The world has changed. Change is everywhere, be it due to advances in technology, evolving socio-economic scenarios, shifts in world trade demographics, birth of new sectors or slowdowns in many economies. The organisations that did not even exist 10 years back are now giant corporations and, on the other hand, long-lasting brands and organisations have taken a beating. Physical boundaries are disappearing fast with the advent of technology. Processes are changing. And getting standardised.
It was against this backdrop that the ground beneath our feet shifted almost overnight. The novel coronavirus pandemic arrived, pressing the pause button on life around the globe, redefining life as we know it. We are unsure of what business-as-usual will look like after this is over. But an unprecedented global crisis aside, many of the changes we see now had been creeping up on us already. COVID-19 may simply have accelerated their adoption.
In my view, the following changes have dominated the last few years and are here to stay:
- Virtual working on the rise
- Technology leading our way
- The workforce of tomorrow will be looking for flexibility, purpose and authenticity versus selling time to earn a mere salary.
Transition from campus to corporate is always challenging and with the above-mentioned changes, you need to adapt to a few things which the “freshers” of the past might have handled differently.
In this series of articles, we will talk about how we can make ourselves ready and adapt to the changing environment to make a mark from Day 1 of our corporate life.
Before we delve into individual topics, let us understand how the corporate world has changed over the last many years… here are my top 10 changes:
- The definition of office has changed; it’s no longer a place where you need to report every morning and stay till evening (sometimes stay back late till your boss leaves for home). The future workplace will be a lot more flexible; many organisations are looking at a “hybrid model” wherein you may be able to work a few days a week from almost anywhere (preferably home). All you need is a quiet place to sit or stand as you may prefer, a computer and a good internet connection.
- Timing for work may not always be as rigid as in the past; you will rather be asked to “deliver your task” than to be in office for eight hours. This means there may not be someone physically present sitting next to you to oversee or monitor what you are delivering on an hourly basis. This also means you are partly the master of your own time and you may decide how to utilise those available hours that suit you and your organisation the most.
- There are two kinds of KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) – input KPI and output KPI. To put it simply, input KPI is related to the effort you put in and output KPI is the result of your effort. Most organisations are now focussing on your delivery and hence on output KPI; soon input KPI will be a thing of the past.
- Most jobs have a very clear job description (JD) which is explained to us as we start a new role. Over time I can see the expectations from an individual growing and the JD being just an indicator of your role. So, if you get an average rating during your appraisal even after you’ve delivered everything that was put down in your JD, do not be surprised.
- In the past most of us had a one-department/ one-boss relationship, the organisations were hierarchical and a clear Manager-Employee relation was defined. The world is now moving towards Matrix Working – you will need to work with many departments and to collaborate with many others who will directly or indirectly influence your career. And eventually you may end up reporting to more than one manager.
- Informal Leadership is here to stay; this means you may sometimes need to lead a team when you are not the hierarchical leader. So, the skills you need for your corporate career will be a bit different from the successful leaders of the past; you must be ready to lead even without a formal designation.
- Access to Information was always a key to success in the past; the person who knew a lot or had access to information was king. However, in today’s world, information is easily available in abundance, thus having information is no more a key to success. It’s all about how you can convert that information into meaningful stories – that will mark the difference and make you stand out. Yes, storytelling will be a thing of the future.
- Corporates are moving from transactional relationships to purpose-driven relationships. For the new generation workforce, it is not about only work anymore. People are looking for a holistic life; to find purpose and balance. It is not about selling their time for a salary, at the cost of missing out on the rest of life. People are mostly united in demanding that the world prioritise balance of life with work, profit with purpose. Most are in search of deeper meaning in their work.
- Technology will dominate our life. You can be from any walk of life, your relation with technology is here to stay. So it is better to be an early adopter than a lagger. With evolving technology and changing work environment, if one thing is here to stay it is – Continuous Learning. You need to continuously unlearn, learn and relearn. This makes you a perpetual student in this corporate world. So, if you think your days of education or learning are over… I am afraid, it’s just another beginning.
- While networking always helps, the need for it is evolving even further. It is not only about how much you know, it is also about who you know. With distant working and matrix organisation, networking will be a key to success. But you should know how and who to network with as it can consume more time and energy than you may think.
I have just pointed out 10 of the changes that are going to affect you as you transition into the corporate world. There are more changes. Keeping these in mind, in this series of articles, we will talk about how we can navigate better as we start our career… from campus to corporate.
In the next column, we will talk about how you can make yourself ready to face the corporate world…. even before you start your job. This means how you can prepare yourself during the time when you have the job offer and also a few weeks/ months to go for joining day.
See you soon!
Partha Sarathi Basu has worked in leadership positions at Coca-Cola, Whirlpool, IFB group, Tata group, Spicejet and AkzoNobel. He is currently associated with a leading consulting firm apart from being a leadership coach. He is the author of five books based on his corporate and life experiences. A die-hard Calcuttan, he now lives in Amsterdam.