business transformation

New Leadership Standards for the Future of Work

Introducing new leadership standards and employee behaviors to support the future of work

The pandemic has led to unprecedented changes in the world of work. The skills required for many jobs are changing, and people are rethinking how, where, and why they work. These changes necessitate the introduction of new leadership standards and employee behaviors to support organizational sustainability in a post-covid future. 

In this blog post, we look at some of the challenges today’s leaders face, and how we’ve supported our clients’ needs with team-based learning solutions that help power the future of work. 

Enhancing hybrid working dynamics

One of the biggest demands on leaders is to manage the way remote working has transformed the ways teams innovate, communicate, collaborate, and build relationships. With workers split across virtual and physical spaces, not to mention time zones, leaders need to come up with new ways to build inclusive and connected teams.

One of our clients, a Fortune 150 pharmaceutical company, looked to Blueline for help navigating the new hybrid working environment and defining the future of work. The client needed to prepare leaders to address common challenges, lead hybrid teams effectively, and avoid proximity bias.

Based on insights uncovered through interviews with key stakeholders, we used Blueline’s ExperienceBUILDERTM digital design and delivery platform to produce two robust simulations made up of a total of twelve of the most likely dilemmas that leaders would face, including:

  • Leading teams in the hybrid workplace
  • Ensuring equality of opportunities and information
  • Preventing proximity bias
  • Giving feedback
  • Monitoring performance across physical locations 
  • Concerns from individuals about remote and hybrid work
  • Monitoring team health and members’ wellbeing

By exploring best practices and collaboratively coming up with solutions to these problems in a real-world context, leaders were able to learn to be productive and efficient leading in the new hybrid environment by ensuring fairness and equality in work, development, and career opportunities. The participant response to the immersive and collaborative learning experience was overwhelmingly positive, and the client continues to use the simulations we developed to help leaders prepare for and embrace this new way of working. 

Strengthening company culture 

Culture is critically important to company success; those with more effective and defined cultures realize multiple benefits, such as employee satisfaction, retention, and even revenue growth. But as the workforce became more geographically dispersed, many leaders became concerned about creating and maintaining a company culture across physical distances. Today’s leaders need to continue to foster and nurture company culture, but they need to do so while people are working in multiple places. 

We helped one of the world’s best-known consumer brands transform its culture by ensuring employees at all levels understood and could apply new expectations of leadership standards and employee behaviors. The company had communicated and reinforced the core behaviors and leadership standards the year before, so people knew about the new vision, mission, and behaviors. However, they often struggled to connect these concepts to their daily work. 

Blueline’s goal was to put the company’s vision, mission, values, and behaviors in the context of each individual’s job role, and to help leaders demonstrate the new leadership standards. 

To achieve these objectives, we created two workshops that leveraged a combination of our BlueprintTM learning visuals and our ExperienceBUILDER simulations. The first workshop (for all employees) focused on exploring the company’s vision, values, and behaviors by using a learning visual as a launch pad that invited employees to go on a metaphorical journey. The second workshop was designed specifically for leaders, who needed to be equipped to lead by the key principles and reinforce desired behaviors. The workshop consisted of two parts: a learning visual that invited leaders to explore the new leadership standards, followed by an ExperienceBUILDER simulation in which participants explored ways to apply what they had just learned to the specific challenges they would likely face in the transforming organization.

The program successfully helped to reinforce the company’s culture in a practical way. Leaders assess themselves on their proficiency with the new knowledge and skills before and after the training. Their scores jumped from 51% pre-training to 99% post-training with 91% of leaders stating that they would recommend the program to their peers. 

Key to the success of culture transformation initiatives is the ability to deliver them effectively in a hybrid work environment. Blueline’s team-based, immersive learning experiences are equipped to do just that. In fact, the need to deliver scenario simulations to a hybrid workforce was one inspiration for ExperienceBUILDER, which delivers highly immersive and engaging synchronous learning experiences to teams of learners, regardless of physical location. 

The need for softer skills 

Specialized interpersonal skills will be in high demand in the new hybrid workplace, where on-site interactions are becoming less frequent. The pandemic also highlighted the importance of employees’ mental wellbeing, and training for empathy has taken on a new level of meaning and priority. Empathy training has been proven to drive significant business results through a positive impact on employee motivation, innovation, and retention. Leaders in a post-pandemic working world must be able to empathize with their colleagues to be successful.

