Change Management — Being able to drive and effectively manage change is a skill set that all leaders at all levels need to build. When we train leaders on driving effective change and helping to build resilience in their teams, we propel the organization forward. In our change management workshops, it is typically the first time most leaders have been taught to think this way. It’s a huge confidence builder for them to have these skills to serve their team better.

When it comes to designing the future of work, one size fits none. Discovering success isn’t about a hybrid model or offering remote work options. Individuals and organizations are looking for more freedom. The freedom to choose the work model that makes the most sense. The freedom to choose their own values. And the freedom to pursue what matters most. We reached out to successful leaders and thought leaders across all industries to glean their insights and predictions about how to create a future that works.

As a part of our interview series called “How Employers and Employees are Reworking Work Together,” we had the pleasure to interview Jaime Taets.

Jaime Taets is a purpose-driven leadership expert and the founder and CEO of Keystone Group International. She provides holistic growth advising to leaders and organizations that feel stuck and want to think differently about growth. Taets is also a Keynote speaker and author of You Are Here. Her second book, The Culture Climb, will be released in June 2023.

Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today.

Business success has been at the center of my life since childhood. I grew up in a family-run business and transitioned my career to working at international corporations. I have seen it all from the front lines of working in a large corporate environment. While I was doing great work, I didn’t feel like I was making an impact. I distinctly remember when I started to realize that politics were becoming more important than impact and collaboration. Year after year, we were having the same conversations, and I didn’t feel like I was making real change happen. I also realized the leaders I had once looked up to and were my definition of “success” were no longer people I aspired to be. I wanted to be a different type of leader and in order to become that person, I had to change my approach toward growth. My move to leadership advising was driven by my passion for making a difference and helping leaders see things differently. I felt moved to work with people that saw the importance of these changes and were consciously trying to grow even if it took a lot of work and discomfort. I left the corporate world to help companies and their leaders grow more effectively.

Let’s zoom out. What do you predict will be the same about work, the workforce and the workplace 10–15 years from now? What do you predict will be different?

I expect the pace of work and the pace of innovation to remain the same. If anything, things will speed up. Organizations and leaders will have to get better at being agile in their decision making but in order to do that, the structures of organizations will have to change.

I also predict that purpose-driven work and human connection will play a larger role in the workplace. We’re already seeing this but it will be more widespread. Work is more than just results. The focus will be on employees and employers building trust through outcomes. The days of the command and control leadership style are gone because employees want to know the “why” behind what they’re doing. Employees want to have conversations about their purpose and employers are going to have to start having these discussions a lot more. We’re already seeing this change in some of Keystone Group International’s clients. Recently, I was reviewing feedback from the employees of one client, and they just want to have more conversations to understand the purpose of their work and want a better explanation of why some things are being done differently now. The future of work will be more about human connection and there will be more flexibility in employee/employer relationships.

What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?

Invest in your leaders. The best way to ensure your organization can adapt and thrive in the future is to equip your leaders with the skill sets to drive effective change and create resiliency in the company. The pace of change is not going to slow down, and employees are going to expect more from their leaders in how they manage what occurs.

What do you predict will be the biggest gaps between what employers are willing to offer and what employees expect as we move forward? And what strategies would you offer about how to reconcile those gaps?

The biggest gap I’m seeing right now is that employers aren’t listening to what employees are saying. Employers need to pay closer attention to what employees aren’t saying as well. A good example of this is flexibility versus autonomy. Organizations would say that employees mainly want flexibility right now. However, employees are actually looking for more autonomy. They want to be able to do their work when they want to do it and have their employers trust it will get done. They aren’t looking for more flexibility in where they work or how often they’re in the office. They want their employers to trust that the work will get finished and allow them to log off sometimes so they can enjoy life outside of work. Employers need to be willing to invest the time and resources into having open and honest conversations with their employees about what they’re really looking for. They need to ensure that these conversations are intentional and actively carve out time and space to have them. As we look at the changing demographics of employees, we’re having to create a different employee/employer agreement built on trust and transparency in order to produce outcomes.

We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working From Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?

Remote work has fundamentally changed how we think about work. Many organizations like banks and manufacturing plants never imagined they could have staff that wasn’t physically together every day. It forced organizations and employees to be creative and achieve things that would have taken years in normal circumstances. The change happened very quickly and has stayed that way, and I think people are resistant to having to change again. Their lives have now been built around remote work, and it’s now an expectation, not a perk, for many employees. It will continue to push us to adapt the way we collaborate, use technology and engage with our organization. I also believe it’s going to create a new level of globalization for companies that may not have thought they could work in a global environment.

We’ve all read the headlines about how the pandemic reshaped the workforce. What societal changes do you foresee as necessary to support a future of work that works for everyone?

The pandemic was damaging for all of us. The trauma of COVID-19 changed our brains and what we value. Collectively, we need to break down old patterns of thinking and re-envision what will serve us best going forward. We need to shift from industrial-era thinking and move to an innovative and collaborative culture. I think generational changes will also force this. Gen Z has different expectations about what their work-life balance should look like and they have different definitions of success. I believe we all need to embrace their new way of thinking rather than joking about it. With my book, The Culture Climb, I aim to help leaders go deeper to shift their culture and grow a healthy and sustainable business.

