Many organisational leaders spend much time trying to predict the future in order to prepare for it.
But what they need to invest in instead is preparing a team that is agile, confident, competent in their work, able to adapt and navigate the future—whatever that future is.
Change is an external force that we hardly have control over. What we as leaders can investigate instead is: what internal forces can we change to make our team better prepared to handle external forces?
Whether they are threats, or opportunities, (or both), your organisational culture, values, standards, and way of working will prepare you to face change and disruption.
What do you need to build for your organisation to weather volatility and disruption?
1. Future-ready Mindsets
The teams that are most prepared for uncertainty are those who are not thrown off by change, and who are comfortable with risk.
Learning agility and digital confidence are two key elements for being future ready.
In Developing Employee Resilience in the Face of Workplace Disruption, DocumentMedia states that “Resilient and engaged organizations are information-enabled. Employees are empowered to contribute and share information and resources.”
In How Companies Can Build a Resilient Culture, BSR says it very well: “Market turbulence did not begin with the fall of Lehman Brothers, and it will not end when the global economy recovers…In a world of constant change, turbulence will continue to increase. All this uncertainty poses a tremendous challenge on organizations. To respond effectively, leaders must build agility into the fabric of their organization.”
2. Culture of Trust
People are the key to your ability to respond to disruption. And it starts with leaders.
“When the leader is healthy and relationally strong, his or her team will also tend to be relationally healthy and strong,” Rachel Ong, CE of ROHEI, shares from experience, in this video.
Leadership earns the team’s trust through relationship, through open communication and transparency. Leaders need to cultivate a culture of learning, an attitude of positivity, and the ability to take feedback well and use it to improve.
“One of the most important things that we often fail to give due importance is the work culture, which often plays a deciding role in retaining and binding people to an organization,” Entrepreneur.com says in Why It's Important to Build a Good Work Culture.
Culture also directly impacts ability to attract and retain talent. It is a non-negotiable for business success.
“People work better when they feel good so show appreciation and give credit when due, encourage engagement, and talk about positive outcomes associated with behaviors instead of shaming / criticizing people. Create a positive and supportive work environment,” Fast Company advises in Five Ways to Create a Culture of Sustainability in Any Company. Small, thoughtful actions from leaders can make a big impact.
A good company culture is a reflection of healthy relationships. Good relationships inspire loyalty in the staff and drive up engagement and retention, creating stronger teams and better teamwork. With highly engaged staff, your organisation is better prepared to face uncertain times.
The importance of building trust
In the e-book Building a Culture of Trust for Sustainable Business Results, ROHEI CE Rachel Ong says that "A culture of high trust enables an organisation to move through difficult and sudden changes with less anxiety and resistance. A team that enjoys trust will courageously take on new challenges because members feel safe with one another. They are confident of mutually good intentions and proven capabilities to deliver meaningful results."
Salesforce: not just an organisation but a family
Salesforce is one example of a company that has weathered—and excelled in— volatility and disruption, nurturing future-ready mindsets as well as building a culture of trust. In 2017, Salesforce Singapore topped the Great Place to Work awards in the Medium and Large Organisations category, being in the top spot for 3 years in a row.
Great Place to Work is a global organisation that recognises great workplace culture based on anonymous employee surveys and evaluation on 3 main categories: trust, camaraderie, and joy at work.
Salesforce started in 1999. They “pioneered CRM software in the cloud, helping companies run their business smarter.” It’s almost 20 years later, and their products have evolved tremendously, becoming increasingly useful to more and more customers even as the landscape of marketing, and digital systems continued to change.
Behind the success of Salesforce is a team that values trust. They prioritise relationships, using the word “Ohana” (Hawaiian word for family) to represent their culture, the values, behaviour, and experiences they want to be known for. “Our culture makes us one of the most innovative, admired, and best places to work in the world.”
The culture of trust does not come out of being successful. Having a culture of trust builds the foundation for success.