And two years ago, COVID-19 came to change everything. Or that’s what it seems. In my opinion, this pandemic only has accelerated things that were already happening. But, anyway, leaders need to rethink their managerial assumptions to adapt to a new era.
We’ve been talking about digital transformation for years but going through this pandemic has made us accelerate it as never, making changes, that once felt impossible, happen. Digital transformation was never only about tools or processes; it is about people; it is about how people face changes and, above all, why they should face them. This pandemic has simply given us a reason why we need to do things different.
Assumptions are a fundamental component of every decision-making process. In this context, leaders need to rethink those that no longer serve it because they can create biases that reinforce the status-quo when it’s obvious it should be changed.
Many employers want employees to return to the workplace, probably because they think that if the employees aren’t in the office, they’re less productive. But employees want more flexibility not only to work remotely, but also to decide when to work.
Rethinking is not about considering if this employers’ belief is true or not, but when it could be true and how to overcome the obstacles. Because there are jobs that can be done the same from home, but others might require a thought about why they’re designed the way they are and how to measure the outputs.
Measuring productivity should be one thing to rethink about. Many times, this want for presence responds to a lack of productivity goals setting and not a clear vision of what efficiency looks like. Therefore, the easiest way is to see how people work.
Not all jobs, neither all employees are the same
There is so much said about customer-centered policies, meaning that the company should be flexible and design processes and products having the customer in mind. All the customers.
Talking about employees, there is an assumption saying that the same rules should apply to everybody. And yet, not all employees are the same. This pandemic has erased barriers between professional and personal lives, with employees asking for different things depending on their particular situation.
The regular HR organization looks for standardization, avoiding special treatment. The key thing here is understanding that every employee should have customized treatment, within boundaries; meaning that managers should ensure conditions of nondiscrimination and fairness while recognizing the specific needs of each person.
Again, this requires a change in the managerial assumptions. Giving flexibility is more difficult to handle than the fixed HR rules of the past, and it asks for, again, a thought about how to redesign tools and processes.
When making decisions, it’s quite common people think in terms of false dichotomies: black or white. Maybe it’s time for leaders to open up their range and become in-the-gray thinkers, specially to change some of their managerial assumptions which are preventing them to evolve.