Top 5 Organizational Imperatives for Business Leaders to Become Winners in the New Normal
The post-COVID-19 business scenario will not look the same across industries or countries. It will pose challenges and opportunities to leaders.
Tips for Business Leaders to Attain Success in the New Normal
While traits like empathy, authenticity, clarity, and agility remain crucial during this uncertainty, leaders face challenges to maintain a sense of connection and togetherness within their teams. However, as businesses are beginning to get back on track, leaders will have to leverage new insights and advancements to rebuild the workplace rather than returning to it as usual.
This article discusses five best practices that business leaders can follow and prepare their organization for the future.
1. Have a clear purpose
There is a big difference between a “factor” and a “must-have.” A company that has a unique affirmation of its identity embodies everything the company stands for. This purpose helps future-ready companies to attract people to join the organization, stay and thrive. Also, investors understand why it is valuable.
According to a survey, 82% of companies in the U.S said that organizational purpose is essential, but only half of these companies said their purpose drove impact. So, what can bridge the gap?
Leaders can set the purpose in motion and make it real for people. This can be achieved when employees identify and feel connected to their organization’s purpose. For example, Amazon leaves a chair vacant during meetings to represent the customer’s role in decisions. CVS Health stopped selling tobacco products to achieve the purpose of helping people to attain better health.
Research reveals that people who live their purpose at work are four times more likely to report better engagement levels than those who do not.
Simply put, purpose inspires commitment, reveals the untapped market potential, and even navigates uncertainty. So, companies must articulate what they stand for and use their purpose to connect employees and stakeholders in ways that justify their business choice.
2. Create a value agenda
An organization must create a value plan that helps convert its ambitions and targets into tangible elements such as business units, product lines, regions, and capabilities. This allows companies to articulate where value is created and set it apart to drive future success.
Organizations must use the value agenda to focus their efforts and enable their employees to understand what matters. If this is achieved, the results can be significant and hard to replicate.
For instance, Apple ensures it provides the best user experience. The company gives importance to not just the product design but also the product packaging. Apple has a dedicated packaging team to ensure users elicit the right emotional response while unboxing.
Having a clear value agenda will help a company devise better strategic priorities and become agile to shift resources as priorities change.
3. Distinct culture
Future-ready companies need to have a distinct culture that can help them distinguish themselves from others. Culture includes rituals, symbols, behaviors, and experiences that describe how an organization works.
For example, Amazon enforces its “two-pizza rule,” according to which every internal team should be small enough to be fed with two pizzas. This rule supports the company’s approach to meetings: no PowerPoint, shorter meetings, and start with silence to allow participants to go through the pre-meeting memo. These approaches may sound silly, but in reality, it enables the company to reach better decisions faster.
For successful companies, culture forms the backbone and fuels sustained excellence in performance over time. Studies show that companies with strong cultures are three times more likely to achieve higher total returns to shareholders than those without a healthy culture.
Leaders have to consider specific behaviors that employees at all levels adhere to create a robust performance culture.
4. Flatten structure
In recent years, the business environment has become more complex and interconnected. Many companies have adapted to these changes and created a more sophisticated matrix expecting it to solve market complexity. However, this is not how it should be.
Future-ready organizations must prepare themselves to become fitter, faster, flatter, and better at unlocking considerable value. The goal should not be to eliminate hierarchy but to flatten the organization, adopt the most uncomplicated profit and loss management structure, and reinforce business objectives with robust performance management and other mechanisms.
For example, Haier, a China-based company of appliances and electronics, adopted emergent and agile teams instead of the traditional hierarchy. The multinational company has no layers, no conventional bosses, and no middle management.
Another example to consider is Google. It follows a “non-zero-sum” management approach that emphasizes developing a communication line running in all directions rather than reporting relationships. It brings together cross-functional and professional skills while avoiding hierarchical mindsets. Such teams can act fast because they are flexible, are ready to learn from mistakes, and try new approaches.
In simple words, the future-ready organization must include models that are designed around people and activities. As technology advances, bosses will become coaches and enablers rather than micromanagers. When organizations set their priorities and ways of working, responsibilities, and transparent decisions, they can empower their frontline staff to make decisions.
5. Prioritize data-rich tech platforms
Data is of utmost importance, and future-ready companies need to take it seriously. For example, Netflix transformed from a small DVD-provider to a multifaceted global OTT content platform and media production company by leveraging insights from its user data through powerful algorithms.
So, future-ready companies need to understand that data can empower decisions, and the value agenda provides unexpected yet promising opportunities.
To get maximum benefits from the data, future-ready companies must create practical approaches to data governance, redesign processes in a modular fashion, and leverage cloud-based technology by dynamically reallocating their budgets. By utilizing the data effectively, companies can develop new products, services, and even LOBs.
There’s no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic has left many businesses in grief and economic dislocation. Business leaders must lead with empathy and compassion as they start to re-energize and revitalize their teams. The best leaders establish and reinforce behaviors that can support their organization during this crisis and after.
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