Our clients have seen significant improvements in empathy development using our immersive, discovery-based approach. Our ExperienceBUILDER simulations help guide individuals into meaningful conversations, resolve complex interpersonal issues, uncover biases and prejudice, and improve inclusion efforts, all of which are essential to ensuring empathy stays at the forefront in the future of work.

Seize the opportunity to define the future of work

By changing their mindsets, listening to their people, and using different tools and technologies, leaders can create a brighter and more positive future of work in the world of hybrid teams. Contact the Blueline Simulations team to learn more about how we can help. 

Addressing Talent Challenges Through a Comprehensive Approach

Transform to Retain: Addressing today’s talent challenges through a comprehensive approach to career planning, performance management, compensation, and skill development

Over the last year, the Great Resignation has left companies reeling from talent challenges, with 4.3 million employees leaving their jobs in January of 2022. The talent market has become wildly competitive, so how do organizations of today attract, engage, and retain valuable employees? 

Employers are all too familiar with the costs of replacing an employee. Along with the cost of recruiting and training new employees, high workforce turnover also harms workforce morale, and the customer experience. On the other hand, more and more employers are realizing that an engaged, satisfied workforce presents a significant competitive advantage. Engaged and committed employers are not only less likely to leave, but they also perform better, are more satisfied in their roles, and are more productive.

The organizations currently succeeding in this area have a key common trait: an integrated, transparent approach to career planning, performance management, compensation, and skill development.  

Why are employees leaving? 

A new Pew Research Center survey identified the top reasons why Americans quit their jobs last year: 

  1. Low pay (63%)
  2. No opportunities for advancement (63%)
  3. Feeling disrespected at work (57%)

It’s interesting to note that a lack of opportunities for advancement is weighted equally with low pay. Although remuneration is important, it’s only one aspect of the employee experience. Those who quit their jobs in 2021 and are now employed elsewhere have seen some improvement in their current work situation compared with their previous jobs: 

  • Earning more money (56%)
  • More opportunities for advancement (53%)
  • An easier time balancing work and family responsibilities (53%)
  • More flexibility with regards to work hours (50%)

What these numbers show us is that employees are not assets or resources—they are human beings. They want more than a high salary. They want a company culture that supports them, and a career with purpose and prospects. That’s why the ideal employee experience focuses on the whole individual: mental and physical health, along with aspirations for professional growth and development. 

A recent Gallup study found that more than half of workers in the U.S want to upgrade their skills, and 65% of workers refer to employer-provided upskilling when evaluating a potential new job. At all levels of the organization, training and employee engagement go hand in hand, and engagement is closely linked to retention. 

Business transformation initiatives simply can’t afford to fail 

In today’s competitive talent landscape, business transformation needs to take a people-centered approach to create sustainable change, which requires buy-in from employees at all levels. Some are even referring to this time in our history as the People Revolution. Business leaders need to adopt changes that avoid employee burnout, improve employee engagement, and minimize turnover. Failure to do so could be disastrous in organizations dealing with a toxic work culture.

It’s no small task for leaders to engage their teams and gain employee buy-in to the transformation effort. Further, organizations undergoing a transformation will frequently introduce new leader attributes or behaviors, some of which require significant adjustments to past behaviors. Leaders require a clear understanding of the things they’re accountable for, as well as the skills they need to develop in themselves and their teams. Training can offer strong support and help leaders feel confident in this process, and also help to cultivate a learning culture where employees at all levels have a growth-oriented mindset.

Create growth opportunities at all levels of the organization

As studies (and our own experience) suggest, most employees want to grow and evolve along their career paths, opening opportunities to both earn more and expand their skill sets. Blueline’s training and communication tools can facilitate your organization’s transformation to an integrated, transparent approach to career planning, performance management, compensation, and skill development. We can help your organization to become a preferred employer by investing in your people, making growth part of the culture, and enhancing employee engagement. 

Contact us to schedule a consultation to learn more about our learning solutions, and ways to overcome talent challanges.

Key success factors for workforce transformation 

Increasing labor market volatility, changing employee and customer expectations, rising wage costs and inflation, and other modern challenges sparked by the pandemic are driving organizations across the world to adapt with workforce transformation. Business leaders of today are focusing on and accelerating business value through new products and services, innovation, automation, talent acquisition, and upskilling. 

