The set of slides above is one of the better ones I have seen when it comes to the changing landscape of work.
Some noteworthy points:
- No job titles: This change should be here sooner than it is now. Job titles segregate one from another through social standings, financial status, monetary remuneration, authority rankings as well as power and influence. In every organisation, there should a person of authority to make the final decision but it may not be the right decision. The best decision is usually made through a vote in a democratic process after considerable deliberation, thereby eliminating groupthink. While the voting process contains its own fallacies, it beats a decision made by a single individual (no matter how capable he or she is) every time. It is always good to always bear in mind that inventions are seldom created by senior management but by innovative practitioners on the ground. So, credit should be given to them. Senior management is no longer the primary spokesperson for the company. Every employee and every customer now is, especially with the increasing amount of transparency that organisations require now to stay economically viable to survive in this new economy.
- No managers: Any employees who have their annual appraisal performances turned down a notch (or a few notches) by their managers/supervisors would attest to the fact that self-appraisals beat an appraisal by others every time. Yes, salary increments and bonuses should be tied to performance KPIs but we should let the employees’ performances speak for themselves. When one’s manager/supervisor is not with us most of the time, they may not see the whole picture. Introverts are especially placed at a disadvantage in this context. I have seen and heard too many instances of managers addressing introverts as “not sociable”, “unfriendly” and in one instance, a “walking zombie” – falling short of the term “misanthrope” being used. Removing the roles and designations of managers and more importantly, assigning employees the rights and responsibilities to address the employees’ own appraisals would be judicious, and this is especially so for most introverts, who is not “not sociable” but work-focused, who is not “unfriendly” but just like some time to themselves, who is not a “walking zombie” (as if from “The Walking Dead” TV series) but just thought-oriented and often intuitive, and who are definitely not misanthropes, but people-lovers who do not express their affection overtly for others as well as extroverts and “ambiverts“.
- Self-directed system called holacracy: This is a system which should be implemented ages ago. Hierarchical systems belong to the Industrial Age, which is now obsolete and defunct. In the hearts of most corporate employees (or most humans for that matter), there exists a deep and innermost desire to find a purpose in life, and this is sheer impossible to achieve if employees are merely asked to attend meetings, set sales quotas, answer incoming phone calls, reply emails (there are tons of them, most of which do not involve them!), report to managers, fulfill job responsibilities etc, when all they want is to innovate, create products and services, streamline processes, improve the work flows and systems. The former is a set of monotonous and mundane regime that employees plough through (and which computers are not smart enough to oversee, regrettably) while the latter is a creative and innovative touch that most employees would be happy to engage in. Google has set the precedent for this but other companies have to follow. Let employees take charge. The fact that organisations want to regain control and rope employees in is clear indication of fear. Giving employees full rein while expecting accountability and responsibility is the way to go for smart organisations.
- No teams but autonomous squads: The difference is simple and obvious. Team members are allocated but autonomous squad members are not. Allocation of team members is problematic since there are often conflicts and altercations due to personality and communication styles differences. This is not to say that autonomous squads are dream teams who sail along without a glitch. Both face the same issues but because autonomous squads share the same goals and dreams (since they are akin to tribes sharing the same interests and passions), they tide through conflicts (unlike teams, where some members are dissatisfied with what they are doing. Remember, teams are put together and are asked to do something, while autonomous squads choose what they are doing. There is a world of difference.)
- Disclosure of salaries: One can usually observe that the work contracts issued by HR to incoming employees are often regarded as confidential, and employees are hesitant or have reservations about informing their friends, and especially ,colleagues, about it. Why is this so? This is because in some organisations, the salary received by two employees holding the same designation may differ due to their differences in work experiences, academic qualifications etc. While this may be acceptable in olden days, this is no longer feasible in the New Economy where potentials of employees to contribute surpass that of their past contributions. Along the same vein, promotions should be “benchmarked” on one’s merits and contributions, instead of seniority. Not to digress further, let’s put it this way: disclosure of salary – tagged to one’s contributions to one’s companies and responsibilities held – should be open for all to see, so as to instill trust and respect within all in the organisations.
- Working smarter: “Work smarter” is a tricky technique, since some managers and supervisors love to use this as a curt reply to employees who inform them that they are overworked and overloaded with work. “You just have to work smarter” seems to be a smart answer but it is not. Think about it. Working smarter means having time to think things through and having the time and resources to streamline work processes to benefit in the long run. When an employee is overloaded with work and having to deal with the backlog of a few of his colleagues who had since left the organisation, how is it possible for him/her to work smarter with such time constraints (we only have 24 hours a day) even with the best time management techniques? Time management techniques are only useful with workable workloads. It can also be observed that some supervisors go on vacation while their subordinates work longer hours unsupervised. It leaves one wondering if this is what is considered “working smarter”..
- Unlimited vacation: I believe there will always be some employees wondering why their vacation leave is limited to a certain number of days per year. Is this due to mistrust by the organisations, that there are prevalent concerns that the employees may engage in malingering if there are given more leave? The same applies for MCs to be submitted to HR after every medical leave taken. Is this also a sign of mistrust? Unlimited vacation? For some organisations, this is simply unthinkable. What if their employees take the whole year off without working and still get paid by the organisation? This is the worst case scenario, isn’t it? Nevertheless, why not look on the bright side? The employees aren’t going to work well in office if there are overworked, understaffed, underpaid and overtaxed anyway. Some organisations have a mindset that keeping employees in office under the watchful eyes of their supervisors is the way to go since that will keep them working. This is probably the reason why “working from home” work schemes never took off in some places, especially places holding strong conservative views and traditionalist mindsets. Let the employees go, give them some time to while away, and watch them soar and the organisations flourish. Show them that the organisations trust them, and most employees will surely give back to the organisations with the same gratitude and autonomy that their organisations grant them, if not more. So, is it any wonder that the more watchful and scrutinising an organisation is, the more they find themselves handling rebellious and self-serving employees? The organisations reap what they sow.