A Conversation with Futurist Jay Jamrog
As a podcast host, I recently had the pleasure of engaging in a thought-provoking conversation with Jay Jamrog, a long-time futurist and strategic workforce planning expert. Our discussion revolved around the future of work, the importance of leadership, and the role of culture in the workplace. Here are some key insights from our conversation.
The Role of a Futurist and the Impact of COVID-19 on Leadership
Jay Jamrog, my esteemed guest, is a futurist who specializes in analyzing trends, counter-trends, and their implications for companies. He shared his journey from his first business in strategic workforce planning to his current role at i4cp, a company dedicated to discovering and advancing next practices in human capital.
Our conversation touched on the impact of COVID-19 on leadership and the workforce. Jay noted that the pandemic has been a litmus test for leaders, with good leaders becoming even better and bad leaders being exposed. He emphasized that empathetic and compassionate managers have thrived in the new remote work environment, as they now have a glimpse into their employees’ lives.
Leadership, Culture, and Productivity in the Workplace
We delved into the importance of leadership and culture in the workplace, discussing the concept of command and control. While necessary in certain situations, such as heart surgery or policing, it’s not always applicable in a more normalized work environment. Instead, a human-centric approach, especially in trades like plumbing or electrical work, can be more effective.
We also discussed productivity in remote or hybrid work settings. We agreed that productivity has decreased, but not necessarily due to the lack of command and control. Effective leadership requires a balance of accountability and empathy. We shared our own experiences with hybrid work, focusing on getting the work done on time rather than micromanaging the process.
Setting KPIs and the Importance of Psychological Safety
Our conversation shifted to the topic of setting individual or team key performance indicators (KPIs). We acknowledged the challenges of setting team KPIs but emphasized the growing importance of group work in organizations. We also discussed the significance of psychological safety and trust in the workplace, emphasizing the need for a collaborative, empathetic, and driven culture.
The Importance of Culture Renovation
We highlighted the importance of culture renovation in businesses. Even small businesses with a good culture in the past can benefit from renovating and revitalizing that culture. We compared it to renovating a kitchen, where you can change the countertops and appliances but still maintain the basic value of a kitchen. We mentioned Satya Nadella’s book, “Hit Refresh,” which showcases the successful culture renovation at Microsoft under his leadership.
The Challenges of Culture Change and Compensation Structures
We discussed the challenges of culture change, mentioning how some companies revert to old ways due to an unchanged environment that doesn’t reward or recognize new behaviors. We also touched on the challenges that arise in larger companies due to complex compensation structures, which can create competition among division heads for resources, opportunities, and market share.
The Future of Work and Workforce
Looking ahead, we predicted that culture will become even more important, as companies with toxic cultures tend to lose employees and profits. We discussed the need for companies to focus on skills rather than degrees or competencies, and the importance of upskilling and reskilling employees to adapt to technological advancements.
Trust and Communication in the Workplace
Finally, we discussed the importance of trust and communication in the workplace. Trust can be a major issue when working remotely, as people in the office may not trust those working from home. This lack of trust can lead to a breakdown in communication and collaboration. We emphasized the need for constant communication about goals and performance, as human nature tends to be distrustful.
In conclusion, our conversation underscored the significance of trust, communication, and leadership in creating a positive work environment. Jay Jamrog’s insights as a futurist and strategic workforce planning expert provided a valuable perspective on the future of work and the role of culture in the workplace.
Jay Jamrog is a futurist and co-founder of i4cp. i4cp’s mission is to discover and advance next practices in human capital and conducts more research on the people issues impacting organizations than any other group worldwide.
Over the years, Jay has helped some of the most innovative organizations gain a deeper understanding of the world’s changing business environment and has helped them think strategically about today’s actions and tomorrow’s plans. Jay has confidential access to some of the most progressive organizations, and he’s currently an active advisor to more than a dozen leading corporations, including numerous government organizations.
Jay has been the Associate Editor for Human Resources Planning Journal, has had articles published in major business magazines and is frequently quoted in business publications and newspapers. In addition, he often collaborates with, and speaks before, other organizations and associations (e.g., HRPS, SHRM, The Mayflower Group, ATD, ABA, AGA, NEDA) on major research topics related to the future of people management.
Prior to co-founding i4cp in 2007, Jay was the co-founder of the Human Resource Institute (HRI) from 1982 to 2007. In addition, he has held numerous management positions, including vice president of purchasing for Webb Co., a large import/export wholesaler. He has an MBA and taught labor relations in the School of Management at the University of Massachusetts and is a Distinguished Lecturer at Duke University and The University of Tampa. Jay also spent five years living in the Far East, has a Black Belt and reads history for pleasure.
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