The #1 HR trend for 2016: redesigning work

In redesigning work, organisations are in need of new talent practices

Organisations are in need of new talent practices to help people lead these teams, connect teams together, and facilitate the movement of people from team to team, writes Josh Bersin

We just completed the Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends 2016 report and found some surprising results: this year, the number one human capital challenge around the world is the need to “redesign the organisation” to adapt to the new digital world of work. Ninety-two per cent of all companies told us they are struggling with this issue, and only 14 per cent believe they know the right solution.

The essential problem is that digital tools and free flow of information have changed the way we work. While companies look like traditional functional hierarchies, more and more of us now work in project or customer-based teams. When run well, these teams run quickly – iterating, improving and solving problems. We need new talent practices to help people lead these teams, connect teams together, and facilitate the movement of people from team to team.

This new organisation, which we call “a network of teams”, is familiar to most of us. It reminds us of the military, of school projects, of a customer pursuit, or any other project we’ve worked on in our careers. While team-based work is natural and highly productive, it changes the way we set goals, the way we lead and the way people are rewarded.

Following the lead of high performing companies
Our research shows that high-performing companies now challenge many assumptions: the traditional model of “upward mobility”, for example. In a team-based company your skills and ability define your value, not your “position” or job title. You may lead one day and follow the next, and your value to the company is highly dependent on who you know, who trusts you and the “followship” you engender.

Digital tools, a multi-generational workforce and the rapid change of business models have all collided to create this new organisation. We call it “different by design”, because you have to reflect that this is how we work, and design to support it. New disciplines like design thinking, always-on learning and performance improvement, and open and transparent feedback are all crucial to success. Why is the annual performance engagement being replaced by an always-on feedback system? Why is performance management becoming a regular check-in process? Why is culture so important? Because these are the practices that help make a network work well.

Where redesigning work meets HR
In many ways, these structural issues are fundamental to all the exciting work we’re doing in HR and leadership today. Understanding, supporting and reinforcing the new way we work is part of our jobs in HR – I believe the “network of teams” idea will give you many of the insights to design the most valuable new talent and HR programs in your career.

Top 5 takeaways for HR

  1. Ninety-two per cent of companies surveyed now believe “redesigning or improving structure” is critical to their success.
  2. High-performing organisations today tend to operate as “networks of teams”, with highly empowered leaders and individuals.
  3. Skills and relationships are the new currency of success, not a fancy title or job position.
  4. A focus on an integrated culture and open feedback are key to bringing teams together, creating alignment, and preventing people working at cross purposes.
  5. A new breed of skilled, more agile hands-on leader is needed to thrive in today’s network of teams.

Image source: iStock