2020 has been a rollercoaster of a year for us all in one way or another and we still have three months to go. Are we in for more twists and turns? Who knows, but one thing I do know is that it's time to go back to basics.
Ever since I've started my career we seem to have been overcomplicating our relationships, the way we communicate, the way we manage and the way we lead. We're adding more and more complexity to everything we do and it's been past the point of overwhelm for a lot of us for years.
Leadership has somehow moved away from leading from the front and become a term we use for the most senior people in the business. Management is no longer about people but performance, measures and stats. Work is no longer something you do 9-5 Monday to Friday but an all encompassing thing that we carry around in our pockets, and have constantly in our hands.
Our wellbeing is being impacted more and more each and every day. We're sleeping less, working more, avoiding conversations, stress levels are rising and a job for life is a thing of the past.
We have more ways to communicate with one another, emails, video calls, online chat, text, whattsapp, calls, meetings, FaceTime - I'd love to close down some of my social channels. I've got conversations going on via email, DM on Twitter and Facebook, LinkedIn messaging, Whattsapp, calls, Instagram and text. I'm being tagged on more channels than I even knew existed and that alone is enough to drive me to despair.
I've never said I'm contactable in all of these mediums, but the preference of others has somehow pulled me into this multichannel nightmare that at times I can't keep up with. And then there are the internal channels and systems, the project management systems, the CRM's, the group chats, the smaller group chats, the company chats - and none of these, beside my voicemail and email have a function to say I'm out of the office taking a break.
I'm not saying I'd be without the channels to engage with and interact with clients new and existing, but has it all got a bit too much?
Add to this the ongoing and relentless conversations about how best to motivate, engage, reward, communicate, performance manage, recruit, retain, develop, manage and lead our people and you'll find a million different 'best practice' frameworks and guidelines on how to do all of this and more - yet we're still not getting what we want from our work, and our people are still not fulfilled and happy in their jobs. I know not everyone falls into this category, I and many others I know and don't know love their jobs. But if we look around us this is not the case for majority of people out there. And so after all of this time, and all of this research, and all of these new ways, how do we know what's best? How do we know what to do? How do we get back to basics and to a more simple way of working?
Well, we do just that - we simplify and we go back to basics.
We stop trying to blindside our people with gadgets and gizmos and countless ways to communicate, and we speak to them about what they want and we make it happen. We communicate simply and effectively, with clarity and as often as our people need. We avoid the jargon. We speak in plain language in way that everyone that understands and in a way that avoids confusion.
We simplify our processes, systems and practices. Period.
We forget bast practice and do what is best for our people.
We stop the pointless, unnecessary and complicated performance management processes. We speak to our people on a regular basis. Reward when reward is right. And develop when development is required.
We stop pretending we are all family units and instead create high performing and autonomous teams. No complications, just purpose, passion and performance.
We stop the surveys, we do very little with them anyway and instead we create trust and communication that allows changes to be made.
We stop the dashboards, and data and stats and instead measure just one thing - business performance. Everything else should be feeding this. What gets measured gets done.
We stop expecting our people to be switched on and available 24 hours a day seven days a week.
We stop pretending that office or home are the only two options available to us as we start to prepare for the future of work.
We focus on outputs and outcomes instead of hours worked. We stop using presenteeism as a badge of honour and instead reward for the work done, assuming it's been achieved in a moral and ethical way.
And we stop treating our people as numbers and always put them first, as people.
Ultimately, business, culture, leadership, management and the work we do is about three things; language, relationships and behaviours. We are social beings not machines. The longer we continue to live and work as robots the more disconnected we will be.
So let's get back to basics, it really is as simple as 1,2,3.