fast-track their leadership.
- We encourage reverse mentoring.
- We offer other on-the-job learning (e.g. shadowing, job swaps).
- Our new recruits often come through referrals from employees.
- We’re clear about how we’re changing the world.
- People say they are proud to work here.
- People think their day-to-day work is meaningful.
- People know which rules they can break (and they do).
- We teach decision-making and good judgement.
- We encourage people to make judgement calls, and support them when they do.
How did you do?
If you’re going to be tough on yourself, I reckon 12 out of 15 is a pass, and everything else is a fail.
There’s no shame if you scored low – as long as you don’t stay this way!
If you want my help in doing something about this, please get in touch. I would love to help.
The Best Workplace on Earth – Find Out More
The best people have a choice of places to work. Why will they choose you?