Where’s the Love?

The new world order of business is rewriting the social contract between organizations and employees.

Shifts in Employee Responsibility:

Death of Permanence: What got us here won’t get us there.

Guarantee of Lifetime Employment: Your value to your organization is relative. While you may be indispensable today, that’s no guarantee of how you, your skills or your contributions will be viewed tomorrow.

Rise of Self-Directed Development:  By the time a freshman in business graduates, what they’ll learn in their freshman and sophomore years will be largely irrelevant to the business environment they’ll be entering. More than ever before, it’s not what you’ve learned, but your ability TO learn and deal with ambiguity that will drive your career.

At this point you may be thinking, where’s the love?  Why has all the responsibility moved to me? You may feel like employees ‘drew the short straw’ in this new deal. And you wouldn’t be alone.

However, employers are facing some pretty big challenges of their own…

Shifts in Employer Responsibility:

Oh Won’t You Stay Just a Little Bit Longer: If organizations aren’t willing to offer lifetime employment, employees are always going to have an ear to the ground for other potential opportunities. Recruiting the best talent and engaging them in work that fills their hearts and minds, as well as their pocketbooks, is a far cry from the days of show-up, shut-up and do-it-our-way.

Development in the Age of Self-Development: Among the most difficult challenges for organizational designers, strategists and human resource professionals is determining how to support the development of people largely tasked with their own development.  While the perfect answer has yet to be found, our research shows two universals do apply:

  1. Focus on Strategic Objectives: Every effort, every class, every learning opportunity must be focused on how to connect individual contributions to the overarching organizational goals. The bigger the organization, the more difficult this task becomes.
  2. Keep Development Efforts Centralized: It is great to have cross-functional teams, to co-develop solutions with customers and to empower departmental leaders to drive their business as they see fit — BUT — always remember that the stable link between organizational goals and individual action is built and maintained through your learning and development efforts. Resist the temptation to fragment the effort by allowing multiple individual and potential conflicting programs to spring up. Keep it central and bring your learning and development personnel to the strategic table – they are the catalysts that will turn strategy into action.

As always, your thoughts and comments are encouraged. I can be reached directly at jeff@jeffkaplan.com.