6 Connect by building your organisation’s ‘collaborative capacity’
It’s not your job as leader to tell people when to collaborate – but you need to make collaboration easy, especially if and when it can only be virtual. Build a network of trust-based relationships, make communications easy and efficient, and role-model cooperative actions. Make sure ideas flow easily and quickly in all directions.
- Conduct an informal network analysis – identify influencers and the isolated, and organise events to create new relationships
- Make sure every task team has at least 25% new members
- Have strong technology that allows easy communications at distance
- Help individuals identify who they should know in order to be effective in their roles.
7 Engage by understanding and exceeding implied promises
Communicate goals that are unique and compelling and understand the implicit promise embedded in these statements. What would a reasonable person expect from an organisation that says these things? The entire experience of both customers and employees must deliver that expectation.
- Ask people why they chose to join your company – listen for the patterns
- Then ask people if the experience has met their expectations – pinpoint the gaps
- Make sure your company message is true, unique and compelling, and consistent with why people joined
- Imagine how to demonstrate these promises through actions. Provide a lot of whatever people joined to get (learning, challenge, fun, stability)
- Design rituals specific to your organisation that illustrate your values (purpose, promise). In this virtual environment, it’s okay to go “over the top”.
Great environments are shaped by leaders’ actions. But beyond new roles for leaders, many characteristics of our organisations will also need to be revised. Follow these three principles: options, choice, trust.
8 Leaders must create options: Own less, plan less
Options are integral to creating agility, flexibility and responsiveness. They give people on the frontline a sense of control and choice. Leaders must systematically review the organisation’s assets, including work arrangements, creating options for agility, where appropriate. Assets, positions or people that it increasingly would be smart not to own include those characterised by uncertainty regarding future demand for the resource or skill, fluctuations in current demand and wide availability outside the organisation.
9 Ensure the organisation offers choice whenever possible
Processes can be designed either to dictate rules or offer choices. Leaders should strive to create a “community of adults”, allowing people to express preferences regarding a wide variety of work conditions, such as the amount of time invested, when and where to work, how far to collaborate, how much challenge to offer, which skills they prefer to develop and what they expect to be paid.
Teach people how to make decisions using the same thought process you would go through. This is the practical way to empower.
10 Actively build trust. It will be the glue that holds organisations together
One of the most important ways to build two-way trust is to emphasise increasing the human asset value of everyone in your organisation. This helps your people feel secure, as they gain new skills and thus broader options – and it helps the organisation feel comfortable in allowing individuals to take on more.
Compete for talent based on how the market values work experience within your organisation. Be known as the best source of talent in specific disciplines or capabilities, create a learning environment filled with teaching and new challenges, and consider offering “badges” – credentials with commercial value.
Ask: Does association with our organisation increase an individual’s value as a human asset?
The days when leaders needed to be alone out in front – the smartest, the most charismatic person – are over. Great leaders today think like engineers to create an environment where talented people choose to join and choose to do great work.
Tammy Erickson is the Academic Director and lead faculty for Leading Businesses Into the Future at London Business School