Thinking leaders and HR practitioners recognise by now that the landscape of work is changing rapidly and that ‘careers’, as a subset are challenged in unprecedented ways. The world of work we are entering is vastly different from that which we’ve experienced to date and as such, we’re calling for new mindsets and strategies to craft positive and rewarding futures for us all.
We’re aware of the social, technological and enterprise shifts that are shaping the new dynamics of work; where individuals, engaged in various modes of employment will ‘dock’ and migrate from role-to-role across their extended working lives, in all likelihood, many times over and often circling back around.
So what models can we rely on that will extend beyond the accepted rhetoric that describes the new psychological contract for work? We’ve witnessed the need for open, honest dialogue that creates a far greater sense of equality. The command and control, manager/staff dynamic that served traditional organisational structures and systems well, is done. We want (and need) to see our talent as valuable contributors to our success. We understand that the argument for prolonged tenure is futile. We’re seeking better outcomes and tools to build environments of mutual trust and respect, befitting the new age of work and talent innovation we aspire to create and achieve.
Here’s the ‘paradox of letting go’ that so many of us as leaders have experienced and know to be true: when we shift to real conversations about life and career aspirations of our most valued employees (hopefully all!) we unlock levels of energy and engagement that are difficult to achieve in our old paradigms. We cannot be solely focused on what we, the organisation and leaders need. We’re urged here to loosen our concept of career ownership because frankly, enterprise is no longer the career owner.
So what’s the secret sauce? Let’s look at the role of self-determination in our new worlds of work. Self Determination Theory (SDT) (Deci & Ryan) is not only one of the most cited models in social psychology and intrinsic motivation theory; it’s the exact same theory that underpins gamification. SDT is characterised by three key elements – meaning, mastery and autonomy. When we describe new modes of engagement, we want to build relatedness quickly – establishing shared goals, getting clarity around purpose and aligning meaning and contribution are a strong foundation for mutual success – that’s meaning at work.
When we provide the opportunity for individuals to build their enduring, transferable skills, not only are we setting them up for success but also we’re building capability in the here and now within our organisations. Opportunities you provide for self-directed mastery go a long way to creating the relationships so vital to lifelong alliances. We know that technical skills form a core part of capability and the need for technical expertise in single and possibly multiple sets remains vital. That aside momentarily, we also know that coupled with skills like creativity, innovation, problem solving, decision-making, communication and team collaboration, we are investing in better outcomes. What’s more, individuals will seek out opportunities where they can grow everyday. By providing regular opportunities to reflect and grow, we’re also enhancing performance and building engagement. The value extends beyond relationships to the very concrete outcomes we seek.
Autonomy, the capacity for individuals to set their own direction, to make decisions and choices at liberty is perhaps though, the single most important element in a new frame of thinking and respect. It’s also the basis for enterprise agility. Agency is associated with wellbeing and a positive sense of self-identity, which links closely in turn, to work and life satisfaction. In the uncertain, unpredictable world of work we are entering there’s perhaps an ethical responsibility for leaders and enterprise, which extends beyond obvious commercial value, to equip their myriad of employees with opportunities for self-sufficiency.
If this sounds a little scary, consider these four commitments you could convey as the basis for new relationships and better outcomes. It’s bold, but the future demands nothing less!
- We’re listening – we get that clarity and purpose matters to you, so does individual progress and development
- We’re investing – we’re equipping you, our people, with the contemporary tools and resources needed for your self-directed success
- We’re permitting – we trust you
- We’re letting go – clearing you for take off, removing barriers and obstacles to your success; we’re shifting from management to leadership; we’re encouraging alliances, we want you to collaborate, connect and relate to peers, leaders, coaches, mentors, clients, competitors – so that we’re empowered together to thrive and grow
About our guest blogger, Anne Moore
Anne is a human capital specialist and thought leader with 3 decades of experience in small to medium, national and global organisations, across a broad range of sectors including technology, defence, telecommunications, retail, infrastructure and higher education. Her career has centred around empowering individuals to fulfil their potential. She is the founder and CEO of PlanDo, a self directing career management platform that equips you to achieve, grow and contribute everyday.