Mikko Kuitunen from Vincit shares his vision on how to excel at one of most vital sides of business — people and leadership.
MEANINGFULNESS IS THE KEY THING IN ATTRACTING NEW EMPLOYEES IN THE FUTURE
Work should have a purpose. People want to do things that generate value and they want to be a part of a bigger value chain. They also want to bring their whole person into the things they do and challenge and develop themselves – with interesting people around them and for good customers. In some business sectors, it is easier to fulfill these expectations than in others. When it comes to meaningfulness, it depends on the person what he or she perceives meaningful or valuable.
Some people for example value freedom of choice, leisure time, flexibility, or the possibility to use the best tools available, regardless of what kind of work is done. Some are eager to help others and this can be enabled for example with facilitated charity, such as allocating a part of the worktime for volunteering for a good cause.
Currently individualism, self-actualisation at work, project-based work, and self-employment are the main trends. People are also committing increasingly to people and teams, not to the employer organisation. But the employees should have the right collegial support for the specific matters in hand. Workmates are important, and through project-based work, employees can form their social networks more flexibly, depending on what succeeding in that job or task requires.
ONE OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES WE HAVE WITH MANAGEMENT CULTURE IN THE WESTERN COUNTRIES IS THAT ALL PEOPLE ARE TREATED IN THE SAME WAY
People easily make the wrong assumptions about somebody’s personal values, for example depending on his or her age. What matters is the experience, your own context, and the legacy you carry. Also, what is easily forgotten, is that people have different chapters in life. Just like companies have their own lifecycle. I believe that the next generation will change the way how these different chapters in life are seen. Alumni work for example, in which an employee temporarily works in another company and then returns, is one way of considering these chapters. Sometimes it is beneficial to work in another company for a while. This is still in its infancy in many countries and is perceived as betraying the employer, but in the USA for example, companies are investing in alumni possibilities.
In addition to treating people the same way, it’s still widely believed that your superior should be able to look over on your day-to-day work, help you with your development issues, be the one you report to, manage your time – and at the same time – have excellent people skills. I believe, that this person is a unicorn, something that does not exist. Your superior might not always be the right person to help you.
In Vincit, we have made a change towards a Leadership as a Service (LaaS) mindset. We help people to find the risks in their day-to-day work – what are the things that might prevent the employee to succeed and jeopardize customer satisfaction and/or employee satisfaction. These risks vary a lot. Some might have problems with getting enough sleep, some might need occupational coaching and so forth. When the risks are identified, we try to reduce the risk by arranging suitable services depending on the matter in hand. We have family coaching, nutritional coaching and a sleep school for children, just to name a few. And, even though we have a lot of services for employees to use, we save time and money.
THE WORLD IS TOO COMPLEX FOR ONE PERSON TO MASTER EVERYTHING
“On the employee’s side, it’s important to have self-management skills and take care of your own development. The organisations which will thrive will be the ones that realise that the system or the managers are not responsible for the employees. Instead, they are there for employees and they should concentrate on helping them.”
To achieve the independence of the system and to avoid fruitless development discussions, the same conversation can be initiated by the employee. In that way, the starting point of the development discussion is “You help me to develop myself”, not “I help you to develop yourself”. For example, in Vincit we have replaced obligatory development discussions with other services. In addition to self-management skills, having a systemic way of thinking is very important. A person who thinks in a systemic way, takes the wider systems into account. He or she sees that “us” is always much more important than “I”. The era of cowboy-type heroes and heroines is in the past. The world is too complex for one person to master everything. And no-one is better than the other. In this complex world, we need different kinds of people.
For the physical environment, the most important thing is that the workplace brings added value. Successful organisations also succeed in creating a workplace or a community that supports succeeding in work more than the sofa at home. And working from home is seen more as a possibility to be more productive with the same strain, or as productive with less strain.
People choose the organisation in which they want to work, depending on the image they have of it. Then, he or she finds out if the image matches the reality. But this requires that the person is aware of you and knows why you even exist. Therefore, I believe stories will be more and more important in growing that awareness.
- There is a growing trend of employees choosing employers based on perceived image, lifestyle, and value add, and employers need to attract future candidates with the right stories and message.
- Employees often pay more allegiance to teams and projects than the organisation and what they value about their work often changes over time. Successful organisations are often also successful in creating and sustaining a successful work-place community.
- New leadership styles are being adopted where the focus is providing support and where the employee takes responsibility for self-development.
The author is Satu Törmänen.