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What’s keeping CEOs awake at night?

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What’s keeping CEOs awake at night?

In today’s complex global environment, there’s very little that business leaders can accurately predict and control, writes Praveen Rawal

As the business climate changed over time, so did the ways leaders needed to lead their organisations. Today, traditional hierarchy-based management practices, that may have guaranteed success in the past, might no longer work and that in turn, has opened up a sea of opportunities as well as an ocean of nightmares.

In today’s complex and global environment, there’s very little that business leaders can accurately predict and control. What’s keeping CEOs awake at night are not necessarily matters that should. Here are five reasons why leaders are burning the midnight oil.


Lack of Employee Engagement

Who doesn’t want a hard-working team with a positive attitude? Keep your employees engaged and the rest will follow. About 37 per cent — or one in three employees — are disengaged. At the opposite end of the spectrum, 34 per cent of workers are engaged, and 29 per cent are in the middle ground. Only 69 per cent of employees in India feel like they are able to choose where to work in the office based on the task. If your team is doing just enough to get by and avoid getting fired, that is an alarming concern. This can drag down teams and cost the company time, money, and opportunities.

The workplace should be designed to give employees choices and enable them to have a higher degree of control over their work experience. Wouldn’t it be great to have that kind of experience, at least most of the time, at work?


A Sense of Trust

Only 21 per cent of employees had a great deal of trust in their employer, and only 22 per cent had both a great deal of trust in their boss, their team, and colleagues. The global average was more than double of that. Gaining and retaining trust doesn’t come easy. Professionals today thrive in a culture of trust and empowerment. Fueled by an intrinsic motivation to solve sticky problems, they often seek an independent charter that would allow them to experience freedom in hiring and the exploration of new frontiers. Leaders at all levels, both within the innovative group and in the greater organisation, have the power to push boundaries when their work begins with trust. What’s challenging is to maintain this trust and loyalty, while also keeping intact the credibility of the organisation. 


Building a community

If a company is hierarchical and bureaucratic, it kills community. In startups, you often see that all the members of the team can relate to the purpose of the organisation, each person fully identifies with it, and they even know that their work may make or break it. To foster this kind of entrepreneurial spirit, where people feel they have responsibility and are accountable for results, is rare in larger organisations. It’s up to the CEOs to ensure that there is enough incentive for achieving the common objective.

Caught in a War of Talent

What some CEOs are realising is that they need to find new ways to combat the competition when they don’t really have the cash to constantly re-up against some of the well-resourced companies. Handling competition for talent while retaining existing talent is a growing concern. Many companies in India use cash as king to lure and keep people, leading to a boomerang effect. A company hires someone, they leave shortly thereafter for more money somewhere else and then return to the original company in a different, higher-paid role. The costs associated with the boomerang effect are not always sustainable. Understanding these workers and their impact is crucial to increase the ability to attract and retain talent in the workplace. Workplaces have shifted from local to global, connections to collaborations, from work or life to work-life balance.

Beating distance barriers

Creating environments to work across distance is highly challenging. For businesses, the new skill sets demanded today include the ability to successfully work across different locations, time zones, countries and cultures, to navigate distributed teamwork that is cross-functional, cross-cultural and cross-organisational. In today’s economic landscape, organisations can’t allow distance to be a barrier to effective teams. Fill in the missing gap which is optimising video technology in physical space and creating more options to build agility for remote workers.

While considering all of the above, physical space can help leaders reshape their organisation’s culture and performance overall. Creating human centered spaces in the midst of rapid change has a strong impact in a growing economy like ours. As our environment becomes more complex, the only way to a good night’s sleep is move from thinking about how to reengineer the organisation and think about how to reinvent it, over and over.

The writer is the Managing Director, Steelcase India and Southeast Asia




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