This workforce transformation is inevitable (and indeed necessary). So, how do organizations gain their people’s buy-in to change initiatives? And how do business leaders ensure that their teams are prepared for transformative success? 

Trends in transformation 

Vaco’s Trends in Transformation survey asked 160 North American business leaders about their top transformation goals for 2022. In order of importance, their priorities were: 

  1. Pursuing digital and technology advances
  2. Increasing shared services and outsourcing for cost-reduction
  3. Implementing automation and process improvements to financial reporting
  4. Ensuring a more engaged leadership to fuel success
  5. Investing in talent

No matter your organization’s workforce transformation aims, successful and sustainable transformation is dependent on your employees’ alignment and engagement with any change initiatives. 

In this article, we look at some key success factors to prepare employees for workforce transformation and new ways of working. 

Set your leaders and managers up for success

The Trends in Transformation survey identified engaged leadership as a critical factor in successful transformation in 2022, with almost half (46%) of respondents naming engaged leadership as the most important focus area. 

New models of work bring new challenges to leaders and managers, including how to build, manage, and engage employees in a distributed workforce, while preventing issues such as proximity bias. Managers need to be equipped with technology, training, tools, and resources to help them manage change effectively. The following three tips are particularly helpful in any transformation initiative:

1. Remain flexible in creating new models of work

The challenge of finding new ways of working can become a catalyst for meaningful business advancement. That’s why workplace transformation is never fully complete. When determining new working models, business leaders need to remain flexible and open to further opportunities for positive change. 

2. Consider all levels of the organization 

When identifying critical issues during workplace transformation, it’s vital to become attuned to the challenges faced at every level of the organization. In many companies, lower tiers of workers experience pain points most acutely, so it’s important to adopt a bottom-up approach when implementing new processes and systems.

3. Create a culture of choice 

The past two years have compelled employers to redefine the employee experience and build a workplace that values and considers employees’ needs. A company’s productivity depends on its employees, and today’s organizations are realizing the need to focus on employee flexibility, wellbeing, and human connection. An effective workspace transformation is ultimately about crafting a model that fits both the needs of the organization and the needs of its employees.

A poll conducted in 2022 by Momentive and Zoom found that most employees value choice in the workplace. For example, 69% of workers say it’s important for them to be able to choose whether they work on-site, remotely, or a hybrid model—this number jumps to 85% among workers who are currently doing all or some of their job from home. To create a culture of choice, organizations need to adopt agile working policies and provide flexibility and equal opportunities for their employees. 

Other features of an employee-centric corporate culture of choice include allowing employees to make suggestions freely, and encouraging them to express themselves through open communication.

Actively discover and address ongoing needs 

As the Great Resignation accelerates, it’s critical for leaders to proactively reach out to all employees more frequently, provide empathy and support, and address internal and external challenges as the organization navigates workforce transformation. 

The needs of employees as they adapt to the modern workplace will be unique to each business. Organizations need to discover and address the professional and personal needs of their employees during a time of transformation. This involves a structured process of listening to employees, gathering their feedback, then using these thoughts, ideas, and contributions to provide programs or offerings to help them meet these challenges. 

Blueline’s Voice of the Business process helps to get people’s buy-in to and alignment with change initiatives across the organization. By unlocking and harnessing insights from inside your business, you’ll be better equipped to secure the commitment of your employees to workplace transformation strategies. We begin every custom learning engagement by ensuring we’re tapping into the most current and pressing needs of your learners. Contact us to learn more about the ways we’re supporting business transformation needs.

Communicating Through Change

How a Blueline Blueprint Learning Visual and Quick Draw Video Can Help Tell the Story

Whether self-induced or triggered by external forces, organizational change can create confusion, uncertainty and fear at all levels – having a notable effect on morale, production and overall organizational climate.blueline-2.24.16v2

Although the end result is almost always positive, getting there can be a painful journey for everyone involved.

How you approach and communicate the change makes all the difference.

Whether change is embraced or polarizing, celebrated or chastised all comes down to one thing: leadership. It’s leadership’s job to align, communicate and get buy-in through a common message of both purpose and vision. “We’re doing this with you” rather than, “We’re doing this to you” is a message that’s both powerful and uniting.

