Article 5 - The Search for the Holy Grail of Remote Work in the Post-Pandemic
Published Date: 5 May 2021
In recent times I have been asked about the best way for remote work to be part of the future of organizations in the post-pandemic.
I think it is fantastic to have people in Portugal thinking with a certain advance about the future of work, not least because this is an extremely strategic topic that will recognize (positively or negatively) an organization with regard to the retention and attraction of its current and future people. It is no coincidence that companies such as Facebook, Spotify, Microsoft and Siemens have been positioning themselves and setting an example.
When asked about this topic, there is an expectation on the other side that through my experience and knowledge of remote work, I will be able to guarantee a magic formula, infallible and with well-defined rules and assumptions that allow a generalization of the practice.
However, I cannot live up to this expectation! Because? Because this formula does not exist!
What exists is an approach that I consider to be the most appropriate and that is 100% focused on what is important to people. Whatever the size of the organization, the process begins with the leaders of the various teams individually questioning their followers:
1) How many times a week would you like to work remotely?
2) Where would you like to work?
3) Do you have the technological conditions to work in that place (s) in order to be able to collaborate with the team? If not, why?
This last question is very relevant, because if the answer is “no”, it is important that the employee and his leader evaluate whether it is possible to have these conditions or whether the employee will have to reevaluate his workplace so that harm you, let alone the connection and collaboration with your team.
After these questions are answered, the team members must gather and define together the fundamental assumptions to work in the most aligned way possible, respecting each other's space and determining moments of feedback, team building and collaboration, which can be developed in a different way. hybrid or completely remote.
I imagine they are asking themselves: But what is the role of the people management department in this topic? They are the ones who define or must define these themes through generalized politics! They have to have a solution for this!
What role do leaders play in this alignment? They will want to have the opportunity to make decisions!
Therefore, the people management department makes all employees and teams aware that this process has to be done together and at the most facilitates the conditions for this to happen. Team leaders can be impartial facilitators in these meetings or they can ask members outside the team (other members of the organization or even outside the organization itself) to have that role with the teams and facilitate the joint agreement.
It should be noted that this performance has been used with great success by remote teams around the world, accustomed to this form of work long before the pandemic. This process increases the psychological security that exists in the teams, as it allows everyone the possibility to speak and express their opinions, to be heard and thus be really part of the decision.
The other approach, is the traditional way of defining something in an organization, in which a group of managers and / or the HR department, define whether remote work should remain as a form of work; and if so, what are the rules of the game and the respective policy that the organization must have. These rules are created based on the bias of those involved, their interests, opinions based on the policies of other organizations or through surveys extended to all with pre-defined responses. This last approach is the usual one, allowing an easier, simpler, faster and centralized implementation.
My suggestion is the most time consuming initially, mainly because it is totally decentralized, and because there will be (in principle) a tremendous diversity of ways of working which will lead to the need for differentiated and (perhaps) more expensive support. But the most striking is the autonomy and responsibility given to each employee in the process of defining the process with an involvement from day zero.
I recommend that you analyze the positioning of Facebook, Spotify, Microsoft and our Outsystems on this topic, at the heart of your strategy is the possibility for your people to choose ... Coincidence (s) ?!
Article 4 - The Dark Side of Teleworking
Published Date: 19 April 2021
Telecommuting has been one of the most "hot" themes during the pandemic, mainly because it is the only solution found by the State for the non-proliferation of the virus while keeping the economy as active as possible.
The solution is understandable and probably the only possible one in the context of which we are unaware and for which we are (still) ill-prepared. However, it is relevant to take a critical look at this form of telework, which I consider to be an unequal, inhuman, inefficient and misleading reality.
Shall we dissect?
Let's start with the Deceptive reality. The work we are doing is at home, a space that for many would never be the ideal place to work, neither from a technological point of view (poor quality of the internet signal, laptop without a camera, etc.) nor in terms of convenience (lack of of their own space, children wanting attention, inadequate ergonomics, etc.). In a true culture of remote work, people are given the option of working where they really want to, taking into account the right conditions for that purpose and choosing the days they want to do it - as long as it is always in line with the purpose of their role and that of their team. .
