Today’s Tuesday Tip from the TomorrowToday team comes from my colleague, Buhle Dlamini (who is currently in South Africa and available for local bookings).

I am basking in the glow of being back in South Africa, after being locked out for the last couple of years, and loving every minute – even the many candlelight dinners our family gets to experience with the current level of load-shedding!

I had an opportunity to meet with some of our clients last week as we discussed the Future of People in a more global, digital, and diverse workplace.

One of the key challenges that leaders in people management are battling with is finding a balance between the demands of the executive class (Boards and the C-suite) and the expectations of the employees on the ground.

By now it is very clear that most executives and managers are demanding a full
back-to-the-office culture, complete with watercoolers and bean bags. But most employees are fully expecting their organisations to find a new middle ground between how they had to work and how they used to work.

These expectations vary from group to group in a diverse pool of workers. Some women have found the flexibility of working on their preferred schedule most effective, while some women crave the dependability of fixed work schedules and time away from family responsibility for better focus.

While some employees of colour, in some environments, have found that remote work means not having to deal with daily micro-aggressions, others are equally craving the face-to-face connection with other team members. This means that we cannot jump to conclusions about what different groups want from the new world of work as it continues to evolve around us.

One thing is clear though, leaders and employees alike are looking for more clarity and need a sense of an organizational culture that is more engaging and relevant to the context we find ourselves in.

So how do we reimagine organisational culture and the future of people in this evolving context?

1. Clarify The Fundamentals and Be Flexible on Approach

We need to clarify and become more explicit about what is fundamental to our culture and success, while building flexibility on how we achieve our desired results.

This might seem counter-intuitive, but it’s not really. Talking to our clients last week; some expressed the feeling that most employees are experiencing a sense of being lost and being disconnected to the dream/purpose of the organisation.

Being in a survival mode, while it helps us activate the sink or swim instinct, if left too long leads to a sense of confusion and disorientation.

Now is the time to re-establish clarity on the fundamentals: those things that don’t change and that make our organisations what they are. The Values, Mission and Purpose need to be reignited in our teams in very deliberate ways.

Leaders need to spend time communicating, modeling and championing a deeper understanding and commitment to the fundamentals by reinforcing them through communication. At the same time, leaders need to also be open to flexibility on how organisations achieve their results to remain agile and competitive.

How will you clarify your fundamentals and remain flexible with your team going forward?

2. Create Stronger Connections Regardless of Space and Time

Creating a winning culture that attracts new talent and retains top achievers requires organisations to build stronger connections between team members no matter how, where and when they work.

People management for the future means being deliberate about understanding what keeps our teams connected and investing time and energy on maintaining it.

The cultures that are successful are ones where teams feel that they have clear communication and are on the same page on what matters. Deliberately promote connection time for teams in different ways so that they don’t become stale even if they are routine.

This may require effort, but it really is important for forging a healthy culture. Connections between people help with a sense of belonging and psychological safety.

What are some of the things you can do now to create stronger connections between team members who may be working in different locations and sometimes in the same location?

3. Reward Behaviors that Align the Culture You Desire

Your culture will always gravitate towards the behaviors you reward, promote, and celebrate. Culture is whatever is accepted and normal for a subset group.

Humans are incentivized by positive feedback and when we know what gets rewarded, we will then strive to be rewarded more often until it becomes part of our behavior.

There isn’t a single right or wrong culture, but there are things that leaders must demand so far as how their teams work together that will drive business success.

The clearer team members are about what is expected and rewarded, the clearer your culture becomes.

What behaviors need rewarding in your organisation, and what will this reward look like?

If you enjoyed today’s tip from Buhle and would like to set up a coffee chat or keynote presentation for your team (Buhle is in South Africa for July and half of August but is also always available to present virtually), then please don’t hesitate to connect with me to set something up.

About the author of today’s Tuesday Tip – Buhle Dlamini

The way we think about people working together in organisations continues to change. We need to apply new ways of thinking about all aspects of people working together:  Teamwork, Organisational Culture, Belonging, Diversity, Inclusion and Equity. That’s what the future of people is about!

Buhle Dlamini brings his extensive experience in organisational culture, diversity and cultural intelligence to help you navigate the future of people in a changing world. Chat to us about booking Buhle for your upcoming conference or event.

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