(Do You Still Matter in the Digital Age?)
There has been an increased sense of recognition within the corporate leadership that the days of ‘Business as Usual’ are over in the Digital Age that is being shaped by the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is already manifesting in corporate decision-making in a number of ways, e.g., amplified focus on optimizing ‘core’ headcount, reformation of organizational structures/hierarchies, gravitation towards reducing office space, scrambling for increasing online presence, formulating hybrid working mechanisms, revising and reinforcement of risk management plans, greater sensitivity to health and wellbeing issues, etc.
This has a significant ‘human’ cost as professionals are often left in a quandary with respect to their own ‘worthiness’ in such a precarious work environment. It is being exacerbated by the combination of several escalating factors, e.g., uncertainty of a ‘planned’ career path and progression, narrowing windows of opportunity for growth and development as organizations struggle with staying afloat, rising demand for cross functional/multidimensional skill sets that go beyond the current ‘norms’ of ‘acceptable’ qualifications, rapid deployment of advanced technology in the workplace to counter ‘hurdles’ associated with maintaining a ‘human’ workforce, multigenerational tussles and jostling for equity in the ‘talent’ space, etc.
Many professionals start questioning their own abilities in terms of being able to ‘stay in the game’ as the stack of chips stacked against them rises appreciably. This beckons the need for profound self-reflection and the necessity for sustaining clarity of purpose that serves as a robust beacon of hope during ‘dark’ times. Following are some of the key questions that can facilitate the respective process accordingly:
• Are you being treated kindly at your workplace?
• Is an influencer/power broker/decision-maker genuinely listening to your concerns and addressing them effectively in a timely manner?
• Are your career prospects residing in uncertainty due to an influx of existential challenges, e.g., AI-enabled entities, pandemic-driven corporate policies, economic downturn, etc.?
• Are you empowered to take initiatives in your organization and are your achievements lauded while mistakes treated as ‘learning lessons’ for growth and development?
• Do you have a capable mentor for seeking personal and professional guidance and facilitation?
• Are you willing to take help in overcoming/managing physical and/or mental health challenges?
• Do you crave for a ‘moment of peace and solitude’ to rethink priorities in your life?
• Have you made a profoundly positive difference in someone’s life on a personal and/or professional basis?
• Do you seek a higher purpose and meaning in life than meeting the desires and expectations of those near and dear to you?
• Have you prevailed in difficult circumstances in the past that have enhanced your ability to overcome current predicaments and foreseen/unforeseen challenges in the future?
One of the simpler ways to achieving congruency between a meaningful existence as a person and as a professional can be done by keeping a record of the ‘Daily Ascertainment and Reflection of Significant Challenges and Achievements (DARSCA)’ by utilizing the following template:
The aforementioned template also serves as a valuable input for the growth and development of a professional in terms of soliciting the Key Success Factors (KSFs) in case of achievements and Lesson Learnt (LT) in case of failures. It can be further utilized as a useful aide in terms of carrying on a meaningful and productive conversation during a team meeting with peers and/or with the supervisor during a performance review session as a basis for initiating and implementing astute measures for assuring and ensuring effective Talent Management of a workforce that is reeling from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A broader analysis of the respective exercise can be done with the help of the following template that aggregates the significant challenges and corresponding achievements on a monthly basis:
The aforementioned template provides an expansive overview for a progressive professional to timely adjust his/her own priorities with respect to career growth and progression within the corporate hierarchy, especially, with reference to sustaining a prudent work-life balance. This is critical since, quite often, talented professionals tend to marginalize health and wellbeing concerns, hobbies and interests, family and friends, old contacts and acquaintances, etc., as they focus on career aspirations by embracing stressful conditions while trying to impress influential sources of power with their professional abilities. However, such ‘transient’ bonds cannot substitute the time-tested relationships that are needed in precarious situations, e.g., during the COVID-19 pandemic, to provide a strong and reliable support for recalibrating priorities in accordance with the ‘true’ passions.
From a corporate perspective, the era of ‘Employee Loyalty’ has been over for quite a while now; however, the concept of ‘Employment Partnership’ that was built on the ashes of organizational allegiance is also under threat. The new arrangement that is being ‘conventionalized’ within the corporate landscape is ‘Employee Gratification’, where attractive ‘Total Rewards’ packages peppered with delightful ‘Employee Experiences’ are customized to serve as ‘Golden Handcuffs’ on the desired talent as long as the organizations see a healthy Return-on-Investment (ROI)/Return-on-Effort (ROE) in terms of retaining them as part of their workforce. Consequently, organizations that can provide the strongest ‘jovial anchors’ for their employees are ‘gifted’ with the ‘strategic strength’ of having a healthy pool of ‘intrinsically-motivated’ and ‘engagement-driven’ talent gelling together for achieving resounding corporate success in competitive economies of the future. Such an ‘accommodation’ can be hugely beneficial for capable professionals who are more informed, incisively skilled and come prepared with a baggage of knowledge that enables leveraged negotiating targeted to achieve maximum goodwill with an employer who is frantically seeking amicable solutions for surviving the ‘turbulence’ of the COVID-19 pandemic. The key is to let go of the ‘opportunistic’ proclivities in the present and embrace the mantra of ‘we are all in it together’ for a profitable payback in the future from an ‘ingratiated’ employer.
Regaining the sense of purpose can be a daunting task for professionals who have been sensitized by the precariousness of the prevailing economic environment manifesting from the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it doesn’t have to be an ‘impossible’ one. This is the time when ‘true’ courage and ‘robust’ resilience is required. The determination to stay committed during nagging struggles on professional and personal levels, the steady focus during sleepless nights of self-reflection and the uncompromising valor in neutralizing the fear of failure are the three ‘hidden’ attributes of a successful professional in a corporate landscape that is being significantly reformulated due to the lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic. The question for every progressive professional is: Will you define the moment or will you let the moment define you? Your future awaits the answer…
Murad is an innovative thinker and an astute practitioner of areas within and associated with the field of Organisational Development. Talent Management & Business Transformation. He has a rich history of delivering desired results for progressive organisations. His scholastic accomplishments have been affirmed by induction into Beta Gamma Sigma, and International Honour Society, as a Lifetime Member.