Updated: Sep 24, 2021
When working norms change, generational shifts in workplace culture, expectation and management ripple out like a wave. As the global workforce learns to live alongside COVID-19 in what can now be called a post-pandemic environment, executives, business leaders and managers are taking stock of these waves of cultural change, and making critical adjustments where needed to support their teams and services. A more empathic form of people management is coming to the fore. Despite the rapid digitization of vast swathes of industry, the defining increase in remote working, and the rise and rise of digital collaboration tools, if the pandemic taught us anything it’s that the heart of soul of any enterprise is it’s people. The pandemic and managing people in our new normal. Change management, in whatever form it manifests, is only effective once that change becomes habitual and this is the critical difference between good and bad leadership: the ability to create new mindsets and frames of understanding in which both leaders, and employees, can create new habits within work. Once established, you will see the fruits of your labour in real time, consistently and across hierarchies and generations. But in the age of remote work and as people struggle with our changed new normal, what habits signify effective people management? Our top 5 most effective people management strategies: De-clone your staff management ● This could also be called Hyper Personalize your management. ● Managers in our disparate, interconnected modern world of work need to take a leaf out of the e-commerce and marketing book - people management needs to be personalized. That means both implementing and consistently delivering on more curated, more personal performance management and feedback systems, so your teams understand how and why they are operating in our new disrupted environment. ● This not only builds structure and relevant expectations for your staff, which is more important than ever if you work in a hybrid or remote working set up, but it also builds morale - your teams feel listened too, their worries feel shared and they see that you’re building a customized system of management, unique to them. Time delegation in the age of remote work ● This could also be called trusting asynchronous collaboration. ● Business agility is often touted as the no.1 soft skill for candidates in almost every industry - the ability to react professionally, calmly, to rapid changes in working dynamics, be it interpersonal or environmental. But agility needs to be mirrored in management, and that means trusting hybrid forms of project management, iterative learning and asynchronous working - you need to be able to let your teams determine how they can best complete tasks, or projects, and that requires a novel form of time, rather than responsibility, delegation.
Brand First ● Those who fail to tie brand into performance management, recruitment or retention of staff will find their teams lack purpose, corporate vision, collaborative goals and expectations. ● Building a “brand first” strategy doesn’t mean clever internal marketing tricks or newsletters (although they do help!) - it’s about subtly, and consistently, reinforcing your corporate/company wide purpose and vision into your day to day people management. ● For example, during a performance management review, include structures of discussion around brand values and ethics - do your staff understand what their employer’s brand mission is? Do they want to be involved in the wider holistic brand mission management? Do they understand why the company has those values? ● Staff who feel ethically attached to their company will stay with their employer longer (especially younger workers), be more productive, and be happier. This is your chance to encourage that!
Consistency and Building Long-term Vision ● Consistency is more of an attitudinal commitment - after COVID hit, a lot of previously consistent systems, strategies and habits went out the window. Consistency, now, means persistently delivering standards of management, support, governance, learning and performance management focused on your people, their wellbeing, their mental health and their career. ● This last point is most important for younger generations - they value a much swifter career pathway, L&D, ethically led leadership and fair remuneration for their labour. Long gone are the days of the aloof manager - now, the Servant Leader rules, where your people can see your hard work, consistently delivered.
If Consistency is Queen, Communication is King ● None of the above is doable without clear and concise lines of communication. ● Communication is the foundation of how you manage people - and in our increasingly hybrid work spaces, disconnected social lives and tech-oriented work cultures, communication is the flag your staff turn to when they need direction. ● Effective communication takes stock of more holistic values within a workplace - hyper personalization, empathic leadership and active listening - all of which are vital tools for the effective communicator. ● Rather conversely, good management communication actually means listening to your staff, customers, service providers and co-business leaders more. The bottom line. Effective leadership is a skill that meanders and adapts as working cultures and people change - but someone has to implement and consistently deliver that change, and that is where effective people managers come to the fore. Through building habits that take stock of how and why things are changing, as they change, and tying these changes back to your brand mission, you will be able to provide effective leadership and corporate vision. Crucially, you’ll be doing it through your people.