What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?

The change that we need is coming. I could not be more optimistic about it. It’s going to be very uncomfortable to make these changes but it’s coming. The work culture we currently have in the States is unsustainable. Throughout my career as a leadership advisor and speaker, I’ve traveled the world and networked with brilliant global leaders. I’ve found that the in U.S. we have a backwards approach to work culture and how to get high performance from our people. We value effort over output. It’s time for us to figure out that the output is the value. We’re a society that rewards and expects unhealthy behaviors like workaholism. It must change, and I think the next generations will force it. We’re going to be forced into a better balance.

Our collective mental health and wellbeing are now considered collateral as we consider the future of work. What innovative strategies do you see employers offering to help improve and optimize their employee’s mental health and wellbeing?

Companies have started implementing hybrid schedules, four-day workweeks and longer vacations. One Keystone Group International client is implementing a forced two-week vacation to help employees fully disconnect and feel the impact of their break. More companies are implementing four-day workweeks. They’re recognizing that this isn’t just time off, it’s a basic human need that ends up helping employees do better when they’re in the office. I believe that while programs centered around mental health and physical wellbeing are vital, there can be business-focused initiatives that provide wellbeing as well. More clarity of vision and providing growth opportunities can help employees’ mental health just as much.

It seems like there’s a new headline every day. ‘The Great Resignation’. ‘The Great Reconfiguration’. And now the ‘Great Reevaluation’. What are the most important messages leaders need to hear from these headlines? How do company cultures need to evolve?

These buzzwords are new, but the problem is not. When we look at the data, the trend of high-performing talent leaving organizations and moving around has been happening since 2009. Outside of 2020, the data is pretty consistent. So while we think it’s a new problem, it’s just now reaching a decibel that is forcing companies to listen. We’ve seen record-low employee engagement for more than 10 years, and companies talked about it, but there was not a lot of deep action planning around what to do about it. The events of the past two to three years have recalibrated the idea of work, how we want to spend our time and what types of companies we want to work for and do business with. The employer-employee agreement is reshaping, and workplace cultures will be forced to evolve because employee expectations are increasing.

Let’s get more specific. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?”

  1. Intentional Communication — We have to get intentional about our communication. When people know what to expect, it creates a lower level of anxiety and a higher level of trust. We have a client who, through a large divestiture of the legacy part of their business, was very worried about employee engagement. We structured a very clear and transparent communication approach through the change, and their employee engagement actually went up.
  2. Inspiring Purpose — People want to work for a company that has a soul. They want to be proud of the work they do every day, the problems they solve and the impact they make. We had a client who had a purpose that ran throughout their organization, and even in the midst of some leadership and trust issues in the organization, they were able to lean on that purpose to continue to engage their team.
  3. Belonging — Humans want to feel like they belong somewhere and know their voices and perspectives really matter. We worked with a leader who felt his team was fractured and had him get everyone together for problem-solving sessions. The goal was to bring the team together, ask them different questions and allow them the space to work through the issues while ensuring that all voices were heard. The reaction from his team was strong — they felt heard and valued and had a greater sense of “I belong here.”
  4. Change Management — Being able to drive and effectively manage change is a skill set that all leaders at all levels need to build. When we train leaders on driving effective change and helping to build resilience in their teams, we propel the organization forward. In our change management workshops, it is typically the first time most leaders have been taught to think this way. It’s a huge confidence builder for them to have these skills to serve their team better.
  5. Conscious Leadership — I think we can all agree that the pace of change and the requirements of leaders in today’s world is evolving. Leaders can’t rely on what’s worked in the past. They have to develop new skills as the expectations of employees evolve. The way we describe it to our clients is that we are moving to a conscious leadership approach where leaders care for their people, help them solve problems, coach, mentor and challenge them. The days of the command and control approach to leadership are gone, and it’s time to lead more consciously.

I keep quotes on my desk and on scraps of paper to stay inspired. What’s your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? And how has this quote shaped your perspective?

“Be the leader you wish you had.” — Simon Sinek

As leaders, we’re usually focused on trying to grow and evolve. I think if we constantly remind ourselves to be the leader we wish we had, it will be a better guiding post to help shape how we change.

“The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.” — Mark Twain

This quote is a bit more personal but it’s one I think of every day. As organizations and leaders, we have to focus on helping employees find their “why.” Employees will deliver more to organizations if they feel they have a purpose. Companies will be more profitable, there will be a higher degree of performance and employees will be more attached to who we are as a business because they’ll feel a greater sense of belonging. I believe it is a business’s responsibility to help its team find its purpose and find what drives them.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He, she, or they might just see this if we tag them.

Simon Sinek. I love his approach to vulnerably talking about what leadership should be and how it needs to evolve. He’s focused on leadership evolution since long before our current environment, and I would love to hear more about how he looks at the future of work and leadership.

Our readers often like to continue the conversation with our featured interviewees. How can they best connect with you and stay current on what you’re discovering?

Instagram: @Jaime_Taets & @KeystoneGroupIntl

LinkedIn: Jaime Taets & @KeystoneGroupIntl

Facebook: Keystone Group Intl


Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and good health.