Lessons in Business: 2017 Year-end Reflections

Businesses are getting ready to transition to a new year and planning is underway. This transitional time invites reflection on what was successful over the past year, and what changes need to be made to ensure success well into the next.

We recently released our 2018 predictions, and part of the selection process for these predictions involved reflecting on what we expected to see the past year and comparing these expectations to what transpired. Our 2017 predictions were:

  • Diversity and inclusion initiatives and programs will be expanded.
  • Change leadership will be incorporated into all levels of the company.
  • The role of conversations will gain emphasis in performance management.
  • New technologies will continue to be sought out, adapted and taken advantage of within companies.
  • Participant-driven learning will play a larger role.

Overall, our predictions were spot-on.

Here's a look at areas of business where we've seen a lot of movement this past year and how we anticipate these areas will play a role in 2018…

Change and Ambiguity

We predicted that change management would be a primary leadership focus in 2017. More frequently than ever, we are seeing that change management teams are being dissolved and decentralized with the core skills needed throughout an organization. Dealing with change and ambiguity is front and center, and will continue to be, across all organizations. Demonstrating skill in navigating change is becoming increasingly important as a central function of leadership.

New Technology

As we anticipated, participant-led learning is a huge focus for organizations right now. Our clients are actively seeking out new technologies that appeal to different kinds of learners. They want more options to expand the depth, scope, and reach of training. We have seen an increased focused throughout 2017 in blended learning that has a participant-driven focus. Individuals are taking a growing interest in how and what they are learning, and we believe the desire for participant-led learning will continue to grow in the coming years.

Workplace Division

We predicted that stemming from the election, differences of beliefs would create workplace divisions. We hoped that we would see a greater movement toward expanding inclusion and diversity programs to address this divide. Unfortunately, what we are seeing is even more mini-affinity groups forming around social beliefs and identity politics. We've heard it called "micro-clanning." This is troublesome considering our prediction that individuals would feel marginalized, unsupported, or even fearful at work has indeed panned out. For the sake of creating inclusive cultures, there is a lot of work that needs to be done for people to become more open to listening and responding with curiosity to better understand others' beliefs.

Performance Conversations

We have also witnessed, as expected, companies shifting away from traditional performance plans to placing greater emphasis on ongoing coaching and feedback conversations. We're also seeing an uptick in the need for training in this area, and as a result, our feedback model is one of our fastest growing offerings. The need for feedback training will continue to grow, as more companies become more aware of the need for ongoing conversations that enhance relationships and performance.

More Insights

This past year, companies have been tasked with the challenge of doing more with less due to increasingly fast-paced work environments. This has been consistent theme we have observed, and in order to successfully take on this challenge, performance is critical. Organizations need to focus on recruiting and hiring talented candidates with backgrounds suited for the work at hand, and leaders need to focus on individual performance within their teams by engaging in ongoing feedback conversations. We anticipate "doing more with less" will continue to be a theme in 2018, and it will be necessary for leaders to have the conversation skills necessary to navigate this challenge.

Here at Fierce, we reflect on how our predictions relate to our own in-house experiences so that we can continue to evolve our programs, culture, and relationships. We have placed a heightened emphasis on openness and evolving our culture to maintain cohesion in the face of outside social and political discord. We strive for inclusion and we're dedicated to setting an example of positive workplace culture for other organizations. When challenges arise, we walk the talk and approach them head-on with fierce conversations.

Moving Forward

We're remaining optimistic as we move into the new year and believe that conversation and connectivity hold the key to reversing some of the more troubling trends. If leaders approach issues as opportunities for improvement, and they are equipped with the skills they need to have effective conversations in the workplace, 2018 can be a successful year in business.

Check out our recent blog post to read our 2018 predictions and learn how leaders can best prepare. 

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