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Post-Pandemic Culture
What is the future of management after the pandemic?

Post-Pandemic Culture


Motivation models

Traditional models of motivation, with their reliance upon proximity of work and organisational structure, seem ill suited to a post-pandemic world, where people will likely spend more time working from home and connecting digitally for meetings.


Perhaps the most widely known model of motivation; Maslow, is going to be of limited value in a world where work, and more specifically the physical proximity of status within a group, is less central. Put simply we won’t rely on formal company recognition for self esteem. The move out of cities, which is clearly linked to a mix of redefining security and the desire for a form of self actualization that reaches beyond work, suggests that work is likely to be less central to defining individual identity. Whilst the Herzberg model emphasizes both hygiene factors, such as the working environment and supervisory relations, and motivators, such as recognition, achievement and advancement. Both models value really only remains in noting the ongoing need for security and purpose. Certainly this spells the end of Taylorism as a means of organisation for most non-industrial functions and whilst it may be the flowering of so-called generation Z values, it looks to be a pattern that crosses generations. Thus suggesting that McGregors model may be driven by experience more than age.



How will leaders hold organisations together? There will need to be a common sense of purpose that we might call a mission, or freedom to plan your own work schedule. Furthermore that purpose will have to be more meaningful for a much larger group of people. Nonetheless the question remains whether a sense of mission be an effective means of pulling people together without immediate emotional connections?


Thus on the one hand there is a sense of this being a transformational moment; a tipping point, which suggests that a less transactional culture of leadership is the way forward. Yet, on the other hand, the opportunities for the emotional bonds often needed to translate purpose into action will be missing, which might indicate something looser, but, perhaps, more transactional.


As noted in a previous blog post, there is an emerging tension between a transformational opportunity and the need to organise in a coordinated way, with no obvious solution for many organisations. How will managers establish norms of behaviour and ensure consistency? One suspects that ownership of project outcomes will be moved lower and held within teams to a far greater degree.


Thinking about the future

A more federal future suggests the need to develop team working skills and adjust models of leadership. Employees are claiming the authority and capability to question assumptions and looking for new ways of delivering outcomes and defining success. Leadership will quickly need to assume a more systemic nature that emphasizes individual and heroic models less and recognise collaborative action and purpose more. With the pandemic merely one symptom of environmental feedback loops impacting upon our models of organisation my forthcoming book Rethinking Leadership for a Green World (due out at the end of 2021) explores this topic more widely. The twenty contributors to the book provide models, examples and tools required to thrive in the future. One thing we do know is that the in the medium term our education systems will need to change so that they produce less compliant subjects, who instead of learning to reproduce for the leader the defined correct answer will need to learn to think far more for themselves. Why not be prepared for the future by registering for one of our executive programmes?

Andy Taylor, 10.06.2021