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Posts Tagged ‘employees’

The Rise of the Remote Workforce

remote-workforce-360x260We live in an emerging globalized mobile world of dispersed cloud workers. More than ever we see individuals and organizations trading in their traditional offices to work from home, coffee houses and just about anywhere in the world in which they can connect to the Internet. Leading the 21st century dispersed workforce brings its own challenges and requires new attitudes, approaches, and technologies. It requires leadership that is willing to step out of the comfort of the corner office and explore rich new possibilities of workforce engagement. It requires a higher degree of understanding communication, culture, collaboration, and empowerment.

“We live in a time of unprecedented globalism. Businesses, people, and economies are tied together in ways we could not have imagined 40 years ago. Organizations must now compete within a global landscape where clients and even the workforce are culturally diverse and geographically dispersed. Organizations are networked and interlaced around the globe through the Internet and mobile technologies. Crossing and operating within cultural boundaries must­­­ become a skill of the leaders and followers of the future. Organizations of the future must become culturally literate if they are to successfully compete under these emerging paradigms.” – Philip A Foster, The Open Organization, 2014

As we witness the emergence of a globalized mobile world of dispersed cloud workers, more than ever we see individuals and organizations trading in the traditional offices for the coffee house office or what I like to call the Coffice. A cloud based workforce is nothing more than a distributed or remote employee who is not bound by geography, time zone, or national boundaries. These employees are connected to colleagues via technology and therefore are able to work more flexibly via the internet.

Leader flexibility is the key to creating an atmosphere where each employee can become more excited about where they work and more importantly what they are working on. As the world becomes more globalized, the need for a flexible cloud optimized workforce is more evident. With a remote workforce comes the need to re-imagine and retool leadership for the remote worker. What is certain is that the way we approach and engage leaders and followers is quickly changing. There are challenges ahead as we assimilate into the new realities of a distributed cloud based workforce. Leading the charge for change is and will continue to be our Millennials. By the year 2025, it is estimated that nearly 75% of all work will be held by this generation. What is certain – change will happen whether we embrace it or not. As the 21st century organization continues to seek greater flexibility, organizational leadership must also evolve to the pressures and realities of a globalized economy.

While traditional leadership relies on formality, power, and proximity to followers; the Organization of the 21st century is emerging as a nontraditional structure in which authority is not vested in positions and human capital is dispersed geographically. Organizations will begin to abandon traditional leadership pedagogue for leaderless, self-led, and an empowered autonomous workforce. As hierarchies begin to collapse, leaders must learn to adapt to new realities and what it means to lead a more culturally diverse dispersed workforce from a distance.

As our reality shifts, leaders must learn how to communicate more effectively; engage human capital differently; embrace cultural nuances with diplomatic precision; and empower employees. The shift toward a dispersed workforce requires confidence and an abandonment of old models of employee engagement. The new way of working is not for everyone.  These changes will require discernment in the on-boarding process. Because Communication is so different in the dispersed setting, employees must leave ego behind and walk with assurance that they questions are important enough to ask.

Things are shifting – organizations are changing. Engagement of employees will change. We can either prepare for the inevitable or bury our heads in the depths of a 19th century hierarchical structure. In the end, you can change or you can become irrelevant. The choice is up to you.

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 Dr. Philip A. Foster is considered a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization and Strategic Leadership. He is a prolific writer, International Lecturer and Best Selling Author of “The Open Organization” – now available through Ashgate Publishing. Philip is certified in both Leadership and coaching. He is the Founder and CEO of Maximum Change Consulting, serving clients from around the world. He holds a Doctorate in Strategic Leadership with emphasis in Strategic Foresight and a Master of Art in Organizational Leadership, both from Regent University, Virginia.

Twitter: @maximumchange, E-mail: philip@maximumchange.com.

Dealing with New Organizational Models

962dab_84da176577754dacb1b687d5fd2d2458Many that follow my work know that I am deeply focused on the 21st century organization. Specifically, what it means to lead, follow and otherwise operate a business in this new century. I have often made the bold statement that we are witnessing the greatest shift in managerial protocols and organizational leadership since Frederick Taylor adopted the Scientific Management approach in the 1890s.  For many the shift is nearing seismic conditions. In fact, the models we use to define an organization or even an employee is shifting faster than we can comprehend. With this challenge comes the problem of how government regulators approach the emerging concepts. How government regulators define and recognize organizational models and practices have profound effect on everyone involved. Allow me to offer a case study to expound on how such problems in defining the new organization has devastating effects on business owners and their human capital. I have a dear friend and colleague who is working on gaining legal status with a goal of Citizenship in the United States. All he is asking for is to extend his L1A visa which is an intra company executive transfer visa. It was denied for a reason that says “we don’t see that you are doing executive tasks.” While I do not pretend to have all the details, I do have a grasp on the fundamental problems in his case. He owns a micro-corporation. A micro-corporation is one that has a small number of employees and engages in building alliances with other consultants and professionals in their respective field. He, in essence, has a distributed workforce of professionals available to meet the needs of his clients. An interesting fact is that his organization has been growing substantially.  His company grew from over $125,000 in 2013 to nearly $700,000 last year. He has actually hired full time employees who work directly on the payroll of his company. My friend’s business model is the epitome of an emergent 21st century organization. I should also note that he has paid income tax on both his company and his personal income.  His company is very much a legal entity within the context of the state in which his company resides. Here is where the rub comes. The United States Government does not recognize his micro-organization as a true company. They are having a hard time grasping that he is actually a business owner and thusly have denied him Legal Status here in the United States. Not only has he been a tax payer and upstanding citizen, his family is here with him and his children attend American schools. The government has said No to him. In my opinion – they have said no because they don’t understand the new economy. They don’t understand the realities of a globalized, distributed workforce model. I give you this case study as an example of the immense mountain we must climb to help regulators change their view of what a business is much less what an employee is. A recent poll shows that by the year 2025 over 50% of the working population in the United States will be freelancers – consultants. If these trends play themselves out, we are anticipating this number to increase to over 60% by the year 2040. It is unacceptable for regulators to define today’s business under an outdated, out-of-touch context. The time is now for society to catch up with today’s reality of our workforce. We can no longer afford to define organizations using 19th and 20th century ideals. Unfortunately getting the government to change their opinion is a slow process.

