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Trust is the new black.

Updated: Dec 2, 2021

Outcome Based Remuneration and Leadership

Now we are at a time in history where many ways of doing things that have been largely unchanged for decades, need to be reviewed and the “Why” has never been more important.

One of these new key factors for both senior leadership and boards to consider, is how to motivate and reward the workforce generations now and those coming through - how to create sustainability with employee loyalty in a new world order.

The status quo 1990-2020…

If you are in your 40’s, 50’s or 60’s you probably still have deep within you, a workplace control mindset. The mindset of a manager.

It’s how we were raised, educated and our work life has largely followed the pattern of 9-5, 8-6, and a greater than 40 hour working week equals a great employee contribution.

We make jokes about the “water cooler conversations” “corridor decisions” and have long tolerated the chatter around the offices. Employees put in 40 hours, in their cattle pen or clustered around a tabletop trying to focus. Commuting for hours daily and rushing from meeting room to meeting room. Taking them on “team dinners” when 50% or more would rather be at home, are tired and feel obligated to attend.

Then came pressure on real estate footprints, cost of premises and fit outs, so we pushed people into working corral style in pens (better designed for intensive farming, than creativity and innovation), their spaces got smaller.

We placed up to 10 people crammed around “open concept” team tables and expected them to be able to focus, to be productive - even in highly sensitive areas like programming, architecture or cybersecurity.

Meeting rooms then came at a premium as people needed to have discussions on specific topics and make meaningful decisions without distraction - so the pressure returned on real estate. That became too expensive - so people used the opportunity to take meetings, particularly those with external parties outside. Hence the coffee shop boom of the past decade or so.

However, we still expected people to arrive somewhere between 0700 and 0900 and depart late afternoon, early evening. We still had a clock on clock off mentality, better suited to a manufacturing line than an office. Employees and even leaders were not empowered with the very powerful human motivator - trust.

Trust that however they wished to arrange their work day, they would deliver the desired outcome on time within budget.

The pandemic 2020-2021…….

Enter this crazy insanity, a dynamic new world order in which we are required to lead motivate and govern our businesses. We have no memory or training, on how to do this and it all happened in a heartbeat.

Most enterprises, rapidly adapted - digital transformation that had been resisted and put on slow burn was accelerated - and guess what - The Wheels didn’t fall off!!

Sadly, tools were quickly released for managers that couldn’t, or wouldn’t, envision and embrace a new world and learn to empower with trust and defined expectations.

Some organisations and agencies keep trying to bring everyone back to the office - wearing masks and feeling very uncomfortable and isolated - commuting again. One CEO told me “its better for the employees” but couldn’t answer the “why”

Unfortunately, those Boards and C suite, have opened the cloak and demonstrated that they are incapable or unwilling to embrace trust - that they belong to the world of status quo. Those companies are generally seeing lagging performance, mental health issues draining staff performance, creativity and innovation thus decreasing the care factor of employees. The result is of course poor corporate or agency performance.

We may no longer do in 2021 what we did as Leaders in 2018. We need to embrace change in how we engage and motivate our teams to be high performers and lead the way to a new trust with clearly defined outcomes.

The future 2021 and beyond……..

Boards should now be counselling their leadership teams to lead and govern solely based on defined and agreed outcomes. These outcomes should have two levels - the big rocks that outline the goals and metrics the C suite needs to meet, and the garden of productivity which takes those rocks, incorporates process and policy that encourages trust and allows the creativity of thought to generate a compatible outcome. The creation of a perfect space, like a zen garden.

The future of truly great leadership lies in leaders (and directors) ability to create trust, and demonstrate that trust from the top down. Allow all those whose jobs do not rely on a central feeder to deliver required outcomes based on hard and soft goals - clear metrics. Allow workers to choose how and when they work, within reason, remove proximity as a condition of employment and open up your talent pool to a larger and more experienced audience. Attract the best, pay them well based on their delivery and trust them to do what they need to do to deliver that outcome.

Boards need to guide, mentor and govern their leadership teams in clear goal setting with understandable metrics as deliverables, right through the organisation. Starting with the Boards attitude to the CEO and their direct reports.

Costs are easily managed, and more predictable. Costs will actually decrease as real estate costs plummet, less travel, less stress, management layers are reduced, less sick leave, highly motivated workforce becomes more responsible for their own decision making.

Existing reduced foot print real estate can become collaboration hubs, where people can meet for an hour or a day when necessary - eventually these can be distributed across the nation, region or globe into smaller centres where employee numbers are such that cross functional relationships can be built by desire - not by “force”

Trust is the new black - in this new world of pandemic disorder and millennials entering the workforce - outcome based leadership is the only way to be a top performer in any industry.


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