Leaders, strained by changing norms, keep falling back on outdated habits
Published Oct. 28, 2022
By Laurel Kalser Contributor
- The 2022 Future Forum Pulse findings, from a survey conducted by research consortium Future Forum released Oct. 20, point to a troublesome dichotomy between what executives are doing to respond to the new stressors and what they should be doing. In particular, nonexecutive employees are more than 3 times as likely as their bosses to want to work remotely full time, the survey found. Yet, many executives say they prefer working in the office, and their post-pandemic policies tend to reflect their experiences, with little or no input from employees.
- Pushing post-pandemic policies based on pre-pandemic norms — such as mandating full-time in-office work — may make matters worse, Future Forum said. Instead, the data shows that workers with flexibility over when and where they work report greater productivity and connection with their teams. “If you’re thinking in terms of ‘returning’ — returning to the old way, returning to the way the office used to be, returning to what worked for you — then it’s time to rethink that direction,” Ryan Anderson, an executive at Future Forum founding partner MillerKnoll, stated in a release.
The disconnect between employees and executives has been brewing for a while. A Mercer study released in April found that while nearly three-fourths of workers said they believed remote or hybrid work would make their organization more successful, 72% of executives worried about the impact of remote work on company culture.
There’s also a disconnect between executives and HR: Almost all (90%) of the HR leaders surveyed said work needs to be done to build trust at their companies, yet only 30% of executives see an ROI in building a healthy, resilient and equitable future of work.
However, for organizations to succeed, the future of work depends on everyone feeling like they’re benefiting from an equitable relationship between the employer and the individual, regardless of employment status and type of work, a Mercer leader stated.
In times of uncertainty, it’s natural for leaders to be cautious about letting go of familiar habits, but tweaking their perspective makes a difference, a Gallup post earlier this year noted. Instead of focusing on what they can’t do, leaders should focus on what they can do, the post said. This includes methods proven to stabilize organizations such as communicating clearly and more often with the rest of the organization and developing well-prepared managers.
Coaching leaders at all levels helps them rethink priorities and processes, according to a CoachHub survey on business trends for 2023. Coaching is seen as a key strategy for moving forward. For example, leaders who serve as coaches can help their organizations effectively adjust to shifting norms. Coaching also helps leaders better connect with direct reports and drive engagement, a 2021 survey found.
Many managers aren’t naturally prepared to lead, so training them on how to coach teaches them critical skills, such as how to be active listeners and meet their direct reports where they are, research shows.
Although coaching managers on how to coach is an important investment, many in the C-suite are hesitant to buy into it, an expert previously told HR Dive. But it may be exactly what’s needed now: Coaching helps address biases toward the old way of doing things, the expert said.