Outcomes-based leadership in the workplace is the way of the “new normal”

Kgomotso Ramoenyane provides leadership tips to navigate the challenges of the post-pandemic workplace.

The world of work – how employees interact with each other, how they are managed, and the role that work plays in their lives – has undergone a paradigm shift, brought on by the outbreak of the pandemic. Some companies demonstrated significant agility in making the transition to remote working, even at scale.

Others struggled to mitigate the effects of Covid-19 on the wellbeing and psyche of their workforce. Having come through consecutive waves of infections, it is clear that “business as usual” will look very different to what it did pre-Covid-19.

Leadership teams are faced with the mammoth task of deciding whether to continue with a hybrid working model, a full-time return to office or full remote working. Ultimately, whichever decision is made, there needs to be a shift in how leaders lead their teams.

This is the opinion of Kgomotso Ramoenyane, executive general manager for HR at Business Partners Limited. As she argues: “A shift in mindset from task-focused authoritarian leadership to an outcomes-based management style is the way forward in the new world of work.

“What this means in the most practical sense is that leaders need to trust and allow individual contributors and employees to navigate their own way towards a set of defined end goals, as opposed to resorting to micro-management.”

Kgomotso provides the following tips for implementing an outcomes-based approach to leadership style in workplaces:

Clearly and continuously communicate expectations
Focusing on the outcomes rather than the process can be a challenge for leaders who have grown accustomed to playing a supervisory role. But stepping away and allowing employees to work their way towards the set-out goals is key.

From the onset, leaders need to communicate their expectations by providing tangible benchmarks – a series of checkboxes with timelines that need to be ticked as the process unfolds. Employees also become more purpose-driven when they understand what they are expected to deliver within the framework of the company’s greater vision.

Celebrate wins
Acknowledging employees who meet their goals and recognising those who consistently go the extra mile will go a long way in shaping a culture that builds people up and encourages them to be better and do better.

Victories, no matter how small or big, need to be celebrated. This doesn’t need to reflect in grand gestures – leaders may be surprised at how impactful a simple “thank you” or token of appreciation can be in terms of lifting morale and encouraging co-operation. Many small wins add up to big wins in the end.

Lead by being a coach
The pandemic has called on employees to go above and beyond the call of duty to fulfil their roles. The longer working hours and added responsibilities have resulted in increased mental health cases such as depression, stress and anxiety.

The long-term effects of physical health challenges and mental health related problems can be taxing. As such, leaders need to become acutely aware of their roles as coaches who play a key part in helping employees to understand and appreciate their strengths and learn from their weaknesses.

Coaching leaders assist their employees to overcome obstacles. What is needed in the “new normal” is a more human approach to leadership – one that prioritises the wellbeing of employees as well as their output.

Hire people you can trust
Outcomes-based leadership fails if leaders cannot trust the employees they hire to do the jobs they are hired to do.

As the world of work becomes increasingly remote, this trust factor has become even more crucial.

Recruiters and human resource managers need to add a level of screening that allows leaders to build a rapport with potential candidates and ascertain whether candidates who have the hard technical skills also have soft skills like good communication, honesty, a strong work ethic and a sense of loyalty.

Kgomotso believes that clearly communicating your expectations, celebrating your wins and hiring trustworthy people will help a great deal with the newfound challenges of the post-pandemic workplace.