The Revolution of Listening and Empowering Flexibility
tags: leadership,business,decision making,wise decision making,leadership development,cognitive bias,decision-making process,leaders,work from home,hybrid work,remote work
In a world where the future of work is rapidly evolving, it's crucial to listen to your employees and empower flexibility. The time has come for the business world to embrace the mantra of listen, learn, and adapt. That’s the take-away message from my interview with Wendy Hamilton, CEO of TechSmith. She provides a compelling insight into how her company has embraced a culture of listening to employees and fostering flexibility in their work environment.
A Revolutionary Experiment: Bidding Farewell to Synchronous Meetings
Hamilton described how TechSmith took a bold step by going an entire month without synchronous meetings. By adopting an asynchronous culture, employees could communicate and share information at their convenience, thus reducing unnecessary meetings. The outcome was impressive - 85% of employees felt they could replace meetings with asynchronous communication, leading to a 15% productivity improvement.
The experiment was not about eliminating meetings altogether but rather becoming more intentional about why and when they're necessary. Hamilton said that “Ultimately, TechSmith reduced the total amount of meeting time by 37% and reduced the number of meeting participants in the meetings by 24%.” Managers learned the importance of distinguishing between emotional or high-energy discussions that required synchronous meetings and other matters that could be handled asynchronously.
The Science of Experimentation: Embracing Failure and Learning
For organizations considering a similar approach, Hamilton highlights the importance of viewing experiments as learning opportunities. With a culture of continuous improvement and a willingness to fail, companies can test hypotheses, gather data, and adapt accordingly.
The experiment allowed TechSmith to recognize the need for giving employees better tools for decision-making and communication. By embracing different methods of communication and allowing staff to explore what works best for them, the company moved towards a more employee-centric approach.
The Rise of Hybrid Work: Flexibility Meets Productivity
With a flex 20 work policy, TechSmith enables employees to work in-office 20% of the time while enhancing remote work skills. This balance has proved to be effective for team collaboration, cohesion, and intense conversations. By actively listening to employees, Hamilton believes that companies can find the right balance for their workforce.
While some CEOs opt for a top-down approach to returning to the office, TechSmith's Hamilton emphasizes the importance of listening to employees and understanding their needs. This employee-first strategy aims to create a more inclusive and flexible work environment that benefits both staff and the company's long-term sustainability.
Building a thriving culture in hybrid work environments requires intentionality and a focus on long-term sustainable performance. TechSmith identified weaknesses in their culture, such as new remote employees lacking strong relationships outside their immediate team, and took steps to address these concerns. By creating social opportunities both virtually and in the office, TechSmith is nurturing a healthy and productive work culture.
A Shift in Communication: From Email to Instant Messaging
Interestingly, TechSmith observed a trend towards using internal messaging platforms over traditional email. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, employees experienced communication overload and platform overload, with senior leaders primarily using email and engineers using instant messaging.
The result was a disjointed communication flow and increased stress for employees. TechSmith took the bold step of overhauling their communication practices, with Hamilton now only using email for external communications. This cultural shift towards instant messaging has led to increased efficiency and better communication within the company.
The Power of Video: Enhancing Clarity and Engagement
Beyond instant messaging, Hamilton also emphasizes the importance of video in facilitating hybrid work. By using screen capture and video editing software, employees can create and share long-form content that can be consumed at the viewer's convenience. This method proves to be more engaging and effective than traditional PowerPoint presentations during meetings, allowing employees to absorb information at their own pace.
For example, TechSmith's CFO discovered the advantages of using screen capture to explain cash flow spreadsheets, as opposed to hosting a meeting to walk through the details. This approach allowed employees to watch and process the information at their own pace, resulting in better understanding and increased productivity.
TechSmith also helped their clients successfully navigate hybrid work. TechSmith specializes in helping clients transform knowledge into video, which proved to be invaluable during the pandemic. Through software screencasts and flipped learning, TechSmith's solutions allowed organizations to effectively convey important information in a digestible and engaging format.
Lessons from TechSmith: A Blueprint for the Future of Work
TechSmith's innovative approach to work provides valuable insights for other organizations looking to navigate the future of work. By listening to employees, embracing flexibility, and fostering a culture of continuous improvement, companies can achieve greater productivity, engagement, and retention in a rapidly changing world.
The key to unlocking a brighter future for work lies in understanding the importance of listening to employees and empowering flexibility. TechSmith's revolutionary approach provides a glimpse into what the future might hold for other organizations looking to adapt to the changing landscape of work. By adopting an employee-first mentality, leveraging technology, and fostering a culture of learning and adaptation, companies can ensure they're well-equipped to face the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in the world of work. So, buckle up and embrace the ride, for it's time to rewrite the rules of the game and create a brighter, more flexible future for all.
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Image credit: Mikael Blomkvist/Pexels
Originally published in Disaster Avoidance Experts on April 1, 2023.
Dr. Gleb Tsipursky was lauded as “Office Whisperer” and “Hybrid Expert” by The New York Times for helping leaders use hybrid work to improve retention and productivity while cutting costs. He serves as the CEO of the boutique future-of-work consultancy Disaster Avoidance Experts. Dr. Gleb wrote the first book on returning to the office and leading hybrid teams after the pandemic, his best-seller Returning to the Office and Leading Hybrid and Remote Teams: A Manual on Benchmarking to Best Practices for Competitive Advantage (Intentional Insights, 2021). He authored seven books in total, and is best know for his global bestseller, Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (Career Press, 2019). His cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 650 articles and 550 interviews in Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, USA Today, CBS News, Fox News, Time, Business Insider, Fortune, and elsewhere. His writing was translated into Chinese, Korean, German, Russian, Polish, Spanish, French, and other languages. His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training for Fortune 500 companies from Aflac to Xerox. It also comes from over 15 years in academia as a behavioral scientist, with 8 years as a lecturer at UNC-Chapel Hill and 7 years as a professor at Ohio State. A proud Ukrainian American, Dr. Gleb lives in Columbus, Ohio. In his free time, he makes sure to spend abundant quality time with his wife to avoid his personal life turning into a disaster. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, follow him on LinkedIn @dr-gleb-tsipursky, Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, Facebook @DrGlebTsipursky, Medium @dr_gleb_tsipursky, YouTube, and RSS, and get a free copy of the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace by signing up for the free Wise Decision Maker Course at https://disasteravoidanceexperts.com/newsletter/.
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