In March 2020, the world went into a tailspin.
The COVID-19 virus had finally made its global mark and everyone’s lives immediately shifted.
Most notable was the way we used to work. The majority of American workers were accustomed to being in a physical office for eight hours. But as of March 2020, nearly half of those workers were forced to do their responsibilities from home.
Within days, human resources professionals were tasked with navigating uncharted waters. For the United States specifically, the last pandemic of this size was in 1918. Within that 100-year gap, the way we operate day to day has been completely revolutionized, meaning there is no blueprint for how to manage a modern workforce under these circumstances.
As a result, leadership decisions were put under a microscope. Decisions that were unlike any these business leaders have had to tackle in their careers. Many leaders rose to the occasion by softening employee expectations and providing an empathetic environment during an anxiety-inducing time.
For a little bit, it worked.
In Lever’s State of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion report, 60 percent of employers said they provided “accommodations, opportunities and tools for employees to succeed based on their specific needs.” Additionally, 51 percent said they “introduced flexible policies” and 52 percent also worked to “make sure employee pay was equal across titles or positions.”
The managers that land on the other end of the leadership spectrum aren’t necessarily apathetic to their employees, though. And while, yes, there are bad-apple outliers, the biggest problem leaders are facing is that they just did not have the right foundation or support to lead during such turbulent times.
And as we are heading into a fall with COVID numbers rising once again, organizations and their leaders are forced to think about what navigating a COVID-19 in the long term looks like.
Currently, not enough focus is put on leadership
Leadership isn’t something that is learned through one conference or webinar. It is a skill that is developed, maintained and evolved. That being said there is no such thing as a perfect leader, just opportunities to get better.
But as a workforce, we are failing our leaders. In 2016, a Harvard Business survey found only seven percent of the professionals surveyed believed their leadership programs are best in class. And for those companies that are considered best in class? Well, only 40 percent of those surveyed said leadership is “important” to business strategy but not fundamental.
We have even more data to back up the large leadership gap, too. According to DDI’s Global Leadership Forecast 2021 report, only 35 percent of leaders said they are effective at managing change. Additionally, only 28 percent of the leaders surveyed say they are being coached or developed in critical leadership areas. And it’s being felt throughout a company.
Bad leadership is a key factor in retaining top talent. Gallup estimates that “managers account for at least 70 percent of variance in employee engagement scores across business units.”
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And, within the past two decades, Gallup has studied performance at hundreds of organizations and measured the engagement of 27 million employees and more than 2.5 million work units.
“No matter the industry, size, or location, we find executives struggling to unlock the mystery of why performance varies from one workgroup to the next,” Gallup says. “Performance metrics fluctuate widely and unnecessarily in most companies, in no small part from the lack of consistency in how people are managed.”
Simply put, consistency is key.
Leaders need help – here’s how they can get it
There is no one-size-fits-all leadership model because there is not a one-size-fits-all company culture.
And, to reference our earlier point, this is how leaders are often set up to fail. They are not given the feedback and tools to help them succeed. Those leaders that rose to the occasion over the last year and a half are feeling burnt out. Out of the leaders surveyed in the Global Leadership Forecast, 60 percent say they feel “used up” at the end of every workday.
What COVID-19 taught us is that most leaders do care, they just don’t have the right skills, communication, support and consistency to keep their efforts sustainable. Luckily, there is a solution.
As technology has evolved, the modern workplace has implemented more efficiencies to increase productivity and output. So, why not apply that to leadership development?
This is the gap StaffGeek is filling with its product, Lead. Like all StaffGeek software, the key is culture. We’re not talking branded swag and company happy hours, either. What makes up an organization’s true culture are agreed-upon values and goals. By working toward a clearly established common goal, team communication is streamlined and employees have a better understanding of their role within the organization.
The organization and people that make it up must be aligned first. If even one person on a team is misaligned on these goals, a gap is created. And that gap has high potential to widen.
Where StaffGeek has shown success is through focusing on People Analytics, or using data to inform the best culture fit during the hiring process, to level up leaders or develop current talent. Data is concrete, and by linking hard numbers to an organization’s core values, many problems are solved and communication is better streamlined.
For HR professionals that need help with streamlining processes and improving leadership, StaffGeek’s products get to their organization’s core, create a culture foundation and build off that. This means having a better-engaged staff and more time to focus on what matters.