The future of work will require us all to pivot
The future of work series is based on the insights from my quantitative and qualitative research with ideas to think about your organization and a toolkit to take action on as a leader. This theme focuses on how to pivot forward positively in the future of work.
COVID-19 has been one big reset button. For those that had a plan for this year or next, that has likely significantly changed. Those that I interviewed that had consciously decided to choose to pivot instead of react and hope for the “return to normal” shared amazing results.
Carol Rountree, Chief Volunteer Officer at Cincinnati Cares, shared how her organization pivoted quickly in response to the pandemic. They gathered as a team and revamped their entire website to support local nonprofits with current information on how to volunteer, support, and help organizations given social distancing. They saw an intense response from volunteers and partners with increased web traffic, enabling their staff to stay engaged and productive instead of idle during a potentially disruptive time.
The Des Moines Civil & Human Rights Commission launched the Breaking Bread Building Bridges initiative to see what happens when people take the time to converse with one another despite their differences. Their Breaking Bread video illustrates an alternative way to spread their message during times instead of live events as they had done before the pandemic.
As community builder, podcast host, board member and advocate Justin Bogers shares, “We are working to broaden our reach beyond those that are allies already. By switching to virtual networking and video programs, we have the ability to reach others that may not have felt comfortable coming to live events.”
The choice to pivot can lead to unexpected gains that would not have been possible before. The silver linings are there when you are ready to see them.
With a reset, comes a shuffle of priorities. That is change. Change can be hard for people.
Former Disney Executive Lee Cockerell said, “I have seen a number of tough times in my career. This requires leaders to make hard decisions about the future. They need to place their bets on new trends and let go of past assumptions. No one knows what will happen. Staying stagnant is not a strategy.”
Envisioning the future and repriortiizing can be super engaging when you get your team involved. Facilitating an exercise about future trends, ideas, and priorities can bring significant innovation much more quickly than previously.
The top two priorities leaders shared with me in my research were: cash flow and employee motivation. Once people know they can keep the metaphorical lights on and paychecks will continue, keeping employees happy and motivated is next. That is hard when we cannot always see their faces to know how they feel about work and life.
HR leader Shannon Schilling illustrates this nicely. “We’ve experienced trauma together, which increases our openness to consider doing things differently. Without this trauma, it takes longer for change. We have a new work environment – define work as the things we do not the places we go. Leading virtually is very different – be more intentional on check in, super curious about needs of employees, and connect with others on the team. We do temperature check-ins with our teams, ‘breath it out’ exercises and ‘write it out’ activities to get frustrations out together. We also have a ‘laugh it out’ exercise we do to share funny stories and humanize people’s experiences.”
Getting people reengaged in what will likely be a long-term virtual work environment is important. Without knowing how your employees feel, it is hard to motivate them. It is not a one size fits all approach. Gone are the days of free pizza and team outings to boost morale. Leaders have to individualize the experience and be more intentional about it.
Toolkit to take action
Let this be an opportunity to pivot forward as a leader. Get your team together virtually or live and be curious to learn from them. Discuss how we use this as an opportunity to pivot forward positively by asking:
- RESET: What does success look like for our team this year?
- REPRIORITIZE: What are the key priorities and goals for the rest of 2020?
- REMOTIVATE: How can we get excited about work again?
The future of work will not be the same. There is no return to normal. The future of work requires us to pivot.
This great pause is an opportunity to lead your team to success. How are you going to take advantage of this opportunity?
If you liked this article, good news. I created a future of work blog series and video series on the future of work. You can find time to connect with me 1:1 to discuss ideas here.
We need our allies more than ever. We will get through this together. Because we are stronger together.
Message me with your thoughts at Julie@NextPivotPoint.com. I personally respond to every email I receive.