Case in Point

A Fortune 100 healthcare company turned to Blueline Simulations after changes at all levels created fear and confusion throughout the organization. They enlisted our help in aligning stakeholders through a common purpose and vision for the future.

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Blueline led the way in helping to define their future and prioritize the actions that would bring it to life. More than that, we devised an approach to telling the story of their journey in a way that inspired employees and clients to embrace the vision and take the actions prioritized by leadership.

Capturing the Story Through a Blueline Blueprint

It started with one of our Master Artists drafting a Blueline Learning Visual that told the story of where the company had been. Plenty of white space was left to capture their vision for the future.

We then facilitated a one-day strategic planning session to guide our client’s efforts to define their vision for the future and prioritize the steps it would take to get there. Throughout the meeting, our Master Artist captured the process and the leadership team’s decisions. The final output was a table-size learning visual that the leadership team could use to engage others by telling the story of “where they had been, where they were going and how they planned to get there” in a fun, engaging way.

We repurposed the drawing and memorialized the leadership team’s efforts through a 4-minute narrated quick draw video telestration of the Master Artist creating the drawing so that it could be used to define and promote the organization’s brand. The final deliverable was a professionally narrated video of the Master Artist rendering the drawing for the audience. (Through the power of technology, the rendering takes place in about 1/60th of the time it actually takes to recreate the drawing.)

Communicating

The client kicked off its annual meeting with the quick draw video telestration, which set the foundation for a presentation by the leadership team. Large posters of the Blueline Learning Visual were on display throughout the meeting space so that participants could “re-experience” the journey with leadership.

The result is best summarized by the head of the organization, who opined: “The successful outcomes of this initiative are an important lesson in embracing the types of innovation we want to support throughout the organization. Through these efforts, we got 80% of the way to our destination in 20% of the time it usually takes us.”

Is your organization facing a challenging transformation? Contact the change management experts at Blueline today!

Does Your Pharma Sales Model Need a Booster Shot?

The pharmaceutical marketplace is evolving in fundamental ways – perhaps at a pace more rapid than any other B2B industry. In our work with some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, we’re seeing the transformation first hand.

What’s changing? Business models, decision-makers, reimbursement models, access to information, buyer profiles… the list is long. So long, in fact, that I’d venture to say it’s much simpler to list what’s NOT changing: your mission to help doctors deliver innovative solutions and better service, leading to improved patient outcomes.

You just need to go about it in a different way.

Not surprisingly, the sales model you’ve relied on in the past no longer delivers the results you need. In fact, you aren’t even sure you need sales reps anymore – but trust me, you do. The key is to reinvent the pharma sales rep role in a way that embraces obstacles as opportunities and changes as renewed chances for success.

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Case in Point

A major pharmaceutical company recently reached out to Blueline Simulations for help in revamping its sales model to better meet evolving market conditions and customer expectations.

Building on the company’s market research that clearly showed most customers still value pharmaceutical sales reps but don’t value the industry’s standard sales approach, we used our Voice of the Business (VoB) process to identify what was needed in a new sales model.

Using our VoB process, we culled our client’s research for insights and identified best practices in existing pockets of success. Then, drawing on our decades of sales training experience, we worked with our client to map out a new customer-focused sales model, define the core skills and competencies required to execute the new model and identify key triggers we could use to engage and inspire the sales reps.

Of course, designing a new sales model is only the beginning. The real key to results is driving adoption in the field – getting the sales reps to understand and embrace their new customer-centric roles. The company designated three states to test the new approach and partnered with Blueline to create the rollout strategy.

The training design utilized a custom Blueline Blueprint Learning Visual as the central element in a three-day meeting where sales reps were introduced to the new sales model. We used the Blueprint as a launch point for a broad range of sales manager-led practice and coaching activities – to provide practice and allow time to address questions and concerns.

The six-month test was a success. Based on learnings from the initial pilot, the sales model was further refined and then rolled out across the United States and eventually, with adjustments for local markets, applied across the world.

Pharmaceutical companies are in a position to literally redefine the sales rep role… to replace traditional sales models with models that put service and solutions at the forefront… to create models that ultimately lead to improved patient outcomes. That’s where Blueline comes in.

Contact us today! Together we can explore and implement proven solutions that will give your pharma sales model a shot in the arm and get you back on the fast track to results.