The leadership - workforce relationship is broken
In previous generations leading teams in organisations used to be a lot simpler. Senior management would set the strategic objectives, direct and discipline, middle management would implement the plan and the workforce would deliver. Everybody understood that success came from hard work and dedication and doing what you were told. The winners were those who put the most in and operated the most efficiently.
Except, of course it was never really like that. And today, more than ever, that perceived smooth and consensual relationship between an organisation’s leaders and workforce is breaking all around us. The symptoms are everywhere and are felt throughout an organisation; from individuals’ absenteeism, to loss of talent and experience through churn, all the way up to reduced profitability and market value. Even the winners are losing and there are some common areas where many organisations must look to transform their behaviour and regain their flow.
Today’s workforce has changed, and leadership must change with it. The traditional entry levels into an organisation, the promotional opportunities and the hierarchy no longer appear as they used to. With 5 different generations within the workforce co-existing within different structural levels, organisations are going through this change. The expectation of Leadership from Millennials is really mixing it up. Whilst this makes the landscape exciting, it also creates tension between the workforce and the leadership teams and conflict and burn out from employees at all levels is being experienced at a rate of knots. The relationships need improving.
Leaders must now work harder than ever to improve how they communicate with their workforce; to understand and shape the culture in the workplace. Looking beneath the status quo reveals that many organisations’ workforce appears broken; displaying a lack of buy in and at worst palpable tension and resentment within the leadership team. To improve this perception and everyone’s working experience Leaders must facilitate better working environments, practices and attitudes that are adaptable to change creating a higher sense of belonging and a stronger state of resilience. Crucially they must harness the strengths of each different individual generation, foster relationships and interact cooperatively. They must become a new breed of leader and forget what they learned before.