Economy & Politics

Question the old system

Gentle or hard: A manager’s leadership style is decisive for the working atmospherePixabay

Maria Meiler founded the Virtual Academy. Previously she worked for BCG and Google, among others. Personal-Financial.com has chosen it among Germany’s top 40 under 40.


Everyone speaks of New Normal, but what do we mean by that? As soon as management teams delve into the complex process of dealing with COVID-19 events, one truth is very clear: we cannot afford to revert to the old way of doing business. At its core, behind the processes along the value chain, this includes the aspects of working methods and management culture.

“Any collaboration is difficult as long as people are indifferent to the happiness of those around them,” the Dalai Lama postulated. In times of industrialization we had to recognize that the aspect of being together can be in stark contrast to the reality of life in companies and their productivity goals. We have stopped this socially, as a result of workers’ revolts, and a new social order pioneered the 20th century.

Today we are experiencing a time of “silent revolt”. This is expressed differently, because the dependency between labor supply and demand is often to the disadvantage of companies. Many have recognized that the key to prosperity and a secure market position is constant, sometimes radical innovation of products and business. This requires new skills that bring a new generation of employees with them. Self-fulfillment, freedom of design, and sustainability are aspects that these people use as clear decision criteria for or against a job. According to Gallup, for example, 53% of employees viewed a better work-life balance and personal well-being as a “very important” criterion when choosing a career.

Often a discrepancy seems to open here, which on the one hand raises the company’s goal of productivity, on the other hand the costly investment in modern manpower. This observation disregards the fact that a bridge can be built: Gallup found a whopping 21% productivity advantages in a prominent, large-scale study of companies that create high employee loyalty. Most of the discussions and decisions are made superficially and there is the kicker, the fruit bowl and the meditation room. But the real question of what the needs of these valuable resources, the employees are, is rarely questioned: when do people feel bound to their employer?

In order to give the whole thing practicality, we have broken down the concept of employee retention into five core areas, which also offer a sensible basis for consideration when working in dispersed teams, virtually and at a distance: belonging, individual contribution, transparency, autonomy, health.

So what does a company have to do to successfully address these areas? As so often, the answer is: the right leadership is required. I would like to highlight four aspects.

Define vision and purpose boldly and make them “tangible”

“If you have no vision, you have no reality,” writes German-Russian thinker Leon R. Tsvasman. Indeed: from my day-to-day work at Google, I can report what an advantageous effect a noble, value-laden vision has on employees. A common understanding of goal and purpose creates trust (as long as I believe in it and identify myself as an employee). The translation into the everyday work routine of each individual is the second, no less important task for the management team. This also includes what is specifically measured and rewarded. This approach pays for membership and individual contribution, creates transparency and thus promotes employee autonomy.

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