The majority of employees now use digital technologies and devices to work, therefore new skills are required to cope with the digital age. Nevertheless, not only the way of working has changed because of technology but also the nature of the work itself has been dramatically changed since people is carrying out thinking-intensive and non-routine work which outcomes heavily rely on social interaction and creativity. Moreover, in a VUCA world companies’ strategies are no longer carved in stone since they must adapt to global dynamic marketplaces and stock markets, hence vertical alignment is no longer a competitive advantage but essential to survive. Furthermore, matrixial structures as well as headcount offshoring and outsourcing have created organizational complexity which requires lots of interactions and coordination to ensure cross-functional alignment. Therefore, people must assume a completely different role which is far beyond only learning how to use the new technology. What is more, flexibility and collaboration are essential to ensure both vertical and cross-functional alignments and although connectivity is necessary to achieve organizational integration it is not enough by itself without agile mindset as well as timely and effective communications between levels and across functional areas. So how organizations and leaders can transform the workplace?

From “Job Descriptions” to “People Profiles”

To begin with, companies and leaders need to completely change the perspective about people’s role in the organization. Neither it is a semantic change where instead of calling people “employees” companies start referring to them as “associates”, nor it is part of an empowering process to increase delegation and ownership for results. The workplace transformation starts by changing the perception about how the people add value to the organization which will lead the HR department to move from “job descriptions” to “people profiles”. Since organizations no longer need people to execute repetitive “to do” lists but instead they require creative thinkers that can effectively interact with technology and other people within and outside the organization including customers and business partners, people profiles are more important than descriptions of the work that they will be performing. For this new paradigm, what people have done in the past and how efficiently they have performed is relevant, but even more crucial is the potential each person brings for the workplace and its future taking into consideration not only creative thinking and quick learning but also effective communications.

Leaders and Teams with Agile Mindset

Although it is important to consider flexibility in terms of working location and time schedule, both organizations and leaders will be missing the point if they reduce flexibility only to have people working outside the office and manage adjustable working hours during the day to cope with different global time zones. First and foremost, flexibility starts with onboarding and “ram-up” processes which encompse how fast the organization captures talent from the market, performs the cultural fit and trains new hires to fully assimilate them into their workforce. Secondly, leaders must ensure not only an agile daily work plan with frequent performance reviews, but also workload balance among the team members. Moreover, to achieve workload balance talent must be developed to level up skills and capabilities within and between cross-functional teams. Furthermore, rewards and recognitions must be based not only on results’ impact for customers and the organization but also on the contribution for “the team” with an E2E approach which ensure both sustainability of results in the long-term as well as development and reinforcement of agile mindset.

Timely and Effective Communications

The third key element to transform the workplace will not only further increase flexibility but also enhance collaboration within and between teams as well as with customers and business partners. On one hand, connectivity is essential to integrate local, regional and global organizational levels but without timely and effective communications the vertical alignment through which changes in the strategy are successfully deployed either in the shop floor and at the office won’t be ensured. On the other, communications are of fundamental importance to achieve timely and effective collaboration to guarantee cross-functional alignment. What is more, complex matrixial organizations with headcount offshored in global business services as well as outsourced within business partners will rely even more on timely and effective communications to make sure that the target operating model is not only “in place” but correctly “in use” delivering expected business outcomes. As a conclusion, organizations and leaders have three key elements to transform the workplace to effectively create value for customers (NPS), employees (EPS) and shareholders (Productivity).

Thanks for Reading.

Marcelo Sauro is an internationally experienced performance and improvement senior manager. He holds an Executive MBA and Master of Science degrees and has helped people and organizations to transform themselves. Not only he led E2E transformations in Global Business Services, R&D, Supply Chain and Finance organizations at all levels within the LATAM and EMEA Regions, but he is also experienced in several industries including Life Science, Healthcare, Insurance, Fintech, Technology, Telecoms, FMCG, Chemicals, Automotive, Energy and Mining. Since 2015, he has been researching and developing content in agile and resilience through Value Ways, while working under contract for customers such as MetLife, Novartis, Vertiv (Emerson NP) and Experian among others. Previously, he worked for more than 7 years as Master Black Belt for a LATAM-based consulting group, which had ASQ, Qualtec and Oriel as business partners. Prior to that, he worked for more than 10 years at BASF and GSK in positions of growing responsibility in the area of Operational Excellence. Marcelo is currently working at Ferring's “International PharmaScience Center” (IPC) for the Global R&D organization in Copenhagen. To find out more please visit www.value-ways.com.

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