connection at work

#WorkTrends: How Hollywood Is Killing HR

What are you working on right now? Who’s helping you?

If you’re like a lot of people, you’re probably working on projects with a broad range of people — employees, freelancers, contractors and everyone in between. How long have you worked with them? Will you ever talk to them again after this project? And most importantly, what’s your connection to each other and to the work?

This week on #WorkTrends, we’re talking to leadership coach Lisa Prior. She’s passionate about helping leaders bring out the best in themselves and their people. In our conversation, we went deep on how the changing nature of work is changing our relationships and our sense of connection. If you’ve never heard of the “Hollywood model,” you’re going to want to listen in or keep reading. It’s a fascinating way to think about the changing status quo for careers.

You can listen to the full episode below, or keep reading for this week’s topic. Share your thoughts with us using the hashtag #WorkTrends.

What Is the Hollywood Model?

A generation ago, everyone worked in a traditional, hierarchical model. The workers were at the bottom and the leaders were at the top, in a pyramid. Then, that pyramid flattened a bit and we saw more of a matrix management structure. Now, experts are pointing to a new way of working: Just like teams come together to make a movie in Hollywood, then disband and move on to the next project, we’re all moving through a fluid work structure, based on projects and outcomes instead of strict, defined teams and hierarchies.

But, Prior says, HR hasn’t kept up with that new model. Instead, we’re still using the same tools and structures to manage talent that we did in the industrial era — and it’s not working.

What we’re missing is connection between people, she says. “Even though the Hollywood model has its appeal, I also think it can be a bit dysfunctional. There is no depth of connection.”

How to Create Connection

So, how can organizations create connections among their people, whether they’re employees, freelancers, contractors or a combination of many different kinds of workers? Prior says it’s all about homing in on where people’s passion and talent meet the organization’s goals. She thinks about that point like a Venn Diagram overlap — the nexus of passion, talent and goals.

Forget Programs and Initiatives. Improve the Core Work Experience

First, she says, HR has to shift the mindset about the employee experience. “We tend to think about the employee experience as something that we’re going to create all these programs for and initiatives,” she says, when what we need to think about is the work experience itself. The goal? “Give employees purpose and relationships and development that helps them take charge of their lives by taking charge of their careers.”

Consider Your Company’s “Software”

“Leaders have to pay attention to the ‘hardware’ — the strategy, the playbook, the goals and objectives. That gets measured. But what’s often shortchanged is what I call the ‘software’ side,” she says. Prior says leaders should think about their company culture as an operating system.

Consider elements of your organization that don’t show up on a balance sheet: What’s the vision? How do you want people to relate to each other? How do you want them to collaborate and communicate across groups? What is your specific expectation of the executive team and the team that reports to them? What kind of environment should they create for people to work in?

“Leaders have to own the culture, but someone has to be stewarding along the activities that can help create the culture and make it happen,” she says.

Focus on Career Development

The gig economy gives workers a lot of freedom and flexibility, but it also brings a loss of loyalty and security. “Career development is the new job security,” Prior says. “It has become essential in the organization’s fabric.” But instead of thinking about career development as a traditional top-down initiative, Prior says, we need to put more tools in workers’ hands.

In her book, “Take Charge of Your VIEW: Career Advice You Won’t Get from Your Boss,” Prior maps out four skills for career development in the new world of work:

  • Vision: Have a vision for your life and how your career fits into it.
  • Insight: Understand your own strengths and your impact on others. What do you need to change or improve?
  • Engagement: How will you create a nexus between your passion and talents and what the organization needs?
  • Will: If you don’t have the will to make your plan happen, then your ideas and plans will just sit in your journal. Will is how you move forward and take action.

If you can work on all four of those areas, Prior says, you have a roadmap for navigating modern work life.

Continue the conversation. Join us on Twitter (#WorkTrends) for our weekly chat on Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. Eastern, 10:30 a.m. Pacific or anywhere in the world you are joining from to discuss this topic and more.