Get back in the box (BIB) and adapt your business to the new reality

One thing that has not changed in the past few years – The people in your company will ultimately determine the success or failure of your business. Your people ARE your most important asset! Not new news, is it?

Hopefully we are so close to emerging from the worst of the pandemic, and executives around the globe are looking forward to what they believe will be a relatively easy year in contrast with the two unpleasant years that will be etched in history for many reasons. However, don’t get so excited about 2022 that you fail in preparation from the ambush of emerging people management challenges.

I am here to confidently state this may not be as challengingly stressful, or different as we all think – (The perception that it is strong, could possibly be driven by strategy consultants, gleefully rubbing their hands awaiting the dollars).

The trends we all see daily, about ‘The new now, the new world, the inflated dump of ‘transformational advice’ and a raincloud of words and attributes to place upon our Leaders: Agile, empathetic, resilient, bravery etc. ‘Be nicer to your people’ is the other. Mental health, care, understanding…Leadership and people knowledge is awash with attribute descriptions: but’ the how ‘and clarity is muddled!

It’s also so bespoke to individual business outputs and existing cultures that is almost dangerous to be so ‘big picture and vague’. It’s similar to telling a bus driver how to grow cucumbers ; interesting, but not relevant. Often not calculable. This encouraged me to focus on one of my longstanding passions I’ve always had, and being vocal about : let’s get back IN the box and stop drifting so far OUT of it. Most of it works!

I must take this opportunity to say, most of these ‘new’ pandemic driven recommendations, should have been in place pre-pandemic, and none of the actions are newly designed. Its how it should have been!

BIB (Back in The Box), standard people strategies that we have become so driven to outdate with ‘super innovative pushes’, we’ve left them all at the back of the cupboard. Getting back there and dusting them off will give your business and people strategies more inertia than most other vast transformational strategies.

So, what are these basics gathering dust? In terms of people foundations : it’s Recruitment and talent management. It’s performance focused . It’s inductions and skills-based management. It’s right back here. Even behind new competency setting.

In the attitude of ease, and the clear approach – I’ve lessened the ingenious VUCA/Pandemic branded explanations, theories and guru statements.

What grass roots process needs adjustments to give you strength in your people strategies.

1: Basic People planning. In terms of approaches and management. Simply we have newer hybrid situations: The shifts will arise in : A whole new pool of accessible talent , no more a question at interview: how will they reach the office? This must be one of the most restricted and costly areas of people management : using a catchment area, or relocation costs. Chain unleashed! The world is now your reach in terms of talent. BIB ADAPT TOOL: New contracts, pay scales and ‘’company rules’’ updated to fit.

2: Human Capital Costs. CPP (cost per person) needs a revaluation – in terms of altered ways of working. Make a decision on Hybrid working numbers, and be brave. Any business owner that cannot articulate their CPP is not aware enough! There are many online calculators to assist you with this. But its undeniably altered.

3: Hybrid technology and communication aptitude . Remote working has its challenges, but it’s not as dramatic as we believe, it’s just different! Not being in one room huddled face to face is no reason to believe collaboration and team work cannot occur. Just the shift approaches, be smart and re-plan engagement activities and learnings. BIB ADAPT TOOL: New learnings, Trainings and communication methods.

4: The recruitment process. Our static ways that even some orgs struggle with need updating. Commencing with the Knowledge Skills and Attributes desired for roles and indeed new ways of working: Leadership traits. The ways we measure people: All need refreshing. It’s the most logical focus to me. A drive through on each of these areas has to be one of the most essential focuses. The KSAs of each role has to be updated. *Don’t forget this alters into your talent management processes – we need slightly different focuses. BIB ADAPT TOOL : New people profiles, Knowledge, Skills, Attributes revision.

5: Induction : A whole new plan and approach is required – A complete re-design adapted into Hybris working and new processes. BIB ADAPT TOOL: To include all business updates, ways of working, awareness on newer health issues, expected communications. Lots of changes here!

6: Performance management I rejoice when I see “attendance” related measurements removed: no longer do we judge hours sat in an office; but focus purely on our output, results!!! Success!!! What a relief. The hugest achievers leaving the office daily on time no longer feel the pressure! If someone’s having to stay in office for exceptional hours; there’s something wrong? Either with the capability of the employee or the allocation and work flow. Correctly structured organizations don’t have these issues. If my team was ever staying late regularly, I’d be all over it. Why? You’ve all had eight hours, now you need 2 more? Somethings seriously wrong. The way we measure our people needs to change, the flexi ability needs to change. Clear performance and results focus enables this. If employee Bob now needs to walk his dog in his work from home shift, he won’t receive a warning as long as he has performed, and is available for agreed meetings. BIB ADAPT TOOL: To forcibly extract performance/results quantum’s from department heads, with focused energy and clarity and update performance management systems and forms.

7: Leadership teams and development and upgrading. Focus on core areas with the refreshing re-cleanse drive. It starts at the beginning: as most things do! If people focus gets it’s cleansing, then as these flows through the leadership teams, each area of work flow will automatically change. Embrace an “ideas culture.” Kevin Roberts, of advertising agency Saatchi and Saatchi, coined this alternative VUCA definition: “Vibrant, unreal, crazy, and astounding.” This describes the kind of energetic culture that can give teams and organizations a creative, agile edge in uncertain times. BIB ADAPT TOOL: Lean on your Leaders! Trust them. Be inclusive and include them in open communication and let them create the new way, the ‘’what’s now required’’

8: Develop teams traditionally, and promote collaboration (This does not require high spend consultants or learning agencies) In complex situations, clearly expressed communications helps everyone to understand your team’s or organization’s direction. React to Complexity with Clarity. In every area. VUCA situations are often too complicated for one person to handle. So, build teams that can work effectively in a fast-paced, unpredictable environment. Lead your team members but don’t dictate to or control them. Develop a collaborative environment, and work hard to build consensus . Encourage debate, dissent and participation from everyone. BIB ADAPT TOOL: Just communicate! Openly, honestly and with sincerity. Choose new approaches to this communication, Get the CEO on the meetings too! Best practice was yesterday – Pick up the good and adapt it. Cut the mess, spring clean the very basics of people approaches starts at the very base: Start by understanding how habits have changed, let the drama go. Companies seeking to emerge from the crisis in a stronger position must get BIB and strengthen the core foundations.

Paula Jane Cox is a partner for Lumina Learning in the Middle East. She has over 18 years experience in consulting with leaders and decision-makers to improve business effectiveness, the bottom line and engaging employees on a global scale. Currently residing in the UAE.