r10 recently held the first in a series of breakfast workshops, focusing on Shaping the Market of the Future. We launched with the theme of ‘The Future of Work in the London Market’, which participants described as ‘engaging’, ‘vibrant and interactive’ and illustrated ‘common challenges across the market’. What came through was the continued passion the attendees had for London Markets. It was a very positive and optimistic discussion with an enthusiasm to be harnessed and built upon.
Key themes included:
1. The future is already here and it continues to evolve.
There isn’t going to be a big go-live launch day where the Future of Work project is successfully delivered to London Markets. Incremental change and improvement are essential. At an individual level, we have embraced digitalisation in our personal lives but work doesn’t come close to matching this outside of pockets within organisations. This is often outside of company-wide initiatives and driven by the actions of individuals recognising that the pace of change is too slow so identifying what is under their control. Within the room, we talked about how our job title doesn’t reflect what we actually do, and in many instances, hasn’t existed for very long and certainly not when we set out in our careers. Adaptability was highlighted as one of the most important attributes to future-proofing careers and organisations. Saying ‘yes’ to new opportunities was discussed as a practical example of this approach, balanced with learning when, and how, to say no.
2. People underpin everything we do within our organisations.
No change programme will be a success without the needs of individuals being listened to and taken into account. We need to do much more listening to people’s fears and individual motivations so that they can perform at their best at work. It’s not just about painting a picture of the future and telling people to get onboard. The needs of those in the middle were highlighted as often being ignored as they neither fall into the senior leadership category nor are seen as ‘the future’ despite probably having more of their working life ahead than behind them as retirement grows ever further away. They have often experienced the most change through their career and in their personal lives, have a lot of offer and great ideas on how to improve the way in which they work. Participants shared examples of how they’ve been able to harness this latent talent internally, creating collaborative teams of differing experience but with shared goals.
3. We all have a role to play.
This isn’t about just about top-down change, waiting for others to sign off budgets or seeing because it’s people-related, it is HR’s problem to solve. It is about being the change we want to see. Empowering the people we work with. Understanding their skills and motivations, giving guidance and encouragement to be the best they can be and continuing to develop. We talked of the challenge of poor people management, especially when being good at a technical role is rewarded by a promotion to manage people, without an assessment of capability nor further support on how to perform.
4. People want to be happy.
And if they’re not happy, they won’t hang around. Or worse, remedial action to treat the symptoms of poor mental wellbeing will continue as people are broken down by their experience within the workplace. Just like life, careers aren’t linear and take many different forms. It is important that we are honest about our culture. We shouldn’t use buzzwords because they are fashionable because people cannot do their jobs effectively if their experience does not match their expectations. We need to be realistic and open, allowing people to make informed decisions about the organisations that will allow them to perform at their best. Attraction is the comparatively easy bit as it’s about words. Retention is the challenge because it involves organisational culture and lived experience. If the culture does not match the people you want to hire, the culture needs to change first. We talked about the importance of trust to the individual to perform but in also liberating management from feeling they need to know all the answers in order to tell others what to do.
We look forward to keep the conversation going and developing a forum for focused output on the way we adopt and adapt to market change. Do get in touch if you wish to take part in future events, with others who share this enthusiasm and are already delivering within their own organisations.
Author: Beth Cooper