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The future of work… It’s too sexy!

But only because it’s distracting us from the Present of Work (though I’ll confess #POW makes an unenviable hashtag 🙈).

I’ve lost count of the futurists. The great predictors and prognosticators. They are a-plenty. And their work matters, for sure.

We need to have an eye toward the future; to plan for the digital, the generative.

Just…not at the expense of the present. The things happening here and now that we need, urgently, to address.

Because here are some very here-and-now themes I’m still hearing…that I don’t think GenAI is quite ready to fix.

We must focus on the burnout whose levels seem somehow to be moving in the wrong direction.

We need to equip our leaders with the fundamentals of leading through change which will neither slow nor stop anytime soon. Not overwrought frameworks, but simple, agile tools that drive simplicity and alignment.

We have to stop arguing over where we’re working, and lean instead into creating meaningful connections. However our teams are craving them.

So how do we do these things?

We run Pulse Checks. Not surveys (no more surveys!) but brief, open, connective conversations with our teams to better understand…

  • What’s driving, triggering, or amplifying these experiences
  • What small, simple actions might create quick hits of relief (every bit counts!)
  • What “a little bit better” might look or feel like (so we know what to watch for)
  • What next steps might follow

And then, we just test and learn.

The “right” answers are the ones provided by our teams.
But here are a handful of first steps I’ve helped clients implement, that yielded bigger-than-expected wins.

A healthcare company battling burnout:

A Pulse Check told us that a lack of consistency across different parts of the hospital led to constant confusion and rework. So, we identified the top 5 pain points and invited teams of employees to implement basic standardization. Bit of relief achieved!

A hospitality company struggling to “get people into the office”:

They hosted lots of in-office “fun” events. But people either skipped or showed up resentful. So we asked employees what would make their commute worthwhile. They wanted more shared opportunities to learn with and from each other. So, we implemented a lunch-and-learn series; started shared cross-team meetings; turned every other corporate Town Hall into a leadership “AMA.” Boost achieved.

A tech organization battling friction over collaboration:

Employees told us that roles and responsibilities were messy. So, we ran a single workshop during which “lanes” were clarified, handoffs defined, and decision rights polished. Much ease followed.

These are a handful of examples that may or may not resonate for your team. But the point is they are focused on understanding the present. They were quick wins identified by, with, and for the employees.

These present-focused conversations drive trust, engagement, and connection.

All of which sets us up for a much stronger future.