The Future Workforce: How Leaders Can Make or Break a Company

by Pranav Ramesh
March 03, 2021
How Manager Can Make or Break a Company

Russel used to be the Vice President of a renowned banking and financial services company in the Greater Chicago area. When the pandemic hit the markets hard in March 2020, Russel’s firm faced challenges in transitioning to remote work due to logistical and security constraints. While other leaders took HR direction on offering flexibility to their employees, Russel felt that he could make it work without too much disruption to the way things were. With regular sanitization and social distancing rules in place, Russel felt he was taking all the necessary precautions and that his team could continue its normal operations without the flexible work model.

Staying hyper-focused and vigilant on keeping his clients from leaving for his competitors, Russel did not notice the growing distress and decreased engagement within his team. Without paying attention to his employees’ changing needs with schools going remote and increased domestic responsibilities, Russel was blindsided when some of the best performers handed over their resignations. Despite a fragile job market with record unemployment, these employees were unwilling to work for an organization and a leader who chose to prioritize profit over employee experience and safety. Those who chose to stay showed lower performance while employee morale sunk drastically.

Unfortunately for Russel, despite all the precautions he had set in place, the pandemic hit home when one of his employees tested positive. This affected 20 more coworkers who had exposure to their colleague, at which point Russel had no option but to shut down the office and go into quarantine. The team was affected in more ways than just morale and the bottom line. Before the end of the year, Russel had no choice but to resign.

Russel’s story is not uncommon among certain leaders across the country. When the pandemic posed a threat to their businesses, they took a short-term approach that did not prioritize the team. This failure to look at the long game is a key factor in leaders missing the mark when obstacles arise.

What could Russel have done differently to equip himself and his team for the ‘new normal’ and rise up to a different kind of success?

Let’s take a look.

Foster Employee Engagement

Instead of ignoring the employees’ fears and inhibitions, he should have spoken to them first to understand their thoughts about the situation.

It’s time for leaders to prioritize human connections and relationships. Though investing in technology is necessary, working towards shaping an emotionally intelligent workforce is still a key indicator of success. The people who can truly make a difference are those who can think, collaborate, compete, create, and innovate. Driving growth is easier and more impactful when it is supported by personalized experiences of the employees who can buy into the organization’s big picture.

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Establish Autonomy

Instead of trying to handle everything on his own, he should have split the responsibilities with the budding leaders within the team.

Establishing autonomy plays a significant role in attracting and retaining talent. Most organizations experience a gap between their goals and achievements because they fail to match tasks with competent talent. Delegating work to the right employees and giving them more responsibilities will not ensure accountability and build trust among employees. They will also be more driven to make better decisions that align with the team as well as the organization.

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