How 2020 Called BS On Work Norms

Over the course of 2020, what unnecessary “work fat” have you seen melt away for good?

It’s been happening in many organizations and become a welcome shift for those who crave the value of real work.

In a recent article from Boston Consulting Group, research has shown that over the last 50 years business complexity has multiplied almost sixfold. During that same period, organizational complicatedness has increased by 35x. “Roughly the square of complexity,” the authors concluded. It’s an insanely disproportionate response – and yet no one reading this article is likely shocked, either. Most of us have shaken our collective head at useless processes, ineffective meetings, and the like.

For leaders, it should sound the alarm about what our talent is truly focusing on day-to-day. Is it unnecessary process from a bygone era? Or are employees empowered to rally around real work – creating the kind of value that gives organizations an advantage in times of crisis?

Leaders can do a number of things here:

1. Understand the work your team actually does.  Not conceptually, but nuts-and-bolts. For many leaders, until now there hasn’t been a huge need to fully understand the day-to-day work of each employee. Now we really need to know what meaningless tasks may be holding talented staff back from high value work. Asking your questions like,”is this really necessary?” or “how does this serve the business?” can stimulate said discussions.

2. Be crystal clear about what really matters. Crisis breeds confusion, and those who are able to paint a clear picture for their teams can enable better performance, and less stress. Focus on what truly matters to the business.

3. Demand cooperation.  Teams need to be rowing in unison right now. Signal what good cooperation looks like – reward those who demonstrate it, and outline the consequences for those who don’t.

4. Foster connection. Ramp up the tempo of your interactions, and stay connected to your team (and skip levels where possible). Seeing leaders make this effort shows the team you are not sitting in the ivory tower, and have a vested interest in creating a cohesive unit.


What one thing can you do to help remove unnecessary processes within your team?