Sunday, 8 July 2012

How will the Olympics change the way that you work?

This year’s Olympics and Paralympics will be the biggest sporting events to hit the UK in living memory and already Olympic fever is building. However the Olympics will present a number of challenges to managers and leaders. Not least the possibility of having to manage disrupted travel, increased absenteeism, loss of focus and dealing with heightened emotion. There will also be employees who may not be interested in the games but who could still be affected by the actions of others.

Whilst such a major event could pose problems none of them are insurmountable. Much has been written, and there is plenty of guidance available, to manage the logistics of having to travel into London, hosting virtual meetings, equipping people to work remotely and creating policies to manage unexplained sickness and absence. Everything that a good manager might need is out there somewhere waiting to be planned, organised and implemented. How about the leadership side of the equation? A useful model to use to consider that balance between management and leadership is the view presented by John P Kotter:

Consists of planning and budgeting; organising and staffing; controlling and problem solving in order to produce a degree of predictability and order. It has the potential to consistently produce the short-term results expected by various stakeholders (e.g., for customers, always being on time; for stockholders, always being on budget).

Consists of establishing direction; aligning people; motivating and inspiring in order to produce change, often to a dramatic degree. It has the potential to produce extremely useful change (e.g., new products that customers want, new approaches to labour relations that help make a firm more competitive).
Source: A Force for Change: How Leadership Differs from Management. John P Kotter © 1990 The Free Press

Potential2Achieve have considerable experience in working with organisations to move to a more flexible way of working, see our case study Supporting cultural change through workspace design for more detail. We work with leaders and teams to create and build the culture that supports long-term change, often this can be as a result of needing to manage a short-term immediate need. Good leaders will use the Olympics as opportunity to engage positively with their people, setting a future direction, increasing engagement and encouraging mutual respect and goodwill.

The Olympics presents a unique occasion to bring about long term change in the way that people work and to create and embed a culture of engagement. If nothing else the Olympics provide an opportunity to lift the spirits of the UK during this tough economic climate and encourage people to come together. We say let’s embrace it, what do you think?