It is also an Inhuman reality, due to the non-use of the camera to contact each other in meetings or other joint moments, due to the loss of notion of how important it is (man) to have social moments and how we should behave in these contexts. Because when we talk to each other, our belief that we can do several things at the same time is highlighted and in reality we are not really paying attention to each other, because we do not ask what is happening with the elements of our team from the point of view. personal view, as we intensify the control of the indicators.
It is also an Inefficient reality, because if in many companies already suffered from “reunite”, it got worse and spread like the virus by many others. In addition to the number of meetings, there is the fact that most of them are repetitive and / or exceed more than one hour in duration, sinning by results and concrete conclusions at the end. The more meetings we have, the less time we have to actually “work” and operationalize all the tasks we have throughout the week. In conclusion, the hours extend a lot and in an unproductive way and I leave to your imagination the consequences (individual and collective) that can be perpetuated ...
Finally, we have the Desigual reality, with the fact that the location of our homes can affect access to the telecommunications networks; sectors that are unable to adapt to this reality; the differentiated investment of companies to provide their employees with the necessary support to have the necessary technological and ergonomic conditions and even to the differing support in the development of the skills to work in this format. At this point, to emphasize that the lack of vision of the managers of our country led the remote work to remain in the “drawer”, some for lack of willingness to invest ... others (mostly) due to lack of confidence in their teams. It is not necessary to investigate much to realize that several companies outside Portugal and in some (few) internal cases, remote work was already a perfectly acceptable, adequate and very present way of working before the pandemic.
In the meantime, our Government together with the social partners decided to make Teleworking mandatory until the end of the year, where the assumption of the non-proliferation of the virus remains and thus we can save more lives. But two questions remain:
- What are we doing to change the reality described above?
- What conditions are we creating to have a true culture of remote work in a post-pandemic hybrid arrangement?
Saving lives is fantastic, but when work represents 2/3 of our working time, the key to much of our happiness lies in our ability to humanize what we do!
The return to “normality” and of the teams to the offices should not become a reality in the short term, so what are we going to do (now) to have a very different reality in the future?
Article 3 - Reasons for the Essential End to Authoritarian Management
Published Date: 27 November 2020
Before strolling through HOW we can change the current state of our Teaching System and our predominant Organizational System, it is relevant to put in perspective the reasons that compel the necessary end of the potentiated authoritarian management.
Let us start by the business context in which we live, where technology and globalization will increasingly enhance - Mundo VICA. Deconstructing the concept, Volatibility indicates the inconsistency existing in day-to-day consolidated by increasing the speed of change with which we have to deal in the business world; this aspect drives Uncertainty and brings the (necessary) awareness that the business world is increasingly unpredictable; Complexity, which arises from the connection and interdependence of several factors (local and global) that make the attempt to define cause-effect relationships that we typically want to establish to point the way irrelevant; all this brings us an enormous ambiguity, due to the multiplicity of meanings and readings that can be made of the reality and the existing conditions, which makes any type of planning very difficult (make it impossible, I would say!).
In this scenario, very real and disruptive, it makes sense to ask ourselves if it makes sense that a Manager:
- Make decisions for a group of people?
- Plan the next year (s) of your department or company flawlessly? What if it becomes “just” a semiannual, quarterly or even monthly planning?
- Deal with the pressure of making the right decisions alone?
- Live in a healthy way the solitary responsibility of making your division / department / company sustainable?
A few years ago (few, I confess!) Possibly I would answer all these questions "YES, it is possible!"
After some reflection, I explain why: first because I was "born" working in hierarchical contexts in which this behavior was expected of me (I had to acculturate what happened or is even happening to many of you); and second, because things were going well for me, the team and the organization!
The problem is when everything goes wrong and we understand that more than us (me and my team) and the mistakes that we may have made, it is the organizational system in which we are involved that does not sympathize with Mundo VICA. Because? An organizational system that is based on authoritarian management is necessarily rigid and bureaucratic, in which its evolution and development depends on a decision making that needs to go through the existing layers - hierarchies - and the respective managers and possible sub-managers. In the end, the organization lost the momentum for change, let itself be defeated by uncertainty, cannot cope with complexity and fails in its planning.
Bureaucracy and the underlying policy in decision making are the greatest enemies of an organization that wants to evolve and adapt.
After the reflection on the impact of the VICA world on the individual manager and on the hierarchical organizational system, let us move on to the relationship between the authoritarian manager and employees based on the profile and motivations of the generation most present in the labor market (Gallup identified as representing close 70% of the workforce in the world) - the Millennials, born between 1980 and 1996; and Generation Z, which is now entering the labor market, born between 1996 and 2012.
