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I’m perplexed because while so many people are looking for a new job and so many companies are hiring, I still hear about how hard it is to find a job or to find employees.

Sounds like what everyone wants is entirely different. Gone are the days of employees wanting only a paycheque. Today, workers are looking for a lot more, including a meaningful relationship with their leader to help shape the impact they will make.

According to the Deloitte 2023 Global Human Capital Trends report, the workforce is shifting from boundary (black and white) to boundaryless (fluidity). And if leaders don’t accept this, they will have a hard time attracting good talent.

Workers don’t want to define the relationships (or have it defined for them), they want to co-create it with the company they work at. This exceeds the compensation package. Recently, when a friend told me she accepted a new job, the first thing she said about it was that the position can be as remote as she wants it to be. This aspect was the most important part for her. It is the ability to choose what is best for her, and the trust the company has in her decision. This is one small, but important co-creating example.

What seems to stand in the way of this concept are leaders themselves. Leading means just that – leading people, and they follow. So many times I have heard from leaders that they like grooming others to be stronger and better – help develop and advance their careers. I would challenge that people see themselves as being able to do this on their own. What they need are people to align with, rather than be seen as someone who requires guidance to move ahead.

Work is not just being redefined, but the relationship is. And like most relationships, they come to an end when the parties want different things, or one side doesn’t want to move forward.

LinkedIn and other sites that promote job opportunities show if the job is onsite, remote or hybrid. For many people, if the role is onsite when they know it doesn’t need to be, they scroll by it, no matter what kind of company it is, or what fantastic, inclusive culture they claim to have or what competitive compensation package they purport to offer. The company is starting out with creating the boundary. It’s an immediate turn off for many.

So, what is the boundaryless worker looking for in a leader and company?

  • The ability to create a relationship with the leader and company, not be told, from day one, what to do. Leaders should be discussing, not demanding, what impact the employee wants to have. They shouldn’t tie it to performance targets, but tap into the employee’s imagination, innovation and desire to make an impact. Paint this picture with the employee.
  • Encourage employees to try new things and fail quickly from the first try. The “try” has the most impact, rather than a negative outcome. Although it is easy to say learn from failure, many employees are not told to fail the first time, so they do not try. Strategies for success will only come from what a team has already tried, which will do nothing for moving forward. Try, fail fast, rinse and repeat. The most valuable nuggets will spill out, but only if there is a comfort in trying and failing.
  • Focus more on what can be done, not where. Harnessing the power of technology makes the where less important. When looking for people to join a team, think only about what they can do and how the environment can encourage that. Remove the where from job postings and let the employee and leader co-create that, if needed.

“Organizations should abandon former illusions of complete control and recognize the role they play in living, evolving ecosystems, as workers assume greater influence and accountability for organizational and societal outcomes, leading hand in hand with the organization,” says the Deloitte 2023 Global Human Capital Trends report.

Boundaries aren’t shifting, being redefined or pivoting. They are disappearing and not coming back. Autonomy and mutual values are left standing, only to create a more agile and innovative workforce.

Eileen Dooley is a talent and leadership development specialist, and a leadership coach, based in Calgary Alberta

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