To keep the streak of accurate trend predictions alive, this year I've enrolled the help of Jim Barnett, CEO and co-founder of Glint (recently bought by LinkedIn), a technology-based platform that helps companies build a more engaged workplace--so net, an expert source.
Here are Barnett's biggest predictions (to which I also add advice for each).
1. The focus will shift from measuring employee performance to molding employee growth.
In many companies I've worked with, in recent years, I've seen too much focus on systems that measure, rate, and micro-assess employees. And yet, employee engagement scores aren't improving any (and are getting worse in many cases).
Many companies are recognizing that the old ways aren't working and are quickly moving from measurement-mania to goals of growth--growth and development of employees, that is. This means more and more companies will focus much more effort on developing support networks to help employees learn and grow.
You can do your part as a leader to help foster a safe, thoughtful learning environment by doing the following (all of these have worked like a charm for me, pick a few that speak most to you):
- Have patience and empathy for the learning process (and tolerance for mistakes).
- Have a "not yet" mindset versus a "you failed" mindset.
- Put emphasis on assets, not deficits.
- Enable ownership of ideas (don't do too much for them).
- Use data to go from "I think" to "I know." But don't let "I know" get in the way of "I think."
- Talk openly about the importance of learning. Role-model the priority you give to learning.
- Encourage "the sky's the limit" thinking, not limited thinking.
- Commend (not condemn) the person who brings conflicting information.
- Don't rewrite history, remember it. Then use realizations to move forward.
- Change "we've tried that before, sorry" to "let's try that again, smartly."
- Show a genuine interest in each individual's unique learning journey.
2. One-way employee surveys will turn into two-way, growth-focused dialogues.
Barnett predicts more companies will redefine their "people success" strategies, moving away from superficial, Silicon-Valley like perks, and towards much more meaningful endeavors. Specifically, teaching their leaders how to step up their coaching game and engage in transparent coaching conversations.
To be an A-student on this front, remember the rules of a great coaching conversation (which have also worked well for me):
- First, establish with your coachee the purpose and desired outcome of the session (otherwise it can easily wander off track).
- The meat of the coaching conversation should be about you (the leader) guiding versus prescribing. You do so by asking open-ended questions that force the coachee to craft their own solutions to problems (rather than you just giving them the answer).
- Close out the coaching conversation by asking for a timebound, measurable action plan and ensuring that the coachee is clear on expectations.
3. Employee engagement metrics will become as critical as profit, sales, or productivity metrics.
The Glint CEO predicts engagement will "arrive" in 2019, as validated by the importance that will be placed upon it by company leaders. When report after report shows 70 percent of employees are disengaged, it's not hard to believe that the day of reckoning for employee engagement has come.
So get strategic with your efforts on this front. Invest in big initiatives based on what really drives employee engagement--meaning. This includes crafting work that matters to employees (rich with a sense of purpose and legacy), enabling learning and growth, boosting employee's sense of competency and self-esteem, granting autonomy liberally, and fostering a caring, authentic environment. I wrote about this extensively in Make It Matter, as another resource for you.
4. Organizations and employees will embrace AI, rather than fear it.
Barnett says, "AI will play an increasingly large role in HR and business strategy. Despite widespread concerns of AI and automation replacing workers and taking jobs, in 2019, we'll see more evidence of how AI can actually support workers. Meaningful AI applications will help build a higher-quality work experience for individuals in business units, including marketing, PR, HR, and finance."