What do studies show about Millennials that clash with authoritarian management? There are several aspects:
1) They prefer to work collaboratively than individually;
2) They value constructive feedback as they consider it the necessary and sufficient impetus to focus on the areas in which they need to improve;
3) They give equal value to the professional and personal aspects;
4) While investing in the organization where they work, there is an expectation that the company will contribute to their professional and individual growth at the same time;
5) They are willing to spend their time and effort to grow and be better professionals, as well as guaranteeing something unique for the organizations where they work. At the same time, they are not available to perform the same function for years.
From my experience, as a Millennial with the responsibility of managing Millennials, I can clearly identify the 5 points above and also my “failures” in terms of leadership and the organizational system where I was involved! And you?
What about Generation Z? The most important inputs are:
1) Change is very well received by them and they are constantly looking for new ideas and experiences;
2) They prefer to work independently and control their own destiny, not wanting to be dependent on others;
3) They want to be heard and contribute equally to any topic to be discussed in the organization, as well as to have access to diverse and continuous information.
4) They consider that they can contribute to the organization, like any other colleague, regardless of their generation or experience.
Apparently, if Millenials were already a problem for most current managers due to a lack of understanding of their motivations, what will happen when Generation Z starts to gain more and more space in organizations?
It is necessary to be aware that there are no better or worse generations. Yes, there is a greater diversity that must be received with generosity and inclusion, to be “heard” and “understood”, enabling intra-generational coexistence, without the usual negative stereotypes - that we create in an idle way when we want to characterize what we do not understand in the “other ”.
It is imperative to take into account that these generations are the present of organizations and their closest future, so we are inclusive and above all we respect individuality. The manager who fails to do so will certainly be rejected ... continually.
How do these generations fit into a traditional organization? And how can the authoritarian manager manage this diversity?
The answers are: No (certainly fit) and No (undoubtedly succeeds)!
Do these current assumptions make sense to demonstrate how urgent change is? Changing the Leader's Role? Changing the Organizational System (s) that enhance authoritarianism and above all bureaucracy?
Now, we have an open path to the next article: HOW can we change current systems? And what kind of leadership prevails?
PS: More and more proud to belong to the Millenials generation and to recognize in me the characteristics described above, especially happy to have rejected the process of acculturation to a modus operandi that is part of the past early 😊
Article 2 - The deep roots of Authoritarian Management in Portugal
Date: 12 September 2020
Portugal was, from the beginning of its existence and over the centuries, a country reigned and dominated by pyramidal organizational structures, which in practice meant that we got used to living in extremely segmented hierarchies in which the person above commands and controls who is below.
Let us start with the hierarchies that governed and managed us for centuries: the military hierarchies in which the Romans had an indisputable influence in our country - is there a more segmented military structure than the Roman Legion? - until a military dictatorship that ended less than 100 years ago, the ecclesiastical hierarchy whose influence ends in the 14th century, the Monarchy until the beginning of the 20th century and finally Politics until 1975.
More than a simple habit, the tradition of hierarchization in our country is indisputable, we can obviously discuss the weight it has in our times - more or less depending on what we want to see and analyze - but we cannot fail to reflect how culturally it remains installed in us. nowadays. Whether we are proud or not, it is normal that from generation to generation, more or less consciously, we pass this relationship on to this manager and manager and their expected "roles". We have been educated to do so.
And interestingly, our education system ends up emphasizing this tradition ... you must be asking: but how?
So, it has been studied and proven that the first 7 years of a child's life are fundamental in the formation of his personality, parents have a fundamental role in the way they are "managed" or "led" having this period has a tremendous impact in the way we deal with others. At the same time, at this stage in our life, we begin our contact with the educational system and live with the most present figures in this context - the Teachers.
The educational system regulated by the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education has been defining (especially in the public sector) the role of the Teacher as a professional who has the responsibility to share in class, for all students, subjects already that are found in books that are repeated year after year. In the end, “homework” of preparation for tests / exams are requested, which are the critical moments of assessment that allow students to be differentiated and evaluated (from excellent to mediocre), in which only at that moment is the development recognized and differentiated and individual student learning. The system imposes and the teacher complies if he leaves the system.
