The Big Reinvent!
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The Great Resignation has gotten a lot of attention. Partly as a consequence of the pandemic-related changes in the workplace, and partly as a result of factors that had been accumulating in people's attitudes about work for years prior to the epidemic.
For a long time, we've witnessed the signs of the Great Resignation. Reduced employee engagement and satisfaction, systematic performance declines, increased levels of voluntary turnover, and shorter tenures are all signs that something is wrong.
We, as leaders, have contributed to much of the issue. The great commoditization of talent has occurred, with individuals being seen as widgets that can be readily replaced by another widget. We're doing all we can to automate labor, which eliminates creativity, intellect, judgment, and trust.
We've gone too far in being too prescriptive about how things should be completed. Knowledge employees will no longer be required to have "knowledge."
New generations, on the other hand, have different aspirations than prior generations (though I'm not sure I believe this.) Life was crammed into whatever time you had outside of work under our parents' generation's idea of work/life balance.
Then work/life balance grew more vital, and what we did outside of work became just as important as what we did at work. And Gen Zs bring with them a distinct set of expectations–about life in general, not just work.
As a consequence, our conventional work and engagement paradigms are obsolete and becoming more ineffective.
Much of what we had previously noticed in altering views around employment has been reinforced by the Pandemic. Add to it the burnout many people experience as a result of working more while feeling more alienated.
All of this leads to the Great Resignation, and experts are wringing their hands, unsure of what will happen next in the workplace. And far too many are portraying a bleak image.
On the other side, I'm quite upbeat. I believe we are on the verge of the Great Reinvention, rather than the Great Resignation! And I can't think of a more exciting moment to participate in this!
What fuels my optimism? Simply said, we've gone through similar cycles previously and come out stronger each time. What we're going through reminds me of a gently swinging pendulum. A pendulum reaches its extreme point at some point, and gravity forces a change–a correction. The pendulum begins to swing in the other way.
Similarly, we go through cycles. When we reach the apex of a cycle, the "systems" that are intended to keep things running break down, and we begin to go in a new direction, correcting the imbalance/dissonance that caused it.
I believe we've arrived at a turning moment in the commercial world. We've put a lot of emphasis on company mechanization and automation. We've misapplied AI/ML and technology, and as a result, we've lost a lot of "humanity" in our relationships with one another, our customers, partners, suppliers, and communities. And it's collapsing because the people we were trying to degrade were humans.
Different models that detect humans are falling in favor of collapsing models.
We've realized that the organization's goal isn't only to maximize shareholder profit. Instead, we're understanding that it's via these human relationships that we generate and drive growth–and so profit for shareholders. At work, we're seeing a greater emphasis on purpose, value, culture, and creating meaning.
We're starting to realize that aligned identities—individual, functional, and organizational—are critical to our development and performance. We know that the idea of identity goes beyond our companies to our customers–we identify with others around similar topics and prefer to trust and do business with individuals with whom we share components of our identities. Our partners, suppliers, and the communities in which we operate are all in the same boat.
Everything we accomplish is forced to be re-evaluated/re-assessed by the Great Resignation. People will be pushed to work in environments where they desire to learn, develop, and contribute. People are attracted to groups with similar identities because they are seeking for meaning and purpose.
This may not be a significant shift for certain firms. They have built meaningful work and settings where people want to work, where they are respected, listened to, and can develop and learn. We've seen a lot of these models, and they're usually from "Great" companies.
We have a fantastic chance to reinvent the nature of work and how companies and individuals collaborate to accomplish common goals and objectives.
We are confronted with a great Reinvention, not a great Resignation!