The Post-pandemic Challenges Leaders Are Facing That You Don’t Have To
The business world is undergoing unprecedented changes. Ever since the pandemic, there’s been a major shift in the business landscape. Although we were in the age of digital transformation before, the pandemic just sped it up even more. New challenges emerged for organisations and leaders. While it was with the help of technology that people across the globe were working together, even from their homes, the lack of preparation in dealing with the emerging remote and hybrid work models became quite apparent. These shifts are responsible for some of the most significant changes that we are now facing even as we ease into a new normal.
Employees have changed mindsets as the pandemic has made them evaluate their jobs, passions and the future they truly want. For leaders, much of the last two years have been about figuring out the plan of action for managing remote teams, learning about new technologies and changing employee experiences and engagement.
We’ll discuss the new challenges that leaders have to face as the workforce undergoes a tremendous transformation. While these challenges are tough, we’ll also address how you can flip them and find a solution that can build high-performing teams despite the roadblocks we’ve faced over the past couple of years.
The Era of Digital Transformation
According to a McKinsey worldwide poll of CEOs, in a short period of a few months, the pandemic accelerated organisations’ digital transformations by three to four years but research also shows that 70% of digital transformation initiatives are a failure.
So, what are the common pitfalls of digital transformation? A lot of it boils down to the lack of adaptation in management, the resistance to change in organisational culture and unclear communication within a team. Leaders that refuse to adjust when the world around them is changing cannot keep up with the shifting mindsets of their team members. So the first step of a leader’s professional development in this era is accepting that change is the only constant and adapting to it will push you further.
Here are some ways to get you started as we shift from the chaotic period of emergency to the new normal of today:
Frame a clear strategy: Reflect on your purpose, vision and strategies as a leader. Keep the strategies that worked out well for your organisation, leave behind the ones that didn’t work and invent new ideas with high potential for success.
Do not fall back into your comfort zone: As we fall back into our usual office settings, it’s easy to drop everything you’ve learnt during the time of emergency. However, even if we are going back to our offices, your team’s passions and mindsets are not the same as they were before the pandemic. Going back to your old ways will just push back the progress you’ve made in the last two years.
Now with an adaptable mindset, here are the challenges that leaders will have to face in 2022 and the solutions they can adopt to transform the problem into a solution.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
~ Charles Darwin
Challenge 1: Employee Retention Amid The Great Resignation Wave
The results from the research of DDI’s Global Leadership Forecast series indicated that more than half of organisations are seeing an increase in turnover.
Retaining talent has been extremely challenging for organisations since the epidemic. During the time away from their busy schedules and the office environment, employees re-evaluated their positions in their company, resulting in the increased rate of job turnover today.
Why are people quitting their jobs?
Valerie Junger, a chief police officer at Quantcast, has found a common theme for departing employees — people are re-evaluating their priorities and are looking for a deeper purpose. For instance, some might be leaving their jobs to spend more time with their families while others might not be satisfied with what they are doing. Junger said, “After over a year of stress and worry, employees want their organisations to share the same values and priorities as theirs.”
The solution? Companies should start concentrating and investing time in their most valuable asset — their employees.
Solution 1: Create a sense of purpose
To retain your employees and build them for optimal performance, leaders can assist them by discovering the deeper purpose of their work.
According to a survey by McKinsey, nearly two-thirds of employees have paused to think about their life purpose in response to the pandemic and nearly half are rethinking what they are doing for a living. Survey results show that employees want their bosses to present them with more meaningful possibilities.
The purpose of your organisation is a fantastic place to start. When you have a strong purpose that positively impacts the world, it also inspires motivation and accomplishment in your team especially when they see their work helping the lives of others.
Lay out the mission and vision of your company and help your employees align their life’s purpose with the organisation’s purpose. Inspire your team to consider how pursuing the organisation’s mission can help them achieve their personal goals as well.
Solution 2: Focus on employee well-being
Leaders’ dedication to employee well-being has a significant impact on their teams. Organisations with managers that show concern for their employees’ well-being are 2.3 times more likely to avoid employee burnout and attrition.
The pandemic has especially made people focus on their mental, emotional and physical health. Leaders have to prioritise the psychological safety of the work environment for their employees to grow, develop and reach optimal performance.
