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Leading Off
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The holidays now feel like a distant memory, COVID-19 vaccines are circulating, and it’s time to consider how you’ll train your employees and thrive in a vastly changed business environment. The pandemic has highlighted the crucial role that capabilities play in maintaining agility, resilience, and competitive verve. As just one example of how crucial, an employer survey in the United Kingdom showed that 75 percent of reskilling cases make economic sense for employers. Let’s brief you on the options in a world of work in flux—from remote to in-person to hybrid work. Learn from leaders who are connecting the dots between capabilities and personal purpose and not letting the virus slow down their need to train those they lead.
Hybrid models of remote work are here to stay
The World Economic Forum reports that 84 percent of employers are set to rapidly digitalize working processes, a trend that was underway before the pandemic struck. Now, technological and cultural changes mean that more than 20 percent of the workforce could work from home—four times as many who did before the pandemic. In this webinar, McKinsey experts Stacey Dietsch and Liz McNally parse the special challenges inherent in building capabilities from a distance.
The percentage of surveyed businesspeople, many of them executives, who said they don’t have a clear plan for developing the capabilities they designated as priorities. Across the globe, there’s a big disconnect around employee skill building.
A big number exhibit
Capability building is becoming more important during the pandemic than ever. To understand why, check out our survey, which also found that nearly four out of five respondents considered capability building as very or extremely important to their organizations’ long-term growth, compared with 59 percent who said that this was true before the pandemic.
“Leaders have also seen how their teams have shown up during the crisis to accomplish incredible things, and they won’t soon forget that impact.”
That’s Mary Meaney, a senior partner in McKinsey’s Paris office. In a recent interview with CNBC, she addressed why lifelong learning is crucial to building capabilities and how individual and corporate purpose can revitalize organizations coming out of the pandemic.
Mary Meaney
Mary Meaney
Mary Meaney, a senior partner based in Paris and the co-leader of McKinsey’s Organization Practice, works with a broad range of clients in all sectors on performance and organizational health issues. She recently spoke with CNBC about reimagining organizations as part of a knowledge partnership.
What has the COVID-19 crisis taught organizations at a fundamental level?
Given the acceleration of digital during the pandemic, companies have had to operate at a pace unimaginable beforehand. Now leaders want to understand how they can hardwire these behavior changes into the organization so that they remain strong in the years ahead. A lifelong approach to learning will be an important factor to success. For example, technology skills are becoming obsolete faster because of the pace of digitization, so in order for organizations—and their talent—to thrive, they must remain curious; have a learning mindset; and have an ability to reskill, renew, and innovate.
What should organizations that want to reimagine the way they do business ask themselves?
Even before the pandemic, there were many megatrends—such as digital, automation, an increasing focus on purpose, and changing consumer expectations—that were affecting global companies. The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated those trends. We’ve been looking at the three questions organizations that want to succeed over time must answer. First, on the simplest level, who are we? Organizations need to identify their purpose, understand how they create value, and develop a unique, purpose-driven culture. The second question: How do we operate? Companies that are more agile, have a flatter structure, make decisions faster, and put their talent into critical roles are poised to thrive. And the third: How do we grow? Organizations that have resilient ecosystems, the right technology and data platforms, and a learning mindset are far more likely to succeed and thrive over time.
In the CNBC segment, you said that having a “resonant purpose” has never been more important when it comes to motivating talent and driving deep change. Why has purpose become a critical priority for leaders?
Before the COVID-19 crisis, 82 percent of US employees said it was important for organizations to have a compelling purpose—but only 42 percent said their company’s stated purpose had much effect. This year, as leaders have navigated the pandemic, they’ve realized they’re responsible for more than just shareholder value. Belonging matters, and we are all interconnected in ways we couldn’t have imagined before COVID-19.
Leaders have also seen how their teams have shown up during the crisis to accomplish incredible things, and they won’t soon forget that impact. So I think the bar on purpose is only getting higher, but purpose has to go far beyond nice statements on posters in the office. Employees are really looking at how organizations operate to deliver on those commitments—and the choices and decisions their leaders make.
Download our 200-page collection, The Next Normal: Reimagining the Postpandemic Organization, which accompanies our multimedia series with CNBC.
illustration of a robot
“The time we share is precious,” says Tim Welsh, the vice chairman of consumer and business banking at U.S. Bank. Welsh believes that “human capabilities need to progress at the same rate as technology, such as artificial intelligence or robotics.” In this interview, he describes how setting an environment of mission, purpose, and individual generosity is central to building capabilities that achieve strategic outcomes.
Mind the gap
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Let’s face it, building capabilities that durably change workforce behavior has never been easy, and the pandemic has only made it harder. But some organizations have found ways to both build capabilities and thrive during the crisis and beyond. As you train and build a workforce for a new landscape of work, they’re worth a deep look.
Lead well.
— Edited by Bill Javetski, an executive editor in McKinsey’s New Jersey office
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