Globalisation has revolutionised the ways that businesses of all sizes now work. But while digital transformation brings many positives, it also creates new issues that businesses have not previously had to deal with.
With little warning, old “industrial steamships” have been thrown out of the market by small innovative “speedboats” in the form of start-ups. Entire industries have changed in a short time or have disappeared completely because they are simply no longer needed.
A culture of change
When analysing the economic development in Europe, we recognise increasingly difficult framework conditions for corporate management and speak in the context of the “VUCA world”. VUCA is an acronym for the English words: Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity.
As if all this were not challenging enough, for over a year, people around the world have also been struggling with the Covid pandemic, which has turbo-charged digitalisation through the forced widespread introduction of mobile working. Companies must therefore position themselves strategically, to be able to cope with the latent threats posed by digital change in the VUCA world. The “change process” with a precisely defined process plan and end date no longer exists. Rather, today everything is in constant change, without fixed boundaries. Change is thus becoming part of our culture. In order for employees in a company to be able to deal with it, the right mindset is needed.
So, if you want to make your company fit for the future, the main thing is to develop “resilience”.
What do we mean by resilience?
The term resilience originally comes from psychology and describes the resistance of a person, i.e. the ability to cope with change and also to survive difficult life situations without lasting impairments. According to the “Deloitte Global Resilience Report 2021”, 54% of the managers surveyed worldwide see “flexibility & adaptability” as the most important characteristic of the workforce for the future of the company.
The current pandemic situation has quickly shown where the problems of mobile work lie. Above all, the psychological strain on people, some of whom work in isolation in a home office, has become clearly visible. Resilient employees are able to react flexibly to the rapidly changing working and living conditions. They adapt their working methods and processes, including communication channels, on their own initiative.
The need to be resilient also applies to the entire company. In an economic context, we speak of “organisational resilience”. This is the ability of a company to react and adapt to changes. It is also able to anticipate future threats and opportunities and recognise its own vulnerabilities.
Thus, building a company’s future resilience is about two factors at the same time:
– the personal resilience of the employees
– the organisational resilience of the company
If the employees are not resilient, then it follows that the company cannot be either, since the employees, with their attitudes and skills, will form the basis for the company’s success and ability to survive in the future to a much greater extent than in historical organisational forms. The personal ability to see changes and threats as opportunities also strengthens the respective team through the growing importance of collaborative and interdisciplinary forms of work.
Occupational Health Management (OHM)
In this context, it makes sense to maintain and promote both the health of the individual and the health of the company. The importance of “occupational health management” (OHM) must be re-evaluated and strengthened accordingly. For the personal resilience, it is essential to create a sense of coherence. This means achieving a basic conviction that life is meaningful, and that one can master it successfully. This is the basis for being able to survive as a human being in this and future economic scenarios.
This applies to everyone in the company, including employees and their managers. The understanding of the manager’s role changes completely in agile organisational forms and must first be learned.
The successful experience of one’s own resistance resources based on this sense of coherence is characterised by:
– the consistency and comprehensibility of the work based on open and transparent communication and management
– the balance between high and low workloads, based on work-related and social resources
– participative leadership with meaningfulness of work demands and common goal pursuit
Imagine that the corporate culture functions like a lighthouse. It not only gives the employee orientation, but also strengthens the sense of belonging. This is especially important if the organisation is geographically dispersed and thus the bond to the brand and thus to the company is to be maintained. Working conditions have changed completely, but in many cases, people still behave as they did previously. A corporate culture that only exists in a glossy brochure is seen by people as mere lip service. Promises that are not kept result in a feeling of futility and thus work against resilience building.
The agile manager is in a new role that is unfamiliar to many managers. They are responsible for strategy development and the individual development of the employees. They must create the framework conditions that enable the team to implement the agile projects together with the resources and existing guidelines. The old culture of control must be transformed into a culture of trust for agile organisations to succeed.
Therefore, the following applies to the agile leader:
- They have a mindset that allows them to let go.
- They work participatively and in partnership with their team.
- They trust their employees and have a positive view of human nature.
- They put their employees first
- They communicate transparently
- They give regular feedback and demand it themselves (e.g. 360°)
- They lead their employees situationally
The other strategic fields of corporate development, such as production, technological security, innovation management, financial structure etc. are not part of this article, but it is important that all corporate divisions are part of the interdisciplinary agile teams and contribute their views.
Fear of new things is human, even if they are expected improvements, they initially meet change with rejection.
A resilience-oriented organisation gives employees and managers the necessary self-esteem and optimism to keep the company on track for success in the long term. Companies thus develop permanently into learning organisation.
Jörg Bakschas is an independent workspace specialist, change coach and design thinker. He is a member of several European committees working on standards for the office
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