3 Solutions and Strategies for Today’s Workplace

February 27, 2012 by  Filed under: Management 

There are typically two challenges within an organization.

The first is structure- many organizations may have outgrown their original structure- the structure no longer supports the direction. An example of this a consulting client of mine in the agricultural industry- they have been around for decades and their focus has been on rewarding long term tenure. That focus has served them well up until now, however as demographics shift and younger technologically savvy people make their way through the company the structure of rewarding long term tenure is not supporting attracting and retaining upcoming talent.

The reality of today’s workplace is that most people no longer look at their employer as the life long employer. Today’s younger demographic are looking for experience, growth and fast progress. If you say to a Gen X or Y that they will get what they want in ten years they lose interest and begin looking elsewhere.

The second challenge is communication. This one is a huge issue on its own but typically the challenges do not stand-alone. Organizations may have blogs, intranets and weekly meetings BUT still find that people are not in the loop and communication breakdown is eroding trust and productivity.

So what are the solutions and strategies for today’s workplace?

#1- Assess the structure – whether you are a CEO a senior leader or front line manager you have the power to assess the structure. Many large organizations operate with silos- each department doing its own thing. It is okay to have departmental approaches but they must be aligned with overall vision and strategy. The structure is developed from vision and strategy. Often it requires bringing in someone from the outside to facilitate a structure review. There are just too many leaders who are too close to the structure to see where it is limiting progress. Also, many leaders have a vested interest in keeping the status quo.

A great example of the structure assessment process is a consulting client in the transportation and logistics industry. They are aware that their structure for attracting and retaining talent is not in tune with the current mindset of today’s employee market. We are working on a tweaked structure that provides benefits options, alternative schedules, and performance rewards rather than tenure rewards.

#2- Take a communication pulse – are you finding that people are always asking about what is going on? Do you send out emails, posts to the Intranet and have meetings but there are still people who are missing the messages?

If so this is a common challenge in today’s hyper fast, email filled and technological workplace. The reality is that we need to create a workplace that encourages accountability for everyone to be in the loop. Recently I joined a paid mastermind group. I pay high dollars to be part of this esteemed group of consultants. The leader of the mastermind heads up the forum up and has made it abundantly clear to all of us that we are individually responsible for logging in to the forum daily. If we don’t do it we are not hand held – we simply miss out on the resources and gems that are shared daily. Even though it is one more thing to do every day it is of such high value and is so relevant to my business that I make a point of logging in daily.

If the leadership does not communicate accountability and expectations to their team on a regular basis then people simply ignore the responsibility. Recently I was working with a CEO who was bragging about his blogging. He felt he was ahead of the curve because he has been blogging for a few years. When I asked him how his blog has improved communication he could not give me an answer.

Typically a well-done CEO blog creates openness where people approach their leaders and the CEO with ideas and the tone for the company is innovation and transparency. If this is not happening then the blog may be too corporate and bland and just more ‘noise’ for employees to read. The best CEO blogs I have seen include video clips, personal stories that can be turned into analogies in the workplace and a look into the reading and watching habits of the CEO.

Again, it is of high value to bring in an outside expert to facilitate ideas and strategies on how to improve communication within the company. The expert can bring fresh perspective and help the leadership team focus on solutions and strategies.

#3- Technology training – one of the biggest opportunities I see for today’s workplace is to bring the whole group together to even the playing field when it comes to technological know how. Research has shown that the average worker is only using a fraction of the technology available to make them more productive.

Rather than blame and complain about those who are reluctant or slower at integrating technology into their work habits we need to be taking the time to bring them up to speed. I have found that typically those who resist integrating technology have become quite comfortable with doing things the way they have always done them. However when someone who is technologically adept takes the time to sit down and walk through the technology and shows how it can speed up and simplify work the reluctant user becomes the converted.

This is a big one for traditional organizations – the faster they can equalize technical knowledge in the workplace the faster they can increase productivity, minimize stress and innovate.

This can be set up by setting up technology training schedules both in person and through video. The average person today when they don’t know how to do something will go to Google and You Tube.

There is no question that workplace leaders who review their structure, improve their communications and focus on technological training will thrive in today’s workplace. More than that they will prosper and still be here in the year 2020 and beyond.

Cheryl is the President of the leadership consulting firm Synthesis at Work Inc. She provides practical tools and creative strategies for leaders to take their current level of success and integrate leadership with technology to increase innovation. The companies that Cheryl works with are top performing organizations with a strong focus on becoming a workplace that attracts and retains top talent and leads with innovation.

For more details http://www.cherylcran.com/

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