Date: 2nd September 2020

Author: Murali Santhanam

It’s a Mindset and a Paradigm Shift

Work from Anywhere (WFA), is a paradigm shift. Not an easy transition for anyone, be it the CEO or a fresher straight from college. WFA comes with its own set of challenges – completely opposite to the way we have worked traditionally within an office and most often, in close physical proximity.

Remote working however, is not just about providing network connectivity. It requires a mental connect too, the human touch, even with virtual teams. The challenges with remote working for both employee and manager are many. To name a few, how will hiring be done remotely? How will work be allocated? How will outcomes be managed? How will teams be coached? How will teams learn? How will performance be managed? How can reward programs be run? How will we keep the workforce engaged?

What works in an office environment might not be as effective when employees are dispersed. People have to be managed differently and creatively remotely.

Will empowerment and trust start playing a more important role in how we get our teams to perform? Will “Out of sight” really become out of mind?
Human Capital Management teams will need to shed traditional processes and systems and look at novel ways to help managers manage people.

A Welcome Disruption that forces positive change

The 5Ps of people management have been successful in many organizations, when implemented well. However, whether they will continue to be as effective in the evolving post-pandemic environment is highly debatable. In The coming days and in future, it is imperative to adapt and transform the 5Ps into the 5Ts – to enable your teams to take ownership and be productive without the need to work from the same location. We must support them with the right employee experience to ensure they stay engaged irrespective of their work location.

As part of this thought process, we will look at the traditional 5Ps and how we should shift to the 5Ts, which are entirely focused on behaviors – ‘The How” takes extra effort to sensitize and re-focus the way we manage people. Moving away from the 5Ps - the “hard factors”, which is ‘The What” to the soft and behavior focused Ts is the need of the hour.

Let’s start by looking at what the 5Ps are and then show a compelling reason to transition to the 5Ts. The pandemic has made this a Hobson’s choice. However, it is a great opportunity for us to to redefine our people management styles and approach.

What are the 5Ps of People Management?

The 5Ps of People Management that were being followed until now,
1. Philosophy: Expressed in statements defining business values and culture. It expresses how to treat and value people.
2. Policies: Expressed as shared values and guidelines. Policies establish guidelines for action on people related business issues and HR programs.
3. Programs: Articulated as human resource strategy. These coordinate efforts to facilitate change to address major people-related business issues.
4. Practices: For leadership, managerial and operational role practices motivate needed role behaviours.
5. Processes: For the formulation and implementation of other activities, these define how activities are carried out.

5t's shown as 5 circles inside each other

1. TRUST is the foundation of relationships. Trust is also the foundation on which the other 4Ts are built. Trust begets trust. A trusting manager creates mature employees. Not easy to build if it was not there in the first place. Trust is very easy to practice, once we understand its benefits. A few employees or managers behaving in an untrustworthy manner, can set one back by many steps progressed through a trusting demeanor. Mutual trust and respect must become one of the driving values for every organization to practice.

An example of trust during WFH, for instance, is that a manager, will have no doubt that employees will indeed work from home as they would in office. There is no question of the manager asking, “When did you login”? or “How long did you work today?” However, questions such as” How are you doing with the work assigned today?” “Do you need any help?” “Will you be able to deliver the assigned work as committed?” should be trust questions.

2. TOLERANCE among the most important of all the Ts. Tolerance is a virtue. Virtue comes from one’s belief in oneself and others. Tolerance is not to be confused with lenience. For one to be tolerant, one needs to demonstrate the behaviors of empathy, understanding, openness and sensitivity. Managers and employees need to consciously practice demonstrating Tolerance in all interactions and drive support and understanding.

An example of tolerant behavior is to communicate that they understand the difficulty faced, and therefore ask in advance. A manager can help to ensure the work is successfully completed using sentences such as, “I know it is a difficult problem to solve, and you can call me or speak to the specialist in the team, who has been told to give you all the support”. Instead, in most cases, the discussion hovers around communication that says, “I have been very patient, but you do not seem to appreciate it”, or “I do not understand, how to make you responsible”. These intolerant words spoken in frustration or pressure causes a breach of trust and sensitivity.

3. THOUGHTFULNESS is a behavior that comes from concern and care. It is very important for managers and employees to proactively understand and act in the interest of an individual or team, not waiting for challenges to surface. The key facilitator for thoughtfulness is to continuously be in touch with the team members individually and as a team, so as a manager you will have a good idea of who requires support and extra hands and what some of them or the entire team is struggling with. Thoughtfulness is an outcome of trust and tolerance. Knowing the pulse of the team members, showing empathy and sensitivity leads to thoughtfulness. Thoughtfulness must lead to an action that enables; and removes unspoken hindrances or challenges in a proactive way.

A good example of thoughtfulness is knowing that the team worked late into the night for a week to deliver a commitment and acknowledging and appreciating the commitment and effort openly. Adding a reward, whether non-monetary or monetary, and ensuring the reward is timely and immediate, leads to thoughtful action. Going even further, rewarding the team for exemplary work or effort, even if it did not satisfy the customer. In situations such as this, the manager should clearly communicate that expectations were not met but appreciate the effort, in addition to asking the team what they would do better next time. Telling the team, they put in all the effort, but customer dissatisfaction means that, the team failed, is thoughtless and undesirable. These words deflate and demotivate, It is okay to fail, but working with the team to learn from failure is an example of being thoughtful.

4. TENACITY refers to persistence and perseverance. Persistence is the ability to not let go, staying the course inspite of difficulty or challenges. Perseverance, on the contrary refers to, steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. Overcoming challenges, taking help where required and staying on course is required more than ever during these times.

A good example of Tenacity would be to demonstrate to the team, that the work to be delivered is tough and even if the team makes mistakes, it is alright. We will learn from the mistakes. The manager backs up the team to the hilt. Stay on course and ask for help whenever you hit a roadblock. Giving up is very easy, but should not be the option. At the same time, being persistent and perseverant can put a lot of pressure on the team. The important thing is to use Tolerance and Tenacity together.

5. TARGET Targets are often treated as numbers, percentages or specific measurable metrics. Keeping one’s eye on the target is an indicator of focus and single-mindedness. Yet, what we often don’t understand about a target is not just “What” is to be achieved, but “How” it is to be achieved. That makes all the difference. Belief in oneself and belief in a team that says, “Yes we can”. It is also the disposition of every employee and manager that makes them demonstrate completeness. Quality of outcomes is more important than quantity. Keeping one’s eye on the ball and avoiding last mile problems is a key element of target orientation.

An example of a behavior demonstrating target orientation would be, “How did you go about achieving the completion of the work assigned?”

“What tools and resources have you used and has it helped?” instead of “You were to complete this work by 4 PM, why have you not completed it?” or “You were supposed to have zero errors, why were there two errors?” In most cases, the target is always associated with a “Why” question” instead of a “How” question. The “Why” question is judgmental, but the “How” questions are facilitative and help achieve the target.

Managers need to work on each of these and try them out using examples given for each. It takes time, but the secret to success is to keep trying. Patience and perseverance do pay eventually. The more one keeps trying, the more easily it becomes second nature.