What makes an effective manager? How do we foster and advance employee engagement? Is flexibility just about young people trying to protect their ability to work remotely in this new post-COVID landscape? I had the opportunity to delve into these important workplace topics and more in a lively discussion on KFNX Phoenix’s The Bill Brady Show.
While the generational issue can be important in some contexts, I told Bill, “I think it’s more complex than just making it about generational divisions. There are legitimately people who did grow up in a period of time where they did go into an office, and they did what their manager said. And that was how they worked. But on the other side, there is a whole group of multigenerational people, who for the last four years have worked very flexibly so they don’t have that same understanding of why you have to come into an office and do your work.”
One of the core challenges we discussed was how managers and their teams must come together to bridge the gap between mandating “you must come back to the office” and answering employees’ obvious question, “Why?”
The missing piece: organizations are not leading with the work when figuring out how, when and where they are going to operate most effectively. They lead with a set number of days in the office, or “where,” and use that as a proxy for performance or outcomes.
How to fix this is simple, but not necessarily easy given how many managers and organizations we see still trying to push office-focused mandates on their people. As I say often, so much of the opportunity we have to reimagine work starts with first asking WHAT DO WE NEED TO DO to define the PURPOSE as well as the desired OUTCOMES.
“If you feel like there is a purpose to your work, that you are given the priorities that make sense so that you have flexibility to get your job done and manage your life … there will be an engagement there that does pay off and it has been proven in the research. And it’s something that every organization on the other side of COVID needs to begin to craft in partnership with their employees. We have to be willing to meet in the middle, listen to each other and take the best of what both groups are saying and create what’s going to be next.”
Listen to the full interview here.