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Transformations and a hybrid workforce

A conversation with Seth Goldstrom

Many organizations have adopted a hybrid or fully remote workforce in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. McKinsey senior partner Seth Goldstrom talks about leading transformations in this new dynamic.

Seth Goldstrom:

One of the challenges we’ve observed during the pandemic has been, how do you lead a large-scale transformation in a world where much of your workforce is hybrid or fully remote? In that context, we’ve learned a few things that are important. Some of those are things that we’ve known for a long time, but they’ve become even more important with a hybrid and virtual workforce.

1. The change story

The first is that it’s become even more important for there to be a clear change story that resonates throughout the organization. People need to understand not just what we’re doing but why we’re doing it and how the transformation advances the broader organization’s goals. That “why” needs to translate in a way that’s personal and meaningful.

2. Agile collaboration

Second, to get things done in the virtual context, we’ve really had to rely more on collaboration tools that allow people to work with each other in an agile way. Leveraging web-based software around initiative tracking has really made a big difference. These tools help to foster collaboration around hundreds or thousands of ideas and allow people to give input to each other while maintaining a clear picture on how things are going. This includes benchmarking on how long things should take, how you go about sizing, what the milestones are, and visibility into what others are doing for similar kinds of ideas. They also allow people to comment on all of that in the context of the initiatives that they’re driving.

3. Balancing incentives

Finally, it’s become even more important to balance the incentivizing of initiative owners as well as the broader team. Incentives should be a mixture centered around three buckets: What am I driving as an individual? How do I support my team? And finally, how do I support the broader organization? We’ve really seen a push to try to have much more of a mix of incentives across all three of those buckets, as opposed to focusing on one or two.

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