I monitor the business news daily, weekly, and there are announcements from organizations making “radical” changes in workforce design, workplace design, and work. COVID-19 has accelerated to warp speed versus what was a glacial transition to the 3 W’s [Work, Workplace, and Workforce}

Coming to an organization near you

There was also an article about the company that instituted a policy that no one is to be contacted while on vacation. Another company banned Zoom calls on Monday and Friday and none after work hours.

The thinking behind these concepts makes sense. We have become tethered to technology that we feel that we have to have to be on 24/7.

Some of the other “employee-friendly” policies I found post-COVID-19 show that we need to rethink the way we do business. This list could go on and on, and we know that these perks are not one size fits all.

Bye-bye Industrial Age-Hello New Age

The walls of the Industrial Age management are slowly crumbling. This is aided by the fact that not only are the organizations changing, but the new worker mindset is already there waiting for their companies to come along.

Workplaces today are embracing innovation, new technology, diversity, and inclusion to build sustainable success. The linchpin that drives these innovative efforts depends on the quality of leadership, culture, and management practices at all levels of the organization. Each one must play a part in the change required to achieve these aspirations.

The organizations that are leading this charge realize that all these initiatives require thinking and doing things in different ways from what has been done in our relatively slow-changing and disconnected Industrial Age past. The challenge ahead is to unwind more than a century of Industrial Age thinking about work – mindsets that are controlling, mistake-averse, and “know it all,” and evolve them into ones that are enabling, learning, and willing to try new things and fail.

The notion of worker versus manager is outdated, and a collaboration between these two is needed to move forward with a new agenda.

The primary drivers of the Industrial Age were equipment and capital, and that was what was important. Employees were seen as necessary but replaceable. Thus the term “hired hands” or “warm bodies” was born.

The primary driver’s post covid has shown that the Industrial Age mindset is a relic, and EVERYTHING HAS TO BE RETHOUGHT.

Management knows best?

Whatever our systems and processes, they were conceived at an earlier time. Recruiting, hiring, training, and performance reviews all came along as organizations grew.

Communications were top-down, if at all. Managers and bosses had all the answers. It was “my way or the highway.” Employees were not considered a part of the process in any way.

Our job descriptions force us, in a lot of cases, to try to fit a square peg into a round hole. The manager of this era saw his people as employees and subordinates.

Some of the companies mentioned earlier do not refer to their people as employees; you hear different terms such as associates, partners, etc. Today people want to be treated as part of the process and not just a cog in the wheel.

Controlling vs releasing

The Industrial Age mindset is one of controlling while the modern era is more about empowering people to achieve their highest potential. Survival in this extremely competitive economic era demands that our people be allowed to bring forth their unique contribution. Isn’t that is what we hired them for?

Bottom line: we manage THINGS, but THINGS don’t have the freedom to choose. We lead PEOPLE who do have the power to choose.

Unleashing the potential of this age will require a fundamental break with the control paradigm. It will require leaders to embrace what the late Dr. Steven Covey referred to as “The Whole Person Paradigm.”

Connect with your people, and you will reach new heights. Fail to connect with them, and all the ills of the workplace will camp at your door.

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