Defining Success in a Redefined World
By Raf Uzar, Penteris
The concepts of corporate and individual responsibility and success are seemingly shifting under our feet. Companies and individuals are all facing the need to re-evaluate priorities. In this uncertain environment, the only thing we can be sure of is change. And tracking this change is key. Analysing and assessing our shifting attitudes is crucial for leaders to address the needs of employees.
To illustrate, the recent “Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2020” (May 2020) found that nearly three-quarters of respondents in the Gen Z and Millennial generation categories felt a stronger sense of social responsibility thanks to the pandemic. Despite being more financially prudent and literate, these generations, however, claimed their long-term financial future was a top cause of stress.
The survey also hinted at a possible change in attitude in various key concepts. Despite all that has being said about Gen Z and Millennials, job loyalty rises among them if companies addressed employee needs (from diversity and inclusion to sustainability and re-skilling).
Similarly, a recent (November 2020) report by the UK’s Chartered Institute of People and Development entitled “Responsible Business Through Crisis” found that in order for businesses to embrace responsibility, the introduction of new skills through new talent would be necessary for innovation to flourish. Corporate and individual success, therefore, is often predicated on the acquisition of new skills to cope with our shifting landscape.
In order to understand our particular professional environment in light of this shift, the Communication and Development Team at Penteris embarked on a survey of over 50 lawyers, accountants and consultants (many of them from the GGI family) from a variety of countries and backgrounds. We had three goals:
(i) to see how professionals defined success;
(ii) to investigate which skills were perceived to be important;
(iii) to understand how our companies can support employees.
Below is a small selection of the survey questions and answers.
Our survey opened with a general question about how professionals understood the term “success”. Respondents were given ten definitions. They could choose all and any that resonated with them. The outright ‘winner’ among lawyers, accountants and consultants was Maya Angelou’s “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it”, garnering 63% of the vote. Interestingly, Thomas Edison’s classic “Success is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration” only collected 16% of the vote. This reflects the importance of values like integrity and harmony among our respondents.
When shown a selection of skills (selected and suggested by Forbes, April 2020), our colleagues ranked “Adaptability & Flexibility” as most important, with “Critical Thinking” and “Creativity & Innovation” coming second and third, respectively. However, in spite of our techrich, post-pandemic environment, colleagues were least interested in skills like “Tech Savviness”, “Data Literacy”, and “Digital & Coding Skills”, which all came bottom of the pile. People skills are seen to be key in today’s environment.
Moving on, we asked our colleagues to choose one option out of seven (suggested by Harvard Business Review) that their company can do or have in order to improve. We found that having “A long-term purpose”, “Trusting people to self-organise”, and “A common purpose” made up almost 60% of all the answers. It seems that having a goal and trusting employees to realise that goal is what colleagues believe to be the key drivers of future progress in today’s environment.
Our final question related to the concept of well-being. When asked what gives people most satisfaction, respondents were completely uninterested in university degrees or professional certificates (less than 1%) or clocking a high number of hours (0%), which could seem surprising for professionals often working on an hourly rate. Instead, top of the pile was “Learning new things”, which ties in well with our previous answers and research on the need to learn new skills.
Even though we have only presented a selection of the questions and answers undertaken in our survey here, it is clear that in these uncertain times those working in the professional services need support and space from colleagues, partners, and leaders to pick up new skills that will equip our companies with the know-how to deal with what lies ahead and face the future with a potential promise of success.
If you are interested in further details about our research and additional background literature, please contact the author directly.
Published: GGI Insider, No. 110, November 2020 l Photo: Aleksander - stock.adobe.com