• Eugene McGarrell

Hey leaders, the future of work is now - Are you ready?

Are we ready for the “future of work”? We had better be, because the future of work in now.

Boards, CEOs and Executives need to have adapted to the new mindset that is required to survive. Organisations operating with the old models of change management will not prosper in the new world, most if not all will not survive.

Knowledge of the new leadership paradigm is emerging. Earlier this year CSR Europe published Future of Work: 5 Principles for sustainable workforce transition. Their principles are not new of course, Deloitte published Transitioning to the Future of Work and the Workplace back in 2016. Thought leaders are talking at conferences and writing in articles about the change we need to make to prepare for “future of work”.

In a nutshell, what is that change we need to make?

To survive the tsunami of change required to compete in the world of automation and machine learning we need to paradoxically become more human centred. The introduction of robots and AI will require leaders to become competent and expert with people. Not people management… just people.

The days of giving direction, managing performance and technical leadership are coming to an end. Leaders must now learn to engage with people, to create human connection at work and to provide a safe and secure environment for people to transition into the new world.

People learn quickly in a safe environment where they are encouraged to try, fail, retry and succeed. People treated as “human resources” will keep on doing what they’ve always done and only what they need to do given the role description they applied for 5 years ago.

Stubborn leaders unwilling to build their human connection capability will create a distance between the Board and the people delivering the service. This gap will create environment for resentment, anger and frustration. As soon as the “adversarial gap” is established then just like trench warfare a was of attrition will grind the business down to the ground.

Leaders need their people to be engaged, to be seen, to feel they belong and to be prepared to try new things. To try a new way of working outside of their comfort zone needs a work culture that not only states it supports its people but practically provides that support every day. We need to embody the “servant leader” style of management.

The work of leaders such as @Louise Watts, @Karen Thomas and colleagues at Transition Hub are responding to meet this competency gap in organisations. For full transparency I should say that I have been so impressed with their work that I have joined their team as a Career Coach. Recently I found myself “between jobs” and decided to attend their 5-day Foundation Course. I was so impressed with their model that I applied and was successful in getting a place on their coach training program.

Most leaders will understand the need for change in leadership style, but many won’t know how to change their approach. Most people know they need to adapt to the new working context, but most won’t know how to adapt. The digital innovations will take over the workplace, this change will take place whether we like it or not. But for us to survive we need to transition, and transition quickly.

Many leaders will be seeing the signs in their workplace. The culture will feel toxic, absence rates will be increasing, productivity will be down, and workers compensation claims for psychological stress will be climbing. The cost of low productivity and absenteeism will cripple organisations. It’s time to take action now.

Eugene McGarrell coaches people, teams and organisations in transition.

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