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Working the Future blog: our latest insights and future of work sensemaking

REMEMBER WHAT SIMON SAID AND START WITH ‘WHY?’

2021-06-29 10:17

Cathryn Barnard

Blog, FUTURE OF WORK CONSULTING, BUSINESS TRANSFORMATION, ORGANISATIONAL CHANGE, TRANSFORMATION,

REMEMBER WHAT SIMON SAID AND START WITH ‘WHY?’

When approaching the hybrid working conundrum, there’s no better place to start than at the beginning. Why does your organisation exist?

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I’m always intrigued by what a survey reveals.

 

When I was studying psychology, I vividly remember the module on research methods and in particular the limitations of surveys. While generally quick and efficient, surveys are known to carry several types of bias. The closed questions typical of a survey also limit the detail available for capture.

 

By contrast, thoughtfully composed open questions undertaken by interview, capture a whole raft of higher-quality insight. People share far more when they believe there’s a genuine interest in their answers.

 

To illustrate the point, let me share a story. In my hometown, we recently had a by-election.

 

In the weeks leading up to the by-election, one party was very present and visible in its campaign, taking time to knock on doors and find out what issues were troubling residents.

 

The other party was notable by its absence. Until the day of the election itself, we had one solitary visit, when the political candidate himself put a survey through the letter box, which he then collected an hour later. He didn’t stop to introduce himself, to build any kind of connection or to gather more detailed intelligence about what constituents might be looking for.

 

Hardly surprising then that the party most committed to listening and understanding won the election by a large margin. The ability to listen well is singularly the most underrated skill of our times.

 

Here in the UK, the Government has delayed the full reopening of the economy for another month. This means business has longer to consider the ‘where’ of post-pandemic working. The media is full of standoffs between staff and leaders, whose post-pandemic work preferences are diametrically opposed. In the US, news channels are forewarning of ‘The Great Resignation’, likely fuelled by the pandemic realisation that there’s more to life than work.

 

In our own work, business owners have described their own struggle to reconcile the demands of their staff with the wider needs of the organisation. Having spent so many months successfully working from home, many are reluctant to resume the daily grind and costs of commuting back and forth to the office.

 

As we always knew it would be, it’s complicated. But it doesn’t need to be.

 

When approaching the hybrid working conundrum, there’s no better place to start than at the beginning. Why does your organisation exist? What needs to happen each month to generate invoices and maintain revenue?

 

Now is the perfect moment to restate your organisational purpose.

 

As Simon Sinek famously said, start with why. When everyone understands the purpose, values and vision of the organisation, shared responsibility becomes much more obvious. And it’s much easier to have conversations about the ‘where’ of work when everyone understands the part they play and how this connects into wider organisational success outcomes.

 

From this springboard, a two-way conversation (that, by the way, further cements emotional commitment) will uncover a mutually acceptable path forward for both parties.

 

Getting to optimal hybrid work was never going to be plain sailing. But the success of humans as a species emanates from our sophisticated ability to communicate, knowledge share and collaborate.

 

Let’s use the skills we’re hardwired with to get hybrid working right for all.

 

Want to get to optimal hybrid-working faster? Check out our leading-edge resources here or contact us today to see how we can help.

 

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Looking to dive deeper into some of the areas covered in this blog post? You should also check out our Navigating Talent RiskRecruitment and Retention and Foresight Focus reports and products.

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