Date: February 2021 | Autho(s): Detlef Schroeter, Dorette Lochner
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Uh oh! Our organisation has gone hybrid!
How can I find and shape my new role in the organisation?
Virtually every organisation we work with is currently undergoing some kind of transformation – and very few of these transformations are based on a clearly defined policy deployment process! It has become clear that we no longer want everything to be orchestrated from above. Instead, employees at all levels of the organisation are being asked to take the initiative and be proactive. It's all about building momentum, trying out new organisational models and creating new roles. As digitalisation continues to drive changes, teams are increasingly being encouraged to manage themselves – and the spotlight is shifting to new models of participation and co-working.
Put simply, what we’re seeing are multiple organisational developments happening in parallel, and multiple changes occurring at different speeds. This is tough to keep track of at first. And it requires a shift in mindset: less “command and control”, and more “sense and respond”.
How do employees feel about all this?
One way we can find out is by listening to the kind of questions participants ask in our peer coaching sessions:
- How can I perform my role as a topic owner if the neighbouring department insists on speaking to my superior?
- How can I perform my role as an expert if the decisions are made elsewhere? As an expert, can I invite myself to decision-makers‘ meetings?
- How should I cooperate with the various Scrum Masters in my capacity as People Lead? How can I gain more authority in my organisation without ranks or titles?
- How can we make cooperation work with parts of the organisation that still have a traditional hierarchical structure?
- What should I do if others refuse to follow the principles and rules of agile working?
- As a production manager, what’s the best way to work with our new squads and tribes?
- What salary should I be asking for as a People Lead? How is the role evaluated? What scope for action do I have as a Chapter Lead and as a Tribe Lead?
These questions speak volumes about the blurring of new roles that employees are currently facing in companies undergoing transformation. On the one side, they have defined agile roles and processes; on the other, they have hierarchical structures; and, in the middle, there is a whole lot of “hybrid” going on! “Nobody is telling me exactly what I should be doing, what I can and can’t do, who I am and what I’m worth.”
Although it may seem counter-intuitive, this is actually something we should be celebrating: employees are being given more space to be creative and make an impact outside formal hierarchical structures. But people’s characters are different, and not everyone finds it easy to empower themselves. Some people struggle with the idea of wanting to influence others. This is especially true of knowledge workers, strategic-thinking analysts and those who are creative and inventive. Why? Because they think in such complex ways and like to search for even better solutions – and also because they typically crave autonomy but are relatively uninterested in power.
It’s therefore crucial for organisations to make sure these kinds of personalities do not get swamped as people vie for influence. Losing these voices means losing an important resource for the organisation’s ongoing transformation.
So what can be done? We would like to suggest three good starting points!
1. Peer groups: a great learning architecture for bold, proactive development
We’re seeing more and more clearly just how much employees can benefit from getting advice in peer groups. These groups give colleagues a space where they can jointly reflect on their roles and support each other in addressing and resolving conflicting expectations.
As coaches, we draw participants’ attention to “collective mental blockages”. We highlight key areas and interfaces and help people to channel emerging tensions into positive energy that can bring about change.
Peer consulting is a just about as “near-the-job” and “on-the-job” as you can get! Our participants have told us that these sessions with their peers reinforce their focus on current challenges and give them the strength they need to tackle them.
2. Self-efficacy as a key resource: how can I increase my impact?
When roles are unclear and we're thrown into new and unexplored territory, we often struggle with self-efficacy because we don’t have the experience we need to thrive. Our workshops provide a safe environment for participants to experience this emotion and take on a new mindset – one that will help them adapt to the unexpected and learn the value and importance of their “secondary response”.
The next step is for each individual to clarify what the most sensible approach is for them to take, and which of their own strengths and resources they can rely on. We explore areas in which participants can realistically expand their circle of influence. Participants can then use this as a basis to develop their self-efficacy strategy and plan how to put it into action. We encourage use of the “mirror speech” technique to verbally express the way forward.
The next step is to consciously put into practice your self-efficacy as a leader or knowledge worker. We offer a range of collaborative role-play sessions that allow participants to discover their patterns of behaviour and get feedback on whatever positive or challenging impacts this may have on a team’s performance.
3. Building self-marketing skills – how can I make myself and my contributions more visible?
In our training interventions, we often hear quite critical comments on the subject of self-marketing from experts and leaders. That’s why we start by encouraging participants to take a fresh look at the issue and recognise the opportunities that greater visibility offers – both for themselves and for their organisation.
Next, we ask participants to develop their own personalised plan of targeted steps to improve their visibility as a knowledge worker in the organisation and beyond. In a series of practical exercises, the participants experience what it means to make an impact in face-to-face and online settings, and how they can most effectively contribute their knowledge, appraisals and ideas. They practice techniques for convincing decision-makers by using appropriate arguments and having a positive impact on decisions. What’s more, they learn to recognise the added value of strategic networking in changing organisational structures.
We offer tailor-made in-house interventions in the field of organisational transformation. Available in both online and on-site formats, our learning programmes are designed to address the new hybrid roles of managers and employees.