Caring for their well-being can include reaching out often to check on how they are doing, recognising signs of burnout in their team and allowing time off work when needed or providing resources and help that employees can access easily.
Solution 3: Building trust
It is proven that employees are more likely to stay on in an organisation when they have a leader they feel they can trust and rely on. Trust is an extremely powerful leadership tool that can motivate, influence and inspire your team. Trust also creates confidence in you as a leader while building strong relationships.
When a leader and their team have synergy, you are more likely to create high performing teams and great results. Building trust can include sticking to your word, having empathy for your team when they’re struggling and also admitting to your own mistakes as a leader.
INSIDER INFO: Our trust building workshops build emotional intelligence in leaders to tackle challenging situations without losing the trust of their team members.
Challenge 2: Identifying Talents in a Hybrid World
Any labour shortages in the workforce have a cascading effect. According to the Global Leadership Forecast series, the shortage of leaders to fill crucial responsibilities is one of the most alarming leadership issues of 2022. Finding promising leaders of the future is crucial in maintaining a strong foundation in the organisation.
This exacerbates what was already a problem for many businesses. According to the 2018 Global Leadership Forecast, only 51% of firms had an effective strategy for recognising leadership potential. That was before many companies adopted a hybrid work paradigm, which now gives us additional obstacles to find high-potential employees.
Solution 1: Begin a broad search through assessments
Many organisations have returned to succession planning after pausing or delaying efforts to figure out how to rebuild their talent pools effectively. While companies may have a large pool of talent waiting to be developed, it’s hard to identify them through a virtual space. An easy step to take for a general surface search is through digital assessments that can help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of each member on your team. Once you’ve picked up on their traits, you can move on to a more comprehensive analysis or interview stage.
PROTIP: flowprofiler® covers psychometric assessments to evaluate emotional quotient, resilience and motivation in new candidates, existing team members and even leaders.
Solution 2: Determining and defining success profiles
To build a solid talent pipeline, you must first define what success looks like at your organisation. What leadership qualities will guide your company’s present and future strategies? With a clear understanding of the purpose you’re working towards, you can then find the right talents that fit your strategy and also help them develop leadership skills.
Solution 3: Improving virtual capabilities
Leaders reported having the least confidence in leading their team virtually. Fewer than 30% of leaders claimed they have received training in these areas, which is definitely something that needs to be addressed when a hybrid world is our new normal. Identifying future leaders must also include virtual training programmes to equip them with the skills to tackle leadership in a virtual world.
Challenge 3: Retaining Next-Generation Leaders
Companies have a pool of young leaders that are eager to learn and improve so it’s important to create a welcoming work atmosphere that enables talent from all generations to flourish and prosper. Developing leaders are seeking out more mentorship and feedback from their superiors but research has shown that leaders are not as proactive to coach them.
On top of that, up-and-coming leaders prioritise inclusion in their workplace and are looking toward their mentors to help challenge biases in the workplace. To put it simply, potential leaders are evaluating their current leaders (that’s you!) to assess if their work environment is suitable to improve their professional development. Here are some ways you can build trust in your mentees.
Solution 1: Emphasise flexibility and growth potential
New leaders want to see their organisation successfully adopting a hybrid or remote culture. Sticking to the old ways of requiring employees to work in the office does not show potential for growth or development as a company. So, continue riding the wave and allow flexibility of working from home or in the office.
You should also prioritise the next generation of leaders by giving them real-world leadership experiences. This can include smaller leadership assignments that are different from their everyday tasks. Give them a taste of what you get up to every day!
Solution 2: Build an inclusive culture
Inclusivity requires leaders to have empathy, build trust in their members and the ability to handle conflicts calmly. During team collaborations, listen to each member’s input and allow everyone to speak. Employees want to know that their voices are being heard. When handling conflicts, improving listening skills is a powerful ability to have so you can treat every situation fairly.
The greatest potential for leaders today is to help employees improve their performance, productivity and well-being. Instead of giving in to the temptation of using data to closely monitor and manage people, give your team access to these data insights to mould and improve their growth.
Leaders who are more effective and equipped to face future difficulties will play a critical role in this changing landscape. It could also determine which companies succeed in the coming future. The challenges posed to every organisation are the same but those who are focused on flexibility and adaptability are more likely to be successful.
1. Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash