The power of setting clear expectations

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We had a great time attending the Global Peter Drucker Forum in Vienna at the end of November. It’s always such an inspiring environment – a chance to lead a discussion, engage in discussion, and listen and take note of some wonderful nuggets of advice, opinion, and insight.  

It’s certainly been an interesting few years for business leaders, a period defined by dramatic shifts in how we work, and at the Forum, I discussed some of the frequent issues facing modern organizations. Notably, there is the continued debate about how to get the best out of your workforce and how to modify your leadership style to handle the hybrid working model that has emerged as the dominant force since the pandemic. 

Truth is, for lots of leaders/managers, old habits are hard to change, and in their minds, hard work still equals showing up in the office more frequently – to them, a full office acts as proof that you’re on the right track. But that’s not the world we live in anymore, and, more pertinently, the question of how to keep your workforce invigorated is as old as time. 

If you saw my session at the Drucker Forum, you will have heard me quote a 3,000-year-old proverb about this: “Trustworthy employees refresh like snow in summer. They revive the spirit of their employer.”  

Yet despite the evidence stacking up against it, there appears to be momentum towards returning to the office. The recent KMPG CEO Outlook survey found that 64% of CEOs expect to see a “full return” by 2026. Whether or not their wish comes true (I’m yet to be fully convinced), one thing is for certain – they will need to employ extreme levels of transparency to bring a modern workforce back to the office without risking disruption. 

On the other hands, many CEOs I know and speak to are all concerned about the lack of productivity across certain roles and functions in their business that have resulted from being remote, where there isn’t that opportunity for face-to-face conversation, unplanned inspiring moments, and even innovation that often happens when you’re working in the room with others.  
All of us who are in roles where we lead and manage others will need to work on being more intentional and open about what we expect from each other and our teams, regardless of how remote we are or not. Truthfully, it’s not even about hours in the office or hours worked – it really comes down to performance and productivity for most roles. 

Caring for an investing in people means that we start with clarity and maintain an open dialogue on how we work better together. 

Let’s look forward to a 2024 filled with opportunities to be a better company and to build stronger relationships in our team.