If you aren’t thinking about transformation – and the uncertainty that it constantly stirs up – I suggest that you should be. 2020 is here and while long-predicted to be a watershed time for business leaders, prognosticators are now describing this bright new year as even more turbulent, chaotic, uncertain and even raucous than ever imagined. It’s time to address the impact of changing demographics, and Gen Z entering the workforce, of AI and tech driving the bus on everything from human resources (HR) to brand experience, of social disruption, remote working and contract working. In a recent EY study, 50% of CEO’s named uncertainty as the single greatest external threat to the business. Yet, according to an IBM C-Suite study, only 41 percent of organizations have the people skills and resources required to execute their business strategy.
So, how do you and your organization process on-going transformation, develop strategies for not just tolerating but embracing uncertainty, and deliver on the opportunity that change provides?
First, Jump In, the Water’s Warm!
Organizations that embrace change, rather than brace for it, actually emerge stronger and more successful. In the recent WEF article “How Businesses Can Turn Crises to Their Advantage,” companies that embrace the fact that crises are now the new normal and become stronger are the ones that built adaptive capacity to handle turbulence into their people and process strategies.
In its study “Achieving Vitality in Turbulent Times,” The Boston Consulting Group found that organizational resilience and adaptive capabilities are critical skills to thriving sustainably through turbulence. In other words, organizations must emphasize the importance of re-thinking everything from strategy to structure in the midst of changing business dynamics. Embrace re-orgs, charge teams with trying new ways of working, cozy up to flexible working and encourage cross-functional problem-solving.
Second, Build Organizational Resilience and Adaptivity
A culture that thrives on constant change requires a whole company approach to resilience. This has to happen top down and bottom up: It is essential that each member of your workforce builds the cognitive skills to self-manage their reactions to an increasing velocity of unexpected situations and demands. Practicing established skills sets will empower people to approach non-stop change with an appetite for growth and yes, risk-taking. The ability to take responsibility for oneself and one’s thinking styles is at the core of resilience training and the science is incontrovertible: resilience is learned behavior. It is based on a set of skills that can be impact business outcomes, performance, and well-being. How does this work? As humans our default reaction is that change is a potential threat. To overcome this, we need to understand our thinking styles and learn new approaches which, with practice, become habitual and we experience cognitive and behavior change laying the basis for the willingness to learn and finding the opportunity in change.
Third, Invest in Upskilling
In this non-stop transformation economy EY’s Embankment Project for Inclusive Capitalism (EPIC) has identified that intangible assets such as human capital now represent an average of over 50% of a company’s market value. This has created big expectations to deliver and enormous strain on the talent necessary to drive the transformation. Today, only 20% of employees say they have the skills they need for the future and 70% say they have not mastered today’s skills, according to Gartner’s HR Leaders 2020 Future of Work Survey.
Fourth, Focus on the Employee Experience
Leading enterprises are looking at the “total employee” and seeing well-being as an integrated part of their workforce strategy and a baseline for essential upskilling. Energy, agency and vitality are as essential competencies today.
According to Mercer, 99% of companies are taking action to prepare for the future of work, identifying skills gaps, aligning talent requirements with business objectives and supporting employee well-being and performance during disruptive change. For many companies this means addressing employee experience by breaking down the silos in HR, such as Comp and Benefits, Leadership Development, and Talent. Why? Because in this new reality of constant change, people need to be on their game at all times. A positive employee experience is essential to strong company performance, and behavioral health impacts performance not just healthcare costs.
Resilient Leadership is your key to success in 2020. The future is now and you can orchestrate a successful approach to it if you and your company plan to tackle non-stop change with confidence. Leadership that is able to rebound because you have learned the foundational cognitive and behavioral skills necessary to being open to innovation, having empathy for the people in your organization and confidence in your, and your teams’, problem solving capabilities. As leaders we have a responsibility to face the challenges that 2020 will undoubtedly present by demonstrating resilient leadership.
The views of the author of this article do not necessarily represent the views of Gradifi. We make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained here. Readers should consult their own attorneys or other tax or financial advisors to understand the tax, financial and legal consequences of any strategies mentioned in this article.