The way we work together is evolving at such a pace that it is important to reflect on the learnings. The pandemic brought with it significant logistical and technological changes that continue to reshape the workplace as we head into 2022, and each of us has our own unique experience of that change.
Which is why I turned to my network on LinkedIn to hear their biggest insights on the future of work. The responses were thoughtful, astute and inspiring. Here, I’ve listed as many as I could fit into a blog and paired them with the most helpful Trailhead modules for a productive 2022 – no matter where you are working from.
My own biggest lesson from this year is about listening. Particularly as a leader, when we’re not next to each other in the office, it is even more important to listen to a fellow team member, to learn about what is going on in their mind.
Here is what our community had to share.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway is that 2021 has placed new emphasis on what’s human. In times of great flux, the best leadership
is grounded in our shared humanity, as it enables meaningful decision-making and impactful action.
Empathy was always important, but the dial has been turned up these past few years with work and home life colliding in the hybrid workplace. Karin Flores, Vice President Strategic Events, Customer Experience Center and Programs at Okta, encapsulates why the need for empathy has skyrocketed saying “Learning to balance work life and home life has never been more important, especially since the two have collided for many of us. As a leader, I have learned that it's important to listen to your team and understand where they are in their journey”.
In fact leading with empathy is “absolute hygiene for any leader in this work-from-anywhere world”, an insight I agree with from Wendy Walker, Senior Director Marketing Asia Pacific at Salesforce.
As leadership is constantly evolving, we are also learning along the way. In the digital-first environment, many leaders have had to step into new mentoring roles, in flux and all online.
To help leaders learn new insights and to begin with empathy, we have designed a learning module to build empathetic leadership in business.
This Trailhead module helps leaders to navigate communication with team members amidst change. You can find practical tips on how to make your one-on-one meetings meaningful and help to balance your workload with your colleagues. We have included tangible ways to support your team members to work with their strengths, interests and the business goals.
Upender Rao, Manager of Global Business Services at Salesforce highlights the importance of sensitivity, diversity, and inclusivity. Both to cultural sensitivity and forgiveness of cultural stumbles, saying “We need a tad more sensitivity interacting with other cultures. We can't know everything about every culture. If you don't know - just ask. For the recipient - be forgiving if the speaker doesn't understand your culture.”
Salesforce is committed to driving equality within our own community and beyond. We are on a path to cultivating a workplace that reflects our communities, to create an environment where everyone feels valued, heard, and has a sense of belonging. As a leader, I am proud to share our approach to equality.
We also believe that it is our higher purpose to create a world where everyone has equal rights, equal pay, equal access to education, and equal opportunities to succeed. We are working together with our entire community—customers, partners, employees, industry, and so on—to build a path forward.
More and more business leaders are seeing that cultivating equality is not just the right thing to do, but also the smart thing. Infact, employees who feel their voice is heard at work are nearly five-times more likely to perform their best work.
We are naturally social creatures, so we have developed a module on how to cultivate equality at work.
One of my favourite insights on the humanity imperative is “The role of laughter – at ourselves, at each other and at the situation. We get so caught up in the daily grind and this year wouldn’t have been survivable without the LOLs.” Summed up so clearly by Leah Jackson, Head Of Digital Marketing at Goodman Fielder.
Complimenting the need for empathy is the importance of kindness and its role in fostering equality, as Salesforce Marketing Director Andrew Ward put: “I feel many of us have learnt to be a little kinder to each other. I love the idea of linking kindness to results or outcome orientation in the long term.”
It’s no surprise that a hot topic of conversation was just how different our work lives look in comparison to just two years ago. Calibrating this difference can be hard, because just as you think you’ve become used to the way things work, they shift again!
Shahin Hoda, the Founder of xGrowth reiterated the importance of aligning your people with your business goals. For maximum impact, you want business vector alignment, this means creating a great culture to attract top talent, who then go out of their way to make a great experience for your customers. He added that “How result-oriented an organisation and its business units are is going to make or break future organisations.” Going on to say that “business vector alignment - has always been important.”
Brent Ombler, Senior Business Analyst at Commonwealth Bank of Australia added that deep listening is pivotal, to hear what is being communicated, especially in a hyper distributed, or hybrid, working environment. He adds that “it's more important now than ever to ensure that the communication channels are made available, and their usage continually encouraged.”
Sarah Hargreaves, Marketing Director, Demand Generation at Salesforce, had some thoughts on the subject, particularly on trust and the use of Slack:
Essentially, work can happen at all hours of the day. So how do leaders stay in touch with team members across the globe? An easy answer is to set up a Slack channel to get out of the inbox, and into a dynamic virtual team environment. Stay across the project no matter your time-zone by working with Slack
Like trust, fostering team engagement is a big one as we move through 2022. Steve Elmore, Director of Advisory at Fresh Consulting shared insights into the importance of leaders’ EQ in the era of the great resignation. “Many organizations no longer have the stickiness of location as remote working becomes more the norm. Opportunities are no longer geographically bound. This places an increased burden on leaders to be more than they have been before.”
Leaders will need to shift their approach to combat the great resignation. CEO Salesforce ANZ & ASEAN Pip Marlow recently spoke to the Australian Financial Review on the opportunities facing Australian companies with her view to forget the great resignation, we are ready for the great realignment.
At Salesforce, we believe that our people, from individual contributors to top executives, are our greatest resource and the reason for our success. To keep your team motivated and create a great place to work, you can follow the trail on employee engagement to find why engagement matters.
Employees are looking for more flexibility, opportunity and to create work that has meaning. Virtual working has accelerated rapidly, and there is always more to learn. If you want to add in some new ways of working, then follow the remote work tips Trailmix.
The importance of mindset, balance and wellbeing is growing in the workplace. Effective leaders aim to balance stress in their own day as well as motivate others to achieve goals together. Equipping people with the resources to thrive is essential, particularly with the challenges we are facing. In fact, we have an entire series on the Wellness Playbook
designed as a leader's guide to employee wellbeing.
Ian Gotts, CEO of Elements.cloud’s reminds us to stay curious, to not take ourselves too seriously because “humour is the best medicine but also accelerates connections and trust”.
David Barzilay, Senior Growth Strategist from Five Faces responded from the heart when he told us he’d learned to appreciate change. For him that means “not just being reactively adaptable, but understanding and appreciating the fact that change is the only constant in our lives, like it or not. So, we may as well start enjoying it.”
I encourage my team to embrace the power of mindfulness to reduce stress and create peace and joy in the day. You can connect to your inner mindfulness practices with the World Meditation Day
This one strikes a chord with me - it is the power of radical honesty - for me, giving feedback is a gift.
Archana Sinha, Senior Director Corporate Marketing at Salesforce shares about "promoting a culture of radical honesty. Ensuring that as a leader you keep the team informed and aware and make sure information flow is seamless at all times. Being vulnerable and sharing when you don't have all the answers is extremely important in the world of tomorrow. Sharing your vulnerability when you may need downtime or when you may not be at your best also encourages the team to be open about wellness and mental health.”
This has been an illuminating exercise for me to listen to your insights from this year. I have thoroughly enjoyed the sense of community that has emerged from this thread. As we are all evolving to the changing landscape, it is important to keep sharing the lessons and insights along the way.
Thanks for the fantastic reflections provided by everyone - there were too many to list, so if you’d like to check out some of the other insights, head here to see my original post.
Once again, I’d like to thank all who took the time to share their unique takes on the future of work, teamwork, and the hybrid workplace. If these contributions are any indication, the 2022 landscape is looking brighter than ever and I look forward to walking it with all of you.
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