And the student? The student consents (in general) and for its development / recognition it converges with the system. How is your day-to-day?
Fundamentally characterized by listening (or not) to the sharing of the material made by the teacher; it hardly questions what is being shared and if it does, mostly the teacher's response will be a repetition of what has already been said; take notes (or not); do the exercises (or not); and then study (or not) for the tests / exams decorating (or not) what comes in the books or in your notes. Then, it does its best in these critical moments of assessment (with or without cheat sheets).
Note that the "or not" is closely linked to the student's personality and rejection of the regime.
The lack of individualized and customized monitoring is marked, resulting in a reduction of the student's involvement in his learning process, which may even lead to the need to corrupt the system (through the use of cheat sheets, for example).
We are facing a system that does not involve students, it only segments them.
Through this, we entered the job market and have this historical background with us, what do we expect from US?
- the I that manages - to command, to think, to make decisions, to give indications, to indicate the way and to establish the strategy and the objectives;
- the self that is managed - is sent, does not need to think, listens to decisions or receives information, follows guidelines, enters the path desired by the manager and fulfills the objectives; (or not!)
These two "EUS" end up "creating" a (organizational) system that is characterized by the centralization of the decision in the manager, dehumanization, bureaucratization, unhealthy competition and focus on the short term.
Does it make sense? At least make it reflect ... :)
I believe that we are facing one of the oldest orthodoxies that we have and that it is replicated naturally in our organizations.
In a next article I will share ideas on how we can change this system (s) and current examples of fully participatory and collaborative leadership.
See you soon!
Article 1 - Welcome "New humble culture
of Error "
Published Date: 6 April 2020
Plato was a famous philosopher and mathematician of the classical period of Ancient Greece, having been the founder of the Academy of Athens, considered the first institution of higher education in the Western world.
The Academy is created as a result of his twelve-year post-execution pilgrimage to Socrates (his master) in which he considers that the State's action was immoral and a demonstration of a defective system. In your Academy, knowledge is considered to be alive and dynamic, that is, never considered definitive or sacred truth, but, rather, open to discussion, outdated or even wrong.
The error would thus be part of learning and evolution; forgiveness, part of the evolution process of man or soul for those who believe in it.
His famous phrase “To err is human, but it is also human to forgive. Forgiving is proper to generous souls ”, it never made so much sense - 2500 years later. I used to do it before, but in the midst of our individualism and the race for tomorrow, we simply forget - or even less interesting - something that is not part of (some) us.
In order not to confuse you and think that I consider everything to be forgivable, it is important in our day-to-day life to distinguish “error” from “negligence”. “Negligence” is a red alert or even a definite assumption for the most negative of any relationship, be it professional, personal or loving. Whether there is a return to give or not, it is up to each one.
The “mistake” is necessary, in which the attitude towards it is the challenge that will differentiate us.
In the daily madness of capitalism, the error is a waste of time, it is intolerable, it is a lump in the throat, it wears out relationships, decreasing the morale of those who do it and, at the same time, increases the psychological power of those who lead over the errant. This makes relationships preserved and cynical.
"Incompetent", "incapable", "inexperienced" are characteristics that we attribute to those who make mistakes, which in fact appear even in the definitions of literary terms of the word "error" itself. Now, let us do the following exercise: raise your hand if you have never been, or did not feel one of these three adjectives at various times in your life (mine was down and it is not just because I am writing this article).
If we look at the paths of the greatest entrepreneurs at national and world level, they all went through negative moments, made mistakes, learned and came back stronger.
Hence, one of the most positive points that I find in this crisis is to see how “the high sphere” of our society (politicians, scientists, journalists, specialists) has been consistently and consistently wrong, most of them to assume and quickly admit the error. Attention, who not everyone, naturally! But from there, the real leaders of the present and future are also separated, from the managers proudly perfect in their imperfection.
And in your companies, how are your leaders managing their mistakes and yours?
As a collaborator, how do you deal with your mistake and your leader's mistake?
Finally, there is a constant message that new challenges appear every day with this virus, so it is normal that we are not ready, we have different interpretations, we misinterpret, and consequently new mistakes are made.
The question I leave is: Did this not, does it and will it be part of our life? Or do we think we can control and predict the future?
Humility, Solidarity and Forgiveness that come to stay and that are not a simple preamble of our life.