Problem: In a world of increasing demands, managing complexity and maintaining employee engagement is challenging.
Solution: Embrace devolved responsibility, but add listening and connection to enable employees to adapt and thrive.
I went to the Future of Work Conference last week, and this is what I took away.
In this complex world, achieving agility demands a high degree of devolved responsibility. People are granted more ownership in their roles, at just the same time as they are more physically separated than ever. As control and decision-making authority are distributed, the conventional top-down flow of information diminishes, affecting bottom-up listening.
Maintaining a strong connection to the organisation's purpose is crucial to prevent drift and disengagement. Without a clear link between individual efforts and a greater mission, it's easy for employees to feel that their work lacks significance.
Granting ownership comes with its own challenges, notably the need for psychological safety, as greater responsibility can feel like pressure rather than freedom.
However, there's a path forward. To address this challenge, organizations can actively listen to more voices, and open the door to co-creation of ideas – which can ease pain, which can be transformational. This kind of Involvement has a dual-effect: it’s good for the productivity of your organisation and it’s good for the engagement of your people (which links to further productivity).
Here's where – inevitably, especially at a future of work conference - AI comes into play. It can process vast amounts of data and identify critical themes.
But it's still humans who can bring that data to life, capture true meaning, and communicate effectively. People craft stories, understand individual preferences, and react to one another, making their roles indispensable.
In this evolving landscape, jobs may be safe, but jobs will definitely be different. So, there’s a need for individuals to adapt quickly – and a huge responsibility on employers to help people do that.