What happens “now now” ?

In my previous article I spoke about thinking about the future using the South African phrase “just now”. 

Another phrase commonly used in South Africa is “now now”.  This is not used as comforting phrase “now, now, that will be alright”.  It is used like “just now” but referring to some more immediate time in the future. 

Australian terminology

Since living in Australia over the last 21 years, I have also become accustomed to using the Australian phrases “no worries”  and “she’ll be right, mate”

When confronted with the pandemic of 2020 there were myriads of responses from various people and I thought I would classify them into the words of my upbringing and my adopted country.

No Worries

The first group are those who said “no worries mate”  and decided that this coronavirus thing was a bit of nonsense and changed nothing in their daily habits. (before I get flamed – this is not the real use of the phrase, but it fitted the theme of the article)

She’ll be right

The second group are those who said “She’ll be right, mate”  and acknowledged that there is problem but essentially relied on everyone else to do the right thing and bring the pandemic under control.

Just now

The third group, realising somewhat more urgency, said “we will do something just now”.  This group took a more cautious approach, understanding that they need to do something but in on undefined time line.

Now now

The fourth  group, were the “we will do it now now” team. This group acknowledged even more pressing need to do something and brought the time line into the near future. Now, now refers to something to be done imminently.

“Just do it”

The fifth and last group were those who adopted the Nike catch phrase of “Just do it”  and actually got down to doing something about doing their part to contain and hopefully control the virus.

How does this relate to our business and our leadership ?

I was talking to the executive of a large consulting firm with 11,000 staff members who said that the transition to working from home for most staff was easy because they had invested in lots of infrastructure and technology. “It was a fairly seamless transition.” But nowhere in that discussion did he discuss the implication for the team. Nowhere in that discussion was there anything said about how the team behaviour was modified. No mention was made of the day to day banter and the ability to interact with people face to face. Their executive team made the “Nike” decision, but almost adopted the “she’ll be right” approach to the team.

What is a “post covid-19 world” ?

Many of us have been guilty of using the term “post coronavirus world”.  That is why I refer to the future as just now or even now, now. We don’t really know how long that is and we need to be more adaptable than any time before in history. All the future predictions are that the working from home regime will be the new normal. The challenge then as leaders is how do we get to know and understand the teams a whole lot better. When you look at behaviour and modified behaviours of the last few months that people have been in the main working from home. How does that change the team dynamic within the organization, how has that changed the nature of the way people work together now and moving forward. A very common “Friday phase” is “I’m all zoomed out. “ 

I believe the pendulum has swung from environments of people working separately in the same corporate office, where interactions were around the coffee machine or water cooler to an overzealous (or over zoomed) world where every interaction becomes screen to screen.

“The future of work is defined by the future of culture”

Rael Bricker

In the future, the implications are widespread from corporate office physically downsizing but not downsizing team members and encouraging people to work remotely and work from home. But more importantly, it is going to impact on the corporate culture and the culture is a critical component of the why and the purpose of the organization.

But the culture is also critically important in the team development. In Perth (Australia) we have been pretty lucky with the lockdown and enforced work from home lasting not more  than two months. During that time, our team in financial services had our WhatsApp group being fairly active with banter and questions and just genuinely asking the question on most days – R U ok ?.  The expected response from the team was to say “Hi, I’m alive I’m here. I’m okay. I’m working I’m good”.  The reminder was always that if a team member was not in a good space they should talk privately with me or someone they could trust.  

The time is NOW

So I believe that the challenge in the “now now” time frame is the challenge of leadership of teams.  The business owners and managers of the future (and the now now time ) will be spending even large amounts of time and other resources of building the teams and ensuring that the future of work is the future of culture.