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Dr. Philip A. Foster is considered a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization and Strategic Leadership. He is a prolific writer, International Lecturer and Best Selling Author of “The Open Organization” – now available through Ashgate Publishing.  Philip is certified in both Leadership and coaching. He is the Founder and CEO of Maximum Change Leadership and Business Consulting, serving clients from around the world. He is a Doctor of Strategic Leadership with emphasis in Strategic Foresight and holds a Master of Art in Organizational Leadership, both from Regent University, Virginia. He can be reached at philip@maximumchange.com.

Does your organization have cultural flu?

I was talking with a friend recently and he lamented that his employees email him over everything. Without hesitation, I told him that someone in his organization must have taught them to do that. Either knowingly or unknowingly someone has modeled this behavior. It was not necessarily done with malice. He went on to say that a former supervisor had caused some issues internally and it was at that moment it occurred to me that his culture had the flu. Cultural flu is passed to unsuspecting individuals through behaviors and actions. You see, culture is very much the central nervous system of an organization. Organizational culture, like any culture, holds our beliefs, values and behavioral norms. While they may not have intended on creating an organizational bottleneck, the presence of certain actions may have modeled behaviors that eventually infected other members within the organization. Organizational culture is very interesting to study because it is so pervasive. The problem we encounter is that when one is immersed long enough in a given culture, we begin to grow accustom to the norms and may even participate in those norms knowingly or otherwise. Once a cultural norm has been established, it is difficult to change it. We can use a fancy phrase called cultural relativism to describe what happens when you take on a cultures belief system. Simply put, we will defend what we hold to be true; even when what we hold to be true is not healthy or helpful. I would caution that culture should not be a scapegoat for every problem an organization encounters. Sometimes our problems begin with bad leadership, ineffective training, or poorly designed processes. Regardless, each could play to the bigger problem of how the culture of an organization is changed over time. While change is never easy, beginning to identify and address these cultural issues is important to your organizations long-term success. As an organizational doctor, I would prescribe a regime of assessments to help determine whether your organization has a cultural flu. Once identified, we can begin to develop an approach that is specific needs of the organization. The pathway to a healthy organization runs through the organizations culture.

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Dr. Philip A. Foster is considered a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization and Strategic Leadership. He is a prolific writer, published author and lectures internationally. His most recent book “The Open Organization” is now available through Ashgate Publishing.  Philip is certified in both Leadership and coaching and serves as Adjunct professor at Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN. He is the Founder and CEO of Maximum Change Leadership and Business Consulting, serving clients from around the world. He is a Doctor of Strategic Leadership with emphasis in Strategic Foresight and holds a Master of Art in Organizational Leadership, both from Regent University, Virginia. He can be reached at philip@maximumchange.com or (615) 216-5667.

When Not Knowing Can Hurt Your Organization

busConsultantIt is one thing to know that you don’t know and entirely different when you don’t know that you don’t know.  When I first engage with a new client I assess the organizations strategic team and their internal culture among followers. These assessments allow me to examine the alignment between the c-suite executives and lower level managers as well as the way followers perceive how things are in a company matched against their preference in the future. These assessments allow me to build a values framework to better interpret a variety of organizational phenomena such as core values, assumptions, interpretations and so forth. These assessments allow me the first insight into what is happening underneath the flashy exterior of the organizations first impressions. In fact, these assessments have exposed indicators of problems. Case in point, a client engaged us to conduct a corporate culture assessment. The assumption was that all of the followers within the organization were happy and that the assessments would prove that they were on the right track. In fact, the assessment exposed a glaring problem within a division of the organization. There appeared a respondent that was unhappy and seemed to indicate that the management was not interested in the follower’s well-being. This came as an utter surprise to the stakeholders. In fact, it bothered them so much that they asked me to please expose who the respondent was because they wanted to fix the problem. As it turned out, the individual in question was considered the company’s best employee and was up for a promotion. The assessment process showed that sometimes we don’t know that we don’t know. In other words, the organization didn’t realize that they had a perceived problem with this individual. The individual felt overlooked and left out of the process and rightly so. The leaders didn’t realize that their star employee was in fact disillusioned. This permitted leadership within the organization to re-evaluate how they communicate internally and they were able to turn this problem around.

We, as leaders, must understand that focusing on what is in front of us is only half the process of leading. We must be aware of the hidden things within our organizations. There are many assumptions people make about what is happening around them. Sometimes we think we know, but in fact we don’t know what we don’t know.

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PIC3Philip A Foster is considered a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization and Strategic Leadership. He is a prolific writer, published author and lectures internationally. His most recent e-book “Organization 3.0 – The Evolution of Leadership and Organizational Theories Toward an Open System for the 21st Century” is available exclusively on Amazon.  Philip is certified in both Leadership and coaching and serves as Adjunct professor at Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN. He is the Founder and CEO of Maximum Change Leadership and Business Consulting, serving clients from around the world. He is a Doctor of Strategic Leadership candidate with emphasis in Strategic Foresight and holds a Master of Art in Organizational Leadership, both from Regent University, Virginia. He can be reached at philip@maximumchange.com.