Joe Jotkowitz, Founder and Managing Partner, Evelyn Gonzalez, Business Manager & Consultant, Gerri Brehm, Senior Consultant, Heather MacArthur, Senior Consultant and Veronica Urrego, Executive Assistant
Though technology has been in the spotlight for most companies in the past decade, it’s still in second place for what makes or breaks the success of any organization. If last year taught us anything, it was that every organization heavily relies on its people to keep it competitive, effective and at the very least, in business. As we move into 2021, leaders across all industries are presented with the opportunity to truly integrate these two resources. Those that are able to do this successfully will find themselves with the greatest competitive edge on the market.
“For years, companies have had a somewhat siloed approach to how they developed their staff and how they evolved their technology,” shares Joe Jotkowitz, Managing Partner of The Executive Advisory, a consulting firm that supports leaders all the way from the C-Suite through to the frontline. Joe emphasized that last year’s push to virtual work has changed the landscape for technology and talent for the better.
The Executive Advisory has been supporting their clients to get the most out of the opportunities showing up from this past year’s chaos. Below are critical areas they’ve supported their clients through their organizational design and development services:
Embrace the strength of what virtual work can do for an organization.
This year we will see companies get back to focusing on what their businesses do best. It will no longer be how to simply survive in these trying times. But the ones who will get the most out of this unique time in business history, are the ones who double down on their people development strategy
As the year unfolds, most companies are looking toward how they can bring back their workforce. Many bemoan the inundation of the video call, for good reason. But Jotkowitz cautions that the virtual genie is fully out of the bottle. “We’re headed for a hybrid workplace in most instances. Instead of settling for the way remote work has been done in the past, embrace this new way to engage and be even more effective. Consider reinventing what this looks like for the organization,” recommends Jotkowitz.
Jotkowitz recently took his own advice to heart and ensured the firm invested in building an onsite studio. This enables The Executive Advisory to give their clients a best-in-class experience when conducting remote workshops, team building events and coaching engagements.
Instead of settling for the way remote work has been done in the past, embrace this new way to engage and be even more effective. Consider reinventing what this looks like for the organization
Gerri Brehm, one of The Executive Advisory’s Senior Consultants shared, “We realized that to provide our clients with a true learning environment, we had to make it dynamic. We had already built-in group discussions and activities to ensure our sessions were more than simply talking heads. But with the studio, we are able to bring the entertainment element that keeps someone sitting at home in their sweats fully engaged for an hour learning a new management skill or developing their leadership acumen.”
Plan for diversifying the tech talent pool.
The idea that tech experts only sit in the IT department is out of date and can handicap the workforce. Every department relies on technology to excel at what they do. By helping clients embed technology skill expansion into each employee’s development plan, they can ensure that technology becomes a capability that goes beyond the current software or programs being used. The old adage of, “I’m just not good with tech,” should be completely removed from the way staff views their role.
Embed technology into diversity, inclusion, belonging and equity (DIBE) efforts.
A 2020 report on diversity in tech showed the following concerning statistics:
• 48% of women in STEM jobs report discrimination in the recruitment and hiring process.
• Black and Hispanic women, who majored in computer science or engineering, are less likely to be hired into a tech role than their white counterparts.
• Just 3% of computing-related jobs are held by African-American women, 6% held by Asian women and 2% held by Hispanic women.
Brehm advises, “By making technology development an integrated part of how work is done, you help normalize and elevate how employees from all demographic backgrounds are viewed when it comes to being tech savvy.”
Heather MacArthur, another Senior Consultant with the firm shared, “It stops being the ‘IT guy’ stereotype and evolves to everyone being part of a culture that values technology as the way they get good work done.” Jotkowitz added, “We’ve seen it first-hand in our firm through the embedding of our studio. Every team member has developed expertise around it because we see technology as part of how we serve our clients.”
Develop each leader’s ability to develop strategic plans for their functions.
Another area that Jotkowitz recommends their clients shift traditional perspectives on includes strategic planning. “This is no longer simply an annual event done by the C-Suite. Every leader needs to be able to align between the bigger picture of what’s happening in the industry, their area of functional expertise and the goals of the company,” cautions Jotkowitz.
Instead of begging for headcount, equipment or increased budget, leaders must develop sound strategic plans and clearly communicate a compelling business argument for resource to get the work done and drive companies forward.
Develop leaders beyond the basic management skills. Jotkowitz emphasizes that ensuring leaders have a strong foundation in management skills such as goal setting, delegating, giving feedback and coaching should be a priority on every organization’s list. However, he advises not to stop there. Three other critical areas include financial intelligence, technological savvy and project management skill.
These areas were traditionally seen as part of a function. Finance handled the nitty gritty of budgets and spending. IT covered all areas of software, programming and hardware. And the certified project managers handled large-scale projects. However, these areas can no longer be fully delegated to a subject matter expert team. Instead, leaders need to be able to make sound business cases for their budgetary decisions. They need to be at the cutting edge of what tech means for their functions. And finally, they need to realize that most departments have moved away from assembly line workstreams and require dynamic project work to get the job done.
Create a cross-functional work environment. As Jotkowitz and the team of consultants who make up The Executive Advisory work with clients to identify how to evolve their organizations, he sees a rising need for teams to develop an internal consultative mindset. Instead of focusing solely on their area of expertise, teams benefit from a certain amount of cross-pollination. The broader understanding an individual has of the organization as a whole, the more effective and resourceful their decision-making process.
A team can support this by reaching out to other departments, learning about other groups’ priorities and challenges and embedding lessons learned into how work gets done across the organization. “This creates a connective tissue that enables smoother communication, greater frequency of collaboration and a synergy of resources,” shares MacArthur.
“This year we will see companies get back to focusing on what their businesses do best. It will no longer be how to simply survive in these trying times. But the ones who will get the most out of this unique time in business history, are the ones who double down on their people development strategy,” highlights Jotkowitz.
He believes that it is the team of seasoned and passionate professional development consultants at The Executive Advisory with over a hundred years of combined experience that has enabled him to expand and build the company’s reputation as a practical, client-focused, trend-setting firm making significant impact in the people and organizational development across their global client base. In addition, it is also the behind-the-scenes team that is connected, engaged and always willing to step up in the way they work. “Everyone on our team matters greatly. They know that. Because of that, we are able to do creative, tailored work for clients based on their needs and culture. The people side of our business is built from the inside out, and our clients reap the benefits of that,” shares Jotkowitz.