How do you maintain culture, loyalty, and relationships when communication takes place primarily at a distance and via online meetings – and often with fluctuating technical quality?

Several of our clients have embarked on completely new managerial challenges which require them to find new and innovative ways of creating, and maintaining, a dynamic and motivating workplace.

In the world after Corona, the pressure on management is rising.

While we are slowly returning to a world that resembles what we knew before Corona, it has become clear to many that it will never be quite the same in terms of ”going to work".

Many of our clients have recognized that the virtual workplace has come to stay. Covid-19 has driven a development leading to major and radical changes in the way we will function in a workplace of the future.

It is the management that is responsible for the strategy and therefore the consequences of their decisions. Management must show the way while also acknowledging that many employees now prefer working from home and enjoy being able to plan their time independently.

It has also become harder to motivate employees to meet physically in the workplace and feel part of a physical work environment.

Some challenges our clients face:

In all the above situations, I must conclude that management has simply not been in close enough contact with the employees. At this time HR departments and management have had to be proactive to ensure that all employees are satisfied and motivated.

Three inspiring solutions where management has been creative and dared to explore new avenues:

  1. A large financial company held social events which were only available to those who have been physically at work.
  2. A larger real estate company delegated to middle managers that they, together with their employees, could decide who and how often employees worked from home
  3. A production company chose to offer 3 optional models regarding how often the employees worked from home and how often they were physically present in the workplace. Employees were allowed to decide for themselves which model they found optimal to enhance their Work-Life-Balance.

Which management skills are in demand?

Corona has forced us to think of other and increasingly digital ways of working. Experts estimate that by 2023, 2/3 of the world's economy will be digital – this is a development that puts future leadership roles under huge pressure.

We have noticed that our clients have started to demand more of these 5 personal competencies:

  1. Innovative leaders who are able to lead others without being physically present
  2. Communicative leaders who can retain a strong personal dialogue
  3. Empathetic leaders with a focus on high employee satisfaction
  4. Enterprising leaders who can go new ways
  5. Leaders who are willing to take risks and can make innovative and proactive decisions.

These observations alone cannot answer my initial question, but maybe they will prompt you to think outside the box in managing your post-Covid business.

Susanne Becker Mikkelsen
Partner Denmark     

The most effective way to grow is to hire diverse executive talent.

Is it better to hire someone who’s a good match for your culture, or someone who can make it better?

Smart organizations are paying lots of attention to their culture, and for a good reason. There is a lot of evidence that  organizational culture is a top driver of employee engagement. But due to human nature, hiring managers are often unintentionally biased and work with a definition culture fit - favouring candidates who would fit in well with the current team based on personal attributes. Feelings of “we can have a beer after work” may play important part in the selection process.

But as more companies strive for diversity and inclusion, the term “culture fit” is falling out of favour.

In contrast to the culture fit mindset and seeking to hire more of what is already working well, "culture add” focuses on gaining what the current culture lacks - it looks for people who value an existing culture, but also bring something different that positively contributes to the company.

Assessing for culture fit works well in small businesses but leads to homogeneous culture and at some point, the company needs people who experienced larger and more complicated systems and team members who look at the same problems in a different light - and with different ways of thinking emerge different interests and personalities.

With that of course comes more discomfort - but in the same way that exercise without discomfort does not lead to growth, a team without cognitive discomfort limits its own potential.

Diversity in viewpoints and ability to take different perspectives allows to debate different strategies and come to better outcomes. It is well documented that:

The most effective way to grow is to hire diverse executive talent.

Adding people with same ideas and approaches can create an environment where everyone thinks and acts in the same way.

Diverse teams may at first feel less comfortable, but that is why they perform better.

Andrea Chladkova, Partner
Mary Keane, Partner
Czech Republic

We spoke with Agata Jach, Group HR Director, who joined InPost in March 2021.

InPost is the largest logistics company in Poland operating in the e-commerce industry, offering courier services and deliveries via the nationwide network of Parcel Lockers. The company plans to become the leading European provider of automated 'out-of-home' e-commerce solutions and counts on significant growth opportunities, both in Poland and in key European markets, where recognition of parcel machines is growing rapidly as the e-commerce market grows significantly. InPost’s debut on Euronext has opened up the next phase of its international development, especially in Great Britain and Italy, and it is also considering expansion in France and Spain.

What makes a passionate HR leader with 18 years of experience in strategic and operational management in global corporation such as Sanofi or AXA join a Polish, privately owned company?

“Honestly, the fact that it was Polish, privately owned with a strong footprint of Private Equity was the biggest hook. After years of being a part of global organisations, mainly involved in reorganisations, optimisations, cost cutting run with accordance to some highest targets, and big not totally revealed plans, I really wanted to try something different. I wanted to be part of something I can truly co-create with my business partners.”

What do you like the most about InPost?

“Its corporate culture(!) -its speed, decisiveness, innovative approach, and its openness to learn and adjust according to the market changes. With this kind of approach the sky is the limit. The company plans international expansion and wants to become a significant international player, InPost is one of the fastest growing companies in Europe! It is great to be part of it."

Such a fast growth, development must create certain challenges for HR, am I right?

“Oh, yes! Bearing in mind the speed of the changes and need to adapt we have to work constantly on developing our competencies in terms of, for example, change management or leadership but also in terms of our knowledge, technical solutions and tools which are rapidly developing. We have got to be more tech and data savvy, use modern technology, and make decision basing on data analysis. We all, like many other companies these days, have to learn how to improve our action from quality, accuracy but also from a speed point of view. Thinking about international expansion we need to ensure we are a competitive and attractive employer.”

How about the planned expansion - what would be the main driver of it?

“E-commerce is growing, and that is good news for us. We want to grow in the market where e-commerce is well-developed. We still are not sure what the final governance framework for scaling-up our business might look like as we are still working on the details, however we know that well planned internal succession and access to external talent will be a strategic driver in HR. On one hand developing our skills, knowledge sharing, increasing our competencies thus building our potential internally, on the other we have to focus on top talent from outside and so Employer Branding will be extremally important. Fortunately a very important dimension of our business is a sustainability and we do limit our carbon footprint as we have parcel lockers which limits the “last mile”. We genuinely care about ecology and our planet. So, as you can see there are a lot of things which need to be taken care of.”

We would like to thank Agata for a very interesting conversation, and we wish you good luck in your new role.

Dorota Serwińska, Partner

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