Preparing and Managing Your Team in the “New Normal”

Posted by Joseph Sherren on January 2, 2018

Although 2018 is looking very optimistic on many fronts, we are still experiencing the effects of uncertainty in some areas.  This past year, we faced political anxiety, a polarization of viewpoints, financial failures, earthquakes, droughts, fires, floods, and myriad other crises; and there are no signs that it will end anytime soon.  We may even be on the brink of war in several regions.

Another trend disrupting most businesses is the new and diverse workforce, filled with young and not-so-young people.  Each group brings different ideologies about how people should be managed and which organizational cultures work best.  They have different loyalties, desire more engagement, and are intolerant of the autocratic management styles of most traditional companies.

I talk with many business owners and executives wondering when this constant churn will stop – and we can all get back to “normal.”  Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening in the immediate future.

We are in a “new normal,” and for managers, that requires new reasoning.  I call it “new normal thinking” where we really don’t know for sure what is going to work. What has worked in the past may work in the new normal  ̶  but, more likely it won’t.

Managers must be amenable to doing things differently to achieve better results.  Yet, there is an inherent problem: most managers are recognized and rewarded for their successes and behaviors from the past – and it is incredibly difficult to let go of that paradigm. They can be heard saying:

It worked before  ̶  why shouldn’t it work now?

These are the typical effects of conditioning as I have written about in past articles.

In this new normal, the rules have changed.  The economy has changed.  Buying structures and methods have changed.  More significantly, expectations of how people want to work have changed.  As a result, managers are quickly discovering that their former actions and decision-making which created success, promotions, and recognition are less effective in this new normal.

Managers with the most collaborative styles will end up with employees who are more productive and engaged. Teams which are encouraged to work together by using social media and their networking skills will generate thriving organizations going forward.

It’s human nature to continue doing what has worked before.  No one likes to “fail,” so we model past activities – the proven strategies and techniques –  and hope it will continue to make us prosperous in this new normal.  Unfortunately, it probably won’t.  Managers must be amenable to trying new and different approaches to adapt to the changing environment.

Is there one individual in your organization who knows the exact right approach?  Probably not  ̶  no matter their position.  Success now depends on engaging a team of diverse people coming up with many ideas that are tried, tested, and evaluated.

To encourage this mentality, organizations will need a special kind of culture – a culture where people are naturally trusted to just do the right and ethical thing, without constant and direct supervision.

In the new normal, employees will not be micro-managed.  In fact, most will be working in teams, often from home or other virtual locations which will make old-style supervision impossible.  Ultimately, it will be the organization’s fundamental ethics, values, culture, and vision that will guide decision-making and actions.

Working strategically to build and maintain a great culture means training employees how to incorporate those values into every choice they make. Doing this will build your reputation today and result in better decisions, happier employees, and success for tomorrow.

My question for managers:

How are you preparing your organization for managing in the “new-normal?”

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