As thought leaders on interim management, every quarter we look ahead at what businesses need and apply thought-provoking insights from incredible interim business leaders, each with their own perspective. For the fourth quarter, here are expert insights from Ron Gerrans on operations to help you advance your goals in Q4 and into 2022.
Looking back on the first three quarters of 2021, what are some key takeaways for you?
Many macro forces have been exacerbated by the unique challenge of 2021, but many will continue to influence the future of business beyond the pandemic.
Change is constant. In startups, constant change is fundamental in how they plan and operate. Now, traditional industries and companies that used to be able to plan out five, 10, even 20 years, are realizing that the old world of stable, somewhat predictable futures is no longer a reality. While we are in a microcosm of this right now, businesses need to take these lessons learned about how to rapidly adjust and make them part of their core operating system going forward.
Company culture and employee connectivity are key.
As the newness of working from home turned into the grind of too many video meetings, and as we spent the last nine months thinking about how to move forward, it highlights that the connectivity tissue between employees that has to be nurtured and maintained is clearly harder in our new reality. It also shows us that these efforts are even more important now and going forward. Companies that are able to continue to apply
the lessons learned will build stronger connections between employees and a stronger company overall, leading to greater success.
From a talent perspective, what should companies be focused on (and why)?
While the last 18 months have been a black swan, they also shifted everyone’s thinking about priorities, experiences and work style. Ongoing outside forces will demand continuous change as we move forward, so we need to build a workforce that can adapt and change as necessary to respond. Leaders should focus on hiring and developing employee qualities that support adaptiveness, including critical problem-solving and continuous learning.
While experience and knowledge matter, recruiting and development should center on the skills and attitudes related to constant learning, so that employees can change their skills over time as the business changes. This is true whether it’s applied to employees learning to work with AI-based ordering systems, or auditors who need to coordinate with co-workers around the world and move from managing paper records to going all electronic. As many have pointed out, the last 18 months have leap-frogged the adoption of technology by at least 10 years. Now, employees have to continually adapt as that technology gets refined and embedded deeper in the organization. They also need to be able to keep pace as organizations continue to accelerate their own rate of change.
To help organizations identify and implement constant change, organizations should enable and encourage employees to identify problems, but also to participate actively in planning and implementing the solutions. This requires development of a learning mindset where employees question what they see and expose different perspectives to the rest of the organization. This is the foundation of an adaptive, learning-based organizational culture.
For Q4, what strategies or tactics are you recommending to your clients to finish the year strong? What should they be doing to set themselves up to be successful in 2022?
Building on above, I’m encouraging clients to mindfully develop a nimble organization that can respond quickly to future challenges and changes. Tactically, this means building out an operational framework that brings back longer-term planning to establish a vision of where they see themselves going, coupled with shorter planning and execution cycles so they can continue to adjust to what is likely to be another tumultuous year of change.
They also need to make sure that they are putting in place proper systems and communication mechanisms to keep employees aligned and working together to achieve those shorter-term objectives, since in a more rapid execution model there is much less tolerance for going off course. To deal with some of the challenges and lessons learned from remote work, whether remote, in-office or hybrid, leaders should design operational cadences intentionally focused on giving employees time to get things done and bring them together to make sure they are getting what they need from their teammates. These mechanisms can also help employees elevate their problems, insights, and learnings to the organization, while staying in alignment with the company into the future.
About Ron Gerrans
Ron Gerrans is an experienced senior executive who has built his career at the intersection of strategy, technology, and operations. He is recognized for his ability to understand technology and technical trends, develop business strategies that take those into account, and drive the execution of those strategies to create scalable organizations. He is passionate about developing the right business strategy for growth, and putting in place the organization and operating system to achieve it.