The NextGen Team
September 11, 2023
min read
Management & Governance

A Caring Mindset to Remain Responsive

The Next Generation Company reveals key points on how to better your organization through trust, autonomy and managerial skills. In this excerpt, we touch on what are key points to keep in mind to remain responsive within an organization. 

Openness towards others and recognizing them as equals

This willingness to open up and recognize the other as an equal is a strong demand from employees in these enterprises. A major concern, according to consultant Josh Bersin, is that "most people come to work expecting to be able to express their essential aspirations at work and build their career. If they like their job, they're happy.

However, they want to be rewarded for that and recognized for their success, by paying them a salary, giving them career advancement, celebrating their success, and being caring in short."

In the case of failure, benevolence is more necessary than ever. It is at the heart of the culture of lifelong learning, as we will see in the next subchapter. A culture of caring is absolutely essential to ensure that the deployment of new shared-decision governance methods does not lead to disaster. This prerequisite is essential. 

Developing an enterprise culture that emphasizes caring and openness is not just a vehicle for personal growth. According to LRN’s 2016 HOW Report24, organizations where trust and openness reign supreme "experience eleven times more innovation than organizations where trust is low." Trust fuels vulnerability and risk-taking far more than innovation programs alone ever could.

Benevolence is an unparalleled performance gas pedal. Claude Philoche is perfectly convinced of this. Started in 2015, the cultural change in which the 600 employees of the Business Innovation & Oversight department within ENGIE's Global Energy Management business unit - for which he is responsible - are engaged, had a complicated start, not being certain of where to initiate the change. Faced with the immensity of the task, Claude Philoche took a long time to understand that the change started with him. Faced with all the tensions he perceived in a situation that was creating difficulties, he gradually assimilated that it was within him that "the doors remained to be opened, the paths to be explored". Once he had taken care of himself, once he had learned to listen, things would flow naturally as a result.

Claude Philoche found valuable support in the EVH association, a network of leaders whose motto and purpose are revealing: "Towards a living enterprise by and for living women and men." Thanks to the association, he has learned a lot. The exchanges and meetings he had there were enriching for him. These leaders had the same experiences as he did and faced the same problems.

24 LRN, How Report, op. cit.

He readily admits that the first year of this transformation represented a real "journey through the looking-glass" for him as well as for the team. In addition to the upheaval of cultural habits, the main challenge was to find the right balance, to set the right speed for this movement and, above all, to prove to senior management that "transformation through trust was a strategic performance lever". 

💡 Article pick: How to Give Constructive Feedback Within Teams?

Best practices with Holaspirit

Trust in people... even if they constitute the service offering. This seems to be the mantra of Manpower, which refuses to place its human capital on a temporary basis with a customer, without placing full and complete trust in the desires that the latter expresses. The whole purpose of the "Talent Agents" program concocted by Manpower is to entrust each of its temporary employees with finding his own outlet, his own home. 

The leading temporary staffing company conducted a 43-country survey called "Talent Shortage-2018." The study found that 29% of French employers were unable to find the talent they needed. This rate was 23% three years earlier. ManpowerGroup felt that it was urgent to help identify these talents - people who have a rare competence at the level of an employment area. 

Detecting potential and developing it if necessary to ensure the employability of candidates, the "Talent Agents" program was launched very quickly. The communication campaign was inspired by the image of the impresario and the artist, highlighting the values of creativity and autonomy. In 2019, no less than 37,000 talents have been identified, with the target raised to 50,000. Manpower assures them a 75% employment rate. The program amplifies Manpower's supply-side policy. No longer waiting for a customer to make its needs known, but relying on temporary workers with high added value to offer their services. An approach that allows for higher prices, better remuneration for talent, and satisfaction for all! 

Benevolence feeds benevolence and attracts talent. Robbert Brouwer, who has been working at INDI for two years, has made this observation crystal clear. Coming from a hierarchical organization, he was won over by the spirit of the place. "That's also the reason I applied here,” he admits.

“After seeing how things were done, my interest was piqued:I started working for INDI without really having a clear idea of the job...! The openness, the pleasure people take in working... I'd never seen that anywhere else, and God knows how many enterprises I've worked for!"

💡 Article pick: How To Instil Self-Advocacy in Employees and Build Stronger Teams in the Process

Benevolence to attract talent

Benevolence not only attracts talent but also retains it... If employees are radically opposed to these new methods of governance, there is no point in trying to keep them. On the other hand, flexibility and benevolence are the key words to help them acclimate to self-governance. It is necessary to do everything to train and make people feel comfortable.

Matthias Hallmann explains that when employees at Springest started to use the new governance methods, he expected people to be self-regulating, active, and to participate in meetings in order to raise the problems they encountered. 

However, "some high-performing people were not adapting well to our new way of working”, he recalls. “They were not at their best, which meant that they were often less happy, taking less pleasure in their work. In these cases, we had to embrace their needs, listen to them, give them all the necessary keys, and, above all, let them be who they are. This way, it happens that some of them break the rules of governance a little and we give them that freedom."

Furthermore, listening to your employees can lead to nice surprises and trusting them can lead to nice savings. Harvard Business School professor and consultant John Kotter tells a particularly memorable story in this regard. "The assistant to a senior executive at one of our major clients provided their organization with one of its greatest success stories. This employee came up with an amazing idea that has had a dramatic financial impact and is now generating millions of dollars in revenue for the enterprise each year! Amazingly, she had this idea for years. Why on earth did she wait all this time before sharing it? In fact, she did, but no one seemed to be listening: after all, she was just the assistant to a high-level executive." Treating people simply as equals can pay off big. This mindset, central to our next generation enterprise culture, is sorely lacking in hierarchical enterprises. 

John Kotter then continues his terribly revealing story. "A potential client wanted to talk to this person as part of their inside sales process. So a board meeting was held in which they called her. The leader of this enterprise immediately realized that he was not talking to an alter ego, a manager, but to an executive assistant. He fell off his chair. This leader confessed to me that he had the bad reflex to think that she did not belong on his board of directors. He realized that he was reacting exactly the same way as the leaders who had not been listening in his former enterprise." John Kotter thus concludes that it is "hard to change mindsets and instill a culture of caring, equality, and listening!"

It is true that leaders, because of their background in hierarchical enterprises, sometimes face enormous difficulties when they try to adopt this culture of management by trust. Integrating the fact that the other person's word is worth as much as theirs is the end of the world for some. However, refusing to come down from one's pedestal is particularly counterproductive. 

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