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By The Numbers

Workplace Survey, Findings

1.Workers are struggling to work effectively. 

When focus is compromised in pursuit of Collaboration, neither works well.

2. Effective workplaces balance focus and collaboration. 

Workplaces designed to enable collaboration without sacrificing employees’ ability to focus are more successful.

3. Choice drives performance and innovation. 

Employers who provide a spectrum of choices for when and where to work are seen as more innovative and have higher-performing employees.

 

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HOW TO UNLOCK YOUR EMPLOYEES' PERFORMANCE POTENTIAL

Traditionally, management worked as a hierarchy, with information distributed from the top down. In this model, employees looked upwards, deferred to authority and aspired towards promotion; they also had fixed job descriptions to which they conformed. In today’s organization, the nature of people’s roles and responsibilities has dramatically changed, and workers need to be more adaptive to a fluid economy and constantly changing environment.

The new world is a networked world where the linear career path is long gone; instead we are faced with a career helter-skelter. It is highly likely that most roles that are in any way repetitive will be replaced by machines or robots in the near future. Our most important assets are therefore our minds and our human potential.

 

How we unlock this potential? Rajeeb Dey, the CEO of Enternships.com, says that in a connected economy, every employee should be a node, an expert in their own domain. “The role of the CEO should therefore be as a “chief energizing officer”, providing purpose and broader vision that the team can rally behind” he suggests.

Dey describes how at his company, Enternships, he has tried to embrace this, and to adopt totally new ways of working. “Now my role is to set out a short-term (often one to two-months) goal, not just for what we need to achieve, but for how and in what order the employees should work”, he says. They have one guiding principle: “what can I do today to add the most value to Enternships?” This helps the team prioritize their tasks, feel less like “coding monkeys” merely performing one development task after another, and gives them more space to innovate.

The results are already encouraging. The employees are taking the initiative to improve, they are often so excited that they end up working into their own time and the team is happier and more motivated at work. This approach does come with some challenges but at the end it’s a very interesting approach to improve team’s performance.

This way of working, which is more in sync with the millennial generation mindset, ultimately boils down to trust. If you trust your team members, more often than not they will step up and take responsibility. It then becomes less about the structures you have in place, and more about the culture you wish to inspire.

There is a lot we can learn from others who have blazed a trail in transforming the working cultures. Take Valve, a multibillion-dollar software company, which is often lauded as the poster child of a flat company with a “boss-less” structure. They have created a unique culture as well as that rarest of things: an employee handbook that is a must-read.

Another interesting innovation is Holacracy, a tool that lets companies structure themselves differently, avoiding conventional power structures. In the organization’s own words, “everyone becomes a leader of their roles and a follower of others”.

Still, there is more work to be done in order to better understand the challenges and opportunities of thinking the structure of organizations. What do you think?