The Dark Side Of Corporate Evolution And Its Greatest Opportunity

When mentioning the word “evolution,” some people visualize popular images such as the transition from monkey to human or a tree showing how all the species are connected. Others completely reject the entire concept.

Nowadays, the term is often used in a different context, in terms of personal, professional and organizational development. It is used to suggest that an individual or organization is intentionally working on growth and adaptability. The idea can be empowering until you understand how natural selection works.

A while ago, I was thinking about evolution, and I could see animals thinking about what kind of skills they need to develop, what kind of body parts they need to redesign so they could be even more efficient in coping with new challenges. The reality is much darker.

Evolution in nature was not about intentionally getting better but the survival of those lucky enough to be born with some mutation more adapted to the new environment while most of the “old models” died out.MORE FROMFORBES ADVISORBest High-Yield Savings Accounts Of September 2023ByKevin PayneContributorBest 5% Interest Savings Accounts of September 2023ByCassidy HortonContributor

The fast-paced, ever-changing world of business is very similar to that process. It gradually and brutally takes out the “old models” way before they realize it is too late to change.

Trying harder at the same thing is not adaptation but an expensive scream for help. Companies that cannot attract, keep and engage the best employees won’t be able to serve their clients who want to feel valued and understood. Let’s be honest; they have plenty of options to choose from.

It is clear that the employee engagement scores have lost the improvement trend despite many organizations investing a fortune in popular programs, they are back to nearly the level they were 10 years ago, and the predicted upcoming global talent shortage of 85 million people by 2030 is undoubtedly flashing the warning

As humans, we always have options. We can choose to ignore the signs, or we can make a more informed decision to actively get ready for the future.

As a Chinese proverb often attributed to philosopher Zhu Xi over 800 years ago goes: “Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to dig a well.”

When we face danger, we have three options. We run away, we freeze, or we fight.

In reality, there is only one option in this case: we need to fight in a smart way. That is where the real opportunity is waiting for us.

Competitors are not the real enemy here; they are not the ones we should waste energy on destroying; otherwise, there won’t be enough left to develop new skills and forge new alliances.

One of the biggest mistakes I have seen as an executive coach in the last 10 years is that companies have become extremely good at solving problems that are not the real issues. They believe that the amount of money, familiarity and quality of packaging of solutions directly correlate to the quality of the results they are going to get.

Winning the marketplace and the workplace requires the right conditions. A total of 1.4 million employee reviews were analyzed using the Natural Employee Language Understanding platform to identify which factors were most important in predicting a company’s overall culture score. The result was not surprising: whether employees feel respected is 18 times more powerful as a predictor of a company’s culture rating compared with the average topic.

Feeling respected was followed by the desire for supportive leaders who lived up to core values and got rid of toxic managers and unethical behavior.

Most of the up-to-date research comes up with the same outcome, even if they phrase it differently or break it down in a more granular fashion. People want to work in a psychologically safe and motivating culture enabled by a high level of cultural intelligence where they can turn their differences into synergy.

The latest white paper by Baiba Žiga and Alexandra Kafka, based on interviews with businesses in the United Kingdom, ranging from agile start-ups to formidable enterprise-level entities spanning various industries, identifies seven key challenges organizations must confront to foster a culture of engagement and wellbeing. The surprising finding was that the fundamental challenges faced by these organizations in improving employee engagement and well-being, along with the strategies employed to address them, were remarkably universal.

Not only were the challenges similar, but also the approach. Only 30% of those companies measured engagement by surveys to collect data, and 0% of them measured psychological safety, which is the foundation of engagement and the number one trait of high-performing teams.

All the current data and future trends point toward the same direction. Investing in employees is going to provide the highest ROI and chance of survival.

There are three key actions organizations can implement to get the best results most efficiently.

• Create meaningful conversations driven by data and rooted in science. Trying to optimize something without understanding its components and how it works is not an option. Assessments can provide only data, but people give you insights, the ones that can make a real difference to them and, ultimately, to your business.

• Give people the amount of autonomy they can handle. Too much freedom without structure and the capabilities to create it can lead to the same amount of anxiety as micromanaging the wrong people. Personal and cultural differences vastly differ, and that is a reason why relying on common sense and good intentions in this topic can result in less than suboptimal outcomes. Knowing what they want is not always what they need.

• Help employees develop the right skills to build their own awareness and cultural intelligence so they can lead themselves even better than they can manage other people who think and behave differently.

There is no diamond without pressure, as the saying goes, and right now, there is more and more pressure on organizations to become intentional about evolution, shed what does not work anymore and double down on what matters the most: their people.

Csaba Toth
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Csaba Toth

Founder at ICQ Global
Author of Uncommon Sense in Unusual Times, developer of the multi award-winning Global DISC model
Csaba Toth
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