The Future of Work

future sign

I had an absolute blast at the Centre for Workplace Leadership’s Future of Work conference over the last two days, and in a way I’m not sure where to start and what to write about. I think the various ideas will be swirling around in my head of a while, from the power of values described by Lisa Doig of Corporate Evolution to talking to a few people about new and exciting possible projects. I got to hear two gurus of organisational theory, Frédéric Laloux and Dan Pink, and so many great tweets and tweeters (see below).

So what was the main takeaway? Something I found very thought-provoking was a point at the end of Dan Pink’s talk. He identified three areas which were important for motivating people at work that involved anything above rudimentary cognitive skills. These were Purpose, Mastery and Autonomy. In autonomy, he identified 4 Ts:

Task

Time

Team

Technique

A very wise person at the conference added a 5th T to this list

Technology

This really rings true with me. As an employee, I want to know what you as the manager want me to do, but I want you to trust me enough to work out exactly how to deliver the desired outcome, do this at a time that works for me, find the right people to complete that task to the best I can and do it the way I/we think works. And if my own device, service or app can help me do it without actively interfering in the organisation’s systems or without risking security or privacy, then I’d like to choose that too.

Dan (can I call him Dan? He seemed like the kind of guy that would let you!) mentioned three organisations that had given their employees time and headspace to think about how they do things, to get those various tweaks that can make things work better (and get those all-important efficiences that CEOs want!). I suggested a similar approach to a public sector team during my tackling rigid thinking session earlier this week: if a team is blocking your suggestions for change, ask them what they would do to reach the desired outcome and not only will it probably work better, but they are much more likely to be committed to actually doing it.

All of these ideas speak to a number of things I have learned or thought about over the past year:

Other people can bring insights and skills to my work that make it better. I should embrace their cooperation, not reject it.

The focus in terms of evaluation/success should be outcome, not just output and certainly not process. So often success is defined in terms of process, if defined at all. Of course people are turned off evaluation processes if they are measuring things that don’t really matter to them. There are many ways to reach the top of a mountain. Two mountaineers will have different strengths that mean they approach the mountain differently. Even the same mountaineer might take a different route depending on her fitness, the weather conditions, her team and so on. This is fine, because it’s about getting to the top of the mountain.

Ideas happen when you give people space (but not unlimited space) to think. In the workplace it’s really easy to get focused on the everyday tasks, especially when these are overwhelming you, or taking up time. But a bit of time every so often to think longer term and bigger picture could make a huge difference.

So exciting days all round, great contact made and I hope the start of something wonderful!

Published by Antonia

I'm a British citizen and European Union offical, who lives in Brussels again after 6 years in London and 8 in Melbourne. I went to the London School of Economics and University of Melbourne. In 2008 I took part in the Eisenhower Fellowship Multination Programme, the subject of 3 of my blogs. You can find me on Twitter as @antoniamochan or @antoniam

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