Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Corporate Flexibility - How to bring it on

Image Source: Savour the Success
Any business award or achievement in the current environment represents the highest recognition of the ability to take advantage of change in an extremely disruptive environment. The question is, how to inculcate this flexibility into a corporate culture?

Flexibility must be pervasive

Successful companies are those which embrace change, not those which employ a few flexible people.

A fundamental requirement of corporate agility is that decision making needs to be devolved to the lowest level possible. Only companies that have a dynamic workforce can hope to keep up. This suggests that those who directly interface with the client need to have both the skills and the authority necessary to make decisions which satisfy both the client and the company – not easy.

If flexibility decreases with age, then we live in times where we must bring younger people into leadership positions.

In Africa we have an advantage -- over 500 million people under the age of 35-- sponges of knowledge, vibrant, interconnected, tech savvy, family-centric, team oriented, and attention craving.
Successful transformation is therefore less about handing over to the previously disadvantaged than it is about handing over to the younger generation, the Gen Ys.

Gen Ys in the Workplace

There has never been a larger disconnect between two generations than that which exists between Gen Ys and their parents.

A strong characteristic of Gen Y’s is their sense of immediacy, that “want it now” attitude. They woke up to a world that was filled with a succession of events that was completely life changing- Africa is nothing if not a continent in transition. As a result, many of them have made a decision that they need to live life now. They need to get on with the most important parts of their life. And that sense of immediacy, of living life in the current, is something that is very pervasive throughout Gen Y.

It’s not surprising that, in a recent survey, Gen Y’s put career advancement and salary at the top of their list when it comes to factors that influence where they decide to work.

Interestingly enough Gen Y’s ranked training and mentorship in the top three things that will influence where they decide to work in the same survey

The “want it now” attitude goes directly to Gen Y’s eagerness to engage with their employer, drive immediate results and advance in their careers.

It therefore should not be unexpected that, in the workplace, those responsible for mentoring Gen Y’s often have the feeling that they are sitting in a tornado.

Harnessing the tornado

Strong communication and leadership within an organisation are factors that will positively impact Gen Y’s engagement in the workplace

Gen y’s have grown up in a peer-to-peer world, meaning that communication is hugely important to them. So they are used to sending information to peers based on their perception of who could use the information, where it would provide the most value.

These young people come into a corporate environment with that same set of assumptions. So if they have an idea that they think could benefit you, it doesn’t matter who you are, CEO, head of marketing– they’ve got an idea, chances are they’re going to share it with you. That’s the way they’ve always operated and there’s no sign that this will change the corporate world.

This creates huge opportunities to harness these energies. What is needed is a corporate learning culture which leverages technologies that have disrupted the market. Such a culture has stands on three pillars:
  •     Harnessing the power of video learning;
  •     Creating a collaborative environment in which the Gen Ys assist in generating     content; 
  •     Driving engagement with targeted content based on objectively identified skills gaps.

What has your experience been in harnessing the Gen Y tornado?

Are Gen Y’s worth expending the extra effort needed to change them from good ideas and noble aspirations to value adding assets?

What specific mentoring programmes have you introduced for Gen Y’s?