CHICAGO — Because employee expectations and the nature of business are constantly evolving, owners of labor-intensive companies such as laundry businesses need to recognize these changes and adapt to the times. Otherwise, they will constantly struggle to fill their labor needs and the atmosphere of their company will suffer.
This was Dirk Beveridge’s message during his webinar, “Reimagining Leadership in a Post-Pandemic World,” hosted by the University of Innovative Distribution (UID). The webinar was made available to Textile Care Allied Trades Association (TCATA) members through partnership with UID.
Beveridge founded the strategy firm UnleashWD, and has been a consultant to a wide range of companies to strengthen their sales and leadership strategies.
During the webinar, he shared some of the findings he’s gathered from surveys and from visiting dozens of different companies each of the last two summers, speaking with hundreds of workers and leaders in the process. These findings, Beveridge believes, can be applied to almost any industry because the forces at play are universal.
Part 1 of this article began to address what he calls the Great Redefinition, made up of external forces, internal forces and people forces, all colliding in an unprecedented way. Let’s look at internal forces:
The internal forces, Beveridge says, are the ones that leaders must deal with and can at least have some agency over, although it could be limited.
“These are the challenges that you and I have in terms of attracting talent,” he says. “The challenges we have in retaining team members, and the succession that has taken place in our organizations. This includes the blending of generations in our businesses, the shifting needs and wants of employees and customers, margin pressures, and so on.”
And, while all these subjects need to be addressed to ensure the continued health of the owner’s company, leaders who ignore the third facet of the Great Redefinition, what Beveridge calls the people forces, will be facing an uphill battle.
“I really believe that for years, we’ve talked about the disruption that our companies are facing,” Beveridge says. “But in reality, when you look at the last two and a half years, through COVID, and coming out of COVID, I believe that we as human beings, have been disrupted. Your employees, your team members, your peers — the individual has been disrupted. And, I believe, at a greater degree than even our companies have been disrupted.”
Part of this disruption comes from elements such as working with an increasingly diverse labor market and dealing with new business models, such as hybrid workforces.
These “people forces” include increased social pressures that have taken on new weight over the past few years.
“There’s the polarization of social and political views,” Beveridge says. “Three, four or five years ago, we didn’t have any problem talking about social or political issues in our organizations. But now, have any of you lost or almost lost a family member or a friend because over the water cooler or at a barbecue, you started talking, and then, all of a sudden, you started clashing? I’m not proud of it, but I have.”
Other elements of people forces include the human toll of COVID, a shifting definition of work, and more desire for a better work/life balance.
“Everything is being redefined,” Beveridge believes, saying that changes are constantly coming, thanks in part to new technology, changing customer behaviors, the needs of employees, shifting marketing options, and other workplace realities.
Owners who play by a decades-old playbook in personnel management, Beveridge says, are setting themselves and their teams up for failure.
“It only makes sense,” he says, “that, if everything around us has been redefined, we need to reimagine leadership.”
LEADERSHIP’S INFLECTION POINT
“There are fewer people who want to work the way society has structured work,” Beveridge says, based on his research and interviews. “If that’s not a call to action for you and I to rethink how we lead our teams and organizations — to lead ourselves — going forward, I don’t know what is.”
Beveridge believes that leaders have to redefine what the very term “leadership” means, both to themselves and to their employees.
It is at an inflection point, he believes.
Check back Tuesday for the conclusion!
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected] .