Conscious companies: The challenge of transformation for businesses today

Note published on November 11 in El Economista, Capital Humano [Human Capital] Section by Blanya Correal Sarmiento.

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With the impetuous incursion of the pandemic, we became more conscious of the fact that the number of hours worked have nothing to do with the quality of the results. This is leading us toward a new organizational design, not only in regard to structures and positions, but also in regard to culture and leadership.

Talking about consciousness in an era in which speed, digitalization and transformation are mandatory characteristics in the world of business seems almost utopian, nevertheless, now more than ever, the world of business needs to delve into the human roots of its operation, because it is the only way for generating sustainability.

Consciousness is a by-product of organizational evolution. Just as human beings were programmed to survive at the beginning of our species, companies have undergone a similar phenomenon, which led us in the industrial age to maximize the effort to generate profits and, thus, exceed the point of economic equilibrium. However, a transformation that now presents in companies concepts relating to a new definition of work has been achieved little by little, this transformation strives to have an impact on the collaborator’s experience and on the only value that the company can offer him beyond his position and his compensation.

An example of this evolution can be seen today in the trend of the  regulations of many countries in regard to the reduction of working hours or in the increase of the number of vacation days, changes that show an urgent need for rest. Yes, just like it sounds, the business and working community has been in a race for productivity and efficiency for centuries. For decades, Taylorist paradigms installed in us a mentality of effectiveness linked to the amount of time worked, this is why cultures, such as the Latin American ones, have suffered particularly with the extension of the working hours, logging the longest hours in accordance with information by the OECD.

Then came the pandemic and it proved that the number of hours worked have nothing to do with the quality of the results. This is leading us, still very incipiently, toward a new organizational design, not only in regard to structures and positions, but also in regard to culture and leadership.

Therefore, the design of conscious organizations faces  three challenges that we will have to solve tactically in the next few years:

» 1. The alignment of actions, rewards and values

Does what your company does succeed in connecting people with a purpose of transcendental value? This sounds conceptual and even romantic, but the reality is that it is easier to get up in the morning to go to a job in which I feel that I am “saving the world” than simply going there and doing what I have to do.

In this sense, the areas of OD (organizational development) must challenge their creativity and that of their management teams to identify those factors that connect people to a clear “what for”. But not only in the rhetoric, the challenge lies in the actions, rewards and focus of the culture, being consistent with it.

» 2. Being productive versus being committed

Even though commitment definitively has an influence on productivity the former is not necessarily linked to the latter. Today reward and compensation systems may help in achieving superior performance, although this does not necessarily ensure that the connection of the collaborator with the company will be lasting, and we will probably have to learn to live with this.

Given this context, the areas of OD must add this variable of connection and retention to the talent inventory, without qualifying this as a negative element, but rather as one that can be planned previously to manage the continuity of the business.

» 3. Popularity-proof coherence

At a social moment in which it seems that everyone is on an electoral campaign, leaderships need a higher dose of authenticity and consistence to be able to succeed in having an organization that is truly driven by strong values. Today, the challenge of many teams lies in the small amount of horizontal collaboration, in the reliance on the highest performing people or even in the phenomenon of quiet quitting.

In this environment, the exercise of an honest and empathic leadership that is capable of maintaining a balance between the focus on the individual needs of the collaborators with consistence in the management of policies and guidelines becomes more important than ever.  In this sense, the task of OD will become even more complicated, it is no longer sufficient to develop massive leadership programs, more tailored solutions are required to address “specific cases” with a business perspective.

In the face of these three challenges, to name just a few, the task of the talent management areas in companies, above all those of the organizational development teams, becomes even more challenging and will be focused on the implementation of a consistent and solid human strategy.