Seven Steps for Success in 2019

2019 will be a year when things get focused. Concern turns to action. Attention turns to effort. Rubber meets the road.

1. Digital Deadline: Digital Transformation is in progress or your time is running out. This year, investments in time, effort and energy are paramount to integrate technologies that update — and potentially significantly disrupt — your company’s business model, revenue stream(s), customer intelligence gathering, employee engagement efforts and workforce connectivity and support. Without this, growth is unlikely and survival questionable. What technologies? That depends on your business, operations, locations, customer segments, talent pool and more. Considerations range from artificial intelligence, data gathering, cloud applications, enabling platforms and tools to employee training and customizable benefits delivery.

2. Skills’ Stock: What is the skills’ inventory of your organization? What about your own team? What are your top three skills? Without a good understanding of the skills at your disposal, how can you work out what you should be doing and whom to task with what and where? In the past, we have been defined by our job titles not our skills, but now job needs are evolving as are the skills required to get them done effectively. It’s time to understand and track each person’s specific talents — hard and soft skills — and then be able to find and assign workers appropriately.

3. Freelancer Forces: Right now, the people best-equipped for the new work environment are independent workers, not your employees or colleagues. Non-employees are keenly aware of the need to stay competitive — in terms of identifying and augmenting their skills and learning how, when and where they work best. They are also living and learning the new career dynamics, developing multiple income streams not relying on singular job security, wherever possible. Numbers are swelling as more people chose independent contracting and consulting projects. Millions are choosing to create an integrated working life with the flexibility they want. Millions more are unable to work with conventional fixed schedules and locations. How will your company be utilizing qualified non-employees as part of its total available talent pool?

4. Educating Employees: Standing still on quick sand isn’t recommended. Technology advancements are bringing new capabilities to adapt and improve operations, the ability to incorporate data learnings rapidly and iterate frequently as customer service delivery changes and cycles shorten. Investment in training is essential for a competitive workforce, especially to retain and develop talent. New decentralized workforce realities mean at a minimum proactively coaching managers to help them cope with dispersed teams and suitably manage virtual colleagues. Sharing productive remote working frameworks, habits, and tools will be important for yielding good results across multi-location teams.

5. Career Conundrums: Undefined future possibilities and confusion about how to progress their careers will continue to distract employees and further undermine productivity and retention. Employers will benefit who actively help their employees understand their strengths and possible job progression, and promote/pay for their skills’ development. Corporate loyalty is newly-defined by employers’ demonstrating and communicating their investment in and commitment to their employees’ future.

6. Make It Matter: Work IS Personal. We spend an average of one third of our lives at work. The “money for suffering” equation is tired and out-dated. It presumed compensation as a combination of salary and job security/lifelong employment. Now, it is each employer’s responsibility to articulate the work/reward equation that will attract, engage, and retain the quality talent they want for their particular business, vision and circumstances. Deep down, everyone wants to know the ‘why’ of what they are doing and that their contribution counts. Even a little bit. Every day. Why should someone engage in their work at your company? Why do you? What’s your ‘why’?

7. Essential Empathy: And here’s your ‘how’. The World Economic Forum foresees soft skills as fundamental and critical. Empathy is the core skill that enables trust to build, strong relationships to form, improves communication, facilitates collaboration, and connects a community. Companies integrating empathetic approaches and practices are nurturing workers who are better-prepared to tackle the faster pace of business and the less predictable, more projectized work they are now getting assigned. Their employees will more easily be able to innovate, share and develop ideas, and test and implement new concepts. Empathy @ Work is a key need and focus for this coming year.

Seven steps for success. Simple, but not easy. See how to prioritize them for your business and people. Remember this year — it’s crunch time!