proactive measures

Proactive Measures: Critical Success factors for the Future of Work

Proactive measures and personal involvement are becoming essential for your team’s advancement, workforce, and business, as well as your own work and career. As a result, self-awareness and emotional intelligence are becoming critical success factors to facilitate individually-sensitive, informed decision-making in the emerging, talent-focused, Future-of-Work environment.

It used to be “easy”. You went to work, executed agreed-upon annual objectives, directed and managed your team(s) (often at some psychological distance), and left work behind at the end of the day. Your career was on a linear track that rose incrementally up the corporate ladder.

However, we have discovered that the traditional business environment has not nurtured value creation, evidenced by ongoing low engagement in Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report and low productivity (BLS, January 2017). Furthermore, the technologically-accelerated pace of business dictates a more flexible approach; KPIs often have shorter time horizons, and this pushes decision-making further down in the organization to be able to respond in a timely manner.

Flatter corporate structures have contributed to the demise of the linear, compounding, vertical career progression and the transition to latticed models. These integrate lateral and diagonal moves in addition to vertical ones to stimulate employees’ continued interest.

Consider the superior benefits that can accrue to both employees and enterprise alike with proactive measures like thoughtful individualized attention and personal introspection. These include increased employee engagement leading to higher productivity, greater corporate loyalty, and lower “presenteeism” (the term for being physically but not mentally at the office) and turnover. If you stimulate the active and personal involvement of your workforce—leaders, managers, and team members alike—each person can better:

  • Align with the company culture and respond fully to new accountability
  • Develop an optimized personalized work situation
  • Design, and successfully manage, a customized and self-directed career

Aligned Company Participation

How well are you aligned with your current or potential employer’s values? Do you feel comfortable at work, or you don’t quite fit in? Is the company’s mission or culture a determining factor in selecting, pursuing or staying at your company?

These questions are now being posed and answered by prospective hires and employees who are becoming attuned to companies’ cultures and missions. Through these proactive measures, more people recognize the difference personal alignment and purpose can make to their enjoyment of work experience and resulting performance. Your talent therefore increasingly seeks to identify and match their own purpose and values with those of your organization.

Employers acknowledge the same results as they experience the increased worker loyalty, longer tenure, and higher performance levels that Imperative and NYU’s 2015 Workforce Purpose Index confirmed. They, therefore, look to elevate awareness in employees about core personal values and purpose that can then be compared with thoughtfully articulated and consistently communicated corporate ones to create the desired connections with employees.

In addition, leadership styles are evolving with an increasing emphasis on empathy and giving workers greater autonomy to deepen their engagement, especially for the growing numbers of knowledge workers, as recommended in Management Challenges for the 21st Century by Peter Drucker. You can most effectively achieve a transfer of control and accountability to an employee when responsibility becomes individually-relevant and resonates, and remains clearly understood so the person knows the expectations going forward.

Personalized Work Situations

Many workers are faced with a new range of options enabling them to customize their individual “work profile” –the outline and design of their overall work situation. These new choices may include streamlining tasks to focus on their strengths and making new or additional personally-relevant decisions about work location and timing to improve the fit of their corporate and non-corporate obligations.

Individually-harmonized schedules reduce distractions and stress in the workplace and improve engagement, as do supervisors focusing on employees’ strengths revealed in Gallup’s 2009 research with results of twice the average U.S. engagement levels. However, for many people, it is an unfamiliar experience to be presented with these options.

Therefore, proactive measures like active manager intervention and support assist the discovery process for employees and their establishment of relevant personalized work profiles, leading to better outcomes. Help your employees create job profiles that better fit their unique strengths, styles, and situations. You can prompt them to explore such questions as:

  • Do you work better early or late, and in isolated or populated spaces?
  • Do you prefer entirely independent tasks or team projects?
  • What types of work and specific tasks do you enjoy most?
  • What non-corporate obligations are in conflict with your work and what flexible arrangements/models could be complementary instead?

Ensuing discussions also recognize that other team members’ desired work emphases and schedules have value during the process. Individually-sensitive compromise helps achieve optimal work profiles for the team overall and each team member while bonding the team in supporting each other’s profile objectives.

Self-managed Careers

At the same time, the emerging new career paradigms shift the onus to the individual with the rising profile of professionals with multiple self-directed and self-managed careers, as well as more diversified and fragmented. The emphasis becomes income, not jobs, where a person’s corporate involvement includes full-time, part-time and project or consulting tasks, in series and in parallel.

Within your corporate environment, your employees are adjusting to evolving career patterns. Proactive inputs from both employee and manager craft the new customized dimensions of career possibilities. The employee’s ongoing involvement is essential to select preferred short-term moves and monitor future opportunities.

Proactive measures like coaching can help develop employees’ self-awareness and emotional intelligence so they can:

  • Improve their self-analysis, understanding, and contributions
  • Build beneficial relationships to support their successful advancement
  • Navigate their potential progression through the organization
  • Define individually-relevant work parameters supplanting the blurred standard work-life boundaries

Providing purposeful support for new career experience management also clearly communicates employees’ importance to the organization promoting engagement and retention.

Reactive and isolated corporate presence is losing viability in the workplace for anyone who wants to advance successfully. The benefits of activated personal participation in a more engaged, individualized and integrated environment are greater understanding, connection, commitment, and performance. The superior outcomes will speak for themselves.

Now, it is about taking it personally and helping everyone else do the same.



Sophie Wade

Sophie Wade is the author of "Embracing Progress: Next Steps For The Future Of Work," and founder of Flexcel Network, which provides consulting services to maximize the benefits and minimize the disruption in the transition to the new work environment.

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