Shaara Roman

5 Things You Need to Do to Prepare for the Perfect Storm

I recently spoke to business leaders in Northern Virginia about the perfect storm – no, not the one swirling in the various houses of government – but one that will affect every industry and inevitably change the workplace. It’s the confluence of Gen-Zers, technology and giggers. 

First, we have a new generation entering the workforce, which historically has fundamentally changed our relationship with work. The latest, the Gen Z’s, are shaking things up even further and have proven to be a powerful voice as a collective.  Secondly, artificial intelligence is already changing how our work gets done. As technology improves and expands, it will continue to transform our business processes and job descriptions. In fact, over the next 3 years, 85% of jobs will be transformed, according to Digital News Asia. Lastly, the emerging gig economy has empowered anyone to be their own boss. By 2020, the gig workforce is expected to comprise 43 percent of our workforce. 

This means more teams will consist of a client and consultants rather than a boss and employees. 

With all of these contributing factors in mind, what can you do to navigate the storm?

1. Build an intentional culture.

I say it all the time: You have to be intentional with your culture. Why? Because even if you aren’t, you will still have a culture. It just may not be what you want. 

Your culture should come to life by the experiences and behaviors you foster.

This does not mean out-of-office perks like gym memberships and happy hours, rather the experiences your employees have in the office, whether with leadership, colleagues, or clients. We all know that culture is about the WAY things get done. These experience impact how employees feel about their jobs and workplace, therefore dictating their behaviors and creating a workplace culture. 

As you design your workforce experience, ensure you are considering all options – from the different generations to giggers to how work will be done. Create and foster purpose within your team, so everyone feels valued and heard.

2. Transform leadership.

Leadership – real leadership – will be key to navigating the future. As a leader you are a coach, supporter, and cheerleader. Do people engage with you because they have to or because they want to? This is key to knowing whether your leadership style is fostering collaboration or mistrust. 

In my interview with author Bob Rosen, he says today’s leaders must be grounded and conscious, meaning having a foundation of knowing who you are individually as a human being, as well as possessing self-awareness and awareness of how you affect others. 

Leaders should be the removers of boundaries, demanding innovation from everyone in an organization, rather than the roadblocks to new ideas or smaller voices.

3. Create a more modern organizational structure.

We have to rethink how we are structured. Do you have unnecessary hierarchy? Does your structure reflect the work you actually need done? Our current model of management is arcane and does not reflect how we are in today’s world. It is a win-lose mentality, rather than a win-win mindset. To determine what the new normal should look like in your organization, you must challenge your thinking. Ultimately your structure should foster collaboration and alignment.

To truly lead in a global, connected, and distributed world you need to enable open communication and independent growth.

This means having clear expectations, managing by outcomes, and having regular check-ins with future-focused insights.

Today’s younger employees do not need managers to tell them what to do. They can Google the answers. They need mentors who ask them to think bigger, share ideas, and who care about their feelings and career paths. Giggers are seeking partners. If a team or a client is not working for them, they will be quick to look for reliable business partners elsewhere. 

4. Future proof your jobs. 

In the future, our jobs will be different. We will not just search and replace exiting employees, but really think about what we need to get that job done. It will be necessary to redefine job roles from junior level employees to leadership, and compensation and pay structure will need to align.

As AI continues to impact work, you will need to assess whether it is improving your business processes or simply replacing the workforce. Interpersonal skills will be necessary for employees to truly thrive, and the “soft” skills – being grounded and conscious as Bob put it – are key for everyone. Millennial and Gen-Z employees need your support and investment to build those skills.

The future is all about possibility, but we need to ensure we are appropriately prepared for the inevitable changes.

5. Facilitate creative career paths. 

Everyone wants to grow, but growth will look different. It is critical to focus on potential and harness the entrepreneurial spirit of the younger generations. Ensure you reflect that in your career paths and that you are thinking about career paths when hiring.

Think creatively about how you can give people new experiences and challenges and align your internal mobility with business goals.

Whether you are in an association, government agency, startup, or multi-national corporation, you need to grow and evolve to serve your members, employees, or clients. And you need to leverage your workforce to find creative ways to do that 

For centuries we have known that the only thing that is constant is change. The only way to move forward is to embrace it.