Vladan Živanović

Successful delegation & management in conditions of growing flexibility at work

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If I had the opportunity to respond to this topic in some, let's call them "peacetime" conditions, I believe that most of my remarks would be about relatively slow adaptation to flexibility as a primary demand of new, young generations, that bring even greater demands for a fluid, constantly open work models that would easily and quickly adapt to the new demands of these new generations. I believe the primary input would be to improve and emphasize communication between senior management and employees, as well as to identify and accept the necessity of such communication and a new reality of HR role and mid-management in the process. My view is that their role would become more mediatory, not to say that of an assembler- to simply translate attitudes and expectations to the other party, in the best possible way. There are more and more companies that think long-term about talent retaining as the essence of their success longevity, and which accordingly make organizational changes, introducing new roles that would be closer to the models we are talking about. Not only because the general requirement of new employees is flexibility in every segment, but also because it becomes the backbone of success and growth, which in combination with planned and desired long-term results leads to a whole function within modern companies - employee satisfaction. And now, as it is a completely new and unexplored area, which touches on working conditions, perks and earnings, and does not fit into traditional models, then we are witnessing a multitude of new functions with the least common denominator being employee satisfaction.

Faced with the reality of the pandemic, which acted as a catalyst for this whole process, these needs have exposed themselves and solving these problems has accelerated, at least in terms of workplace flexibility. In that sense, even those who have traditionally been accustomed to fixed locations, fixed metrics, clear and unambiguous requirements that remote work is impossible – have faced a difficult decision – either they will believe in technology, employees, processes that are on the fly transformed from on-premise to remote - or it will simply disappear. So, as bizarre as it may sound - the pandemic has led to a tremendous acceleration in business models and organizations conversion from rigid and fixed to more flexible and remote. And the epilogue was, like of any such radical experiment, evolutionary, not revolutionary.

Evolutionary business transformation has been experienced and survived, empirically proven and we can say that many things are in question - so it is not even clear where the boundary of flexibility and control is, as now most of the traditional efficiency metrics is useless. In that sense, the burden of control, stimulated by the pandemic, ended up on the shoulders of an individual working from home. And although the change was quick and shocking and caused by an external factor, on the other hand it led to a simple conclusion - the problem was neither location, nor technology, nor metrics - the source of questions and doubts was mistrust. Simply mistrust that self-management - in the positive sense of the word - is impossible without micromanagement and without direct and immediate control. Of course - new metrics will be introduced, and they are already being introduced. They will monitor efficiency and productivity remotely, they will track activity in an attempt to replicate the past, but the amount of flexibility gained and shown and proven will be impossible to put back in the box and recapture. On the other hand, I believe it is still uncertain what the expected efficiency will be and what it will look like, having in mind that work at home brings many organizational problems, in terms of organizing private and personal vs. official and business, especially in measuring working hours and employee availability which has now become unexpectedly great. In the epilogue, it can simply happen that one freedom - such as working from home, has negatively affected another freedom - and that is work-life balance. I think that from that point of view, another factor gained in importance, and that is education. Namely, shifting the focus from a fixed and solid organization, to a home and more relaxed organization, generated and articulated a completely clear individual’s request - I want the possibility of additional learning, from these same flexible conditions. And another precedent - yes, that learning will not necessarily be part of my current business engagement, but part of my personal aspirations. And it is as if we have taken a game called Business to the next level and introduced it to a new dimension - because new stimuli give birth to new results, so apart from flexibility that is now physically handed over as a baton to employees, the equation got the following unknown value - how to fully support the creativity of diligent individuals who now work remotely in a flexible model through new learning and keep the newly created values within the company. Some have already succeeded; it is just a matter of what we will get when it spreads to all continents, and in several companies. And there lies a new type of responsibility and delegation, a new degree of freedom and emotion, a new value system in the new reality of the answer that money is absolutely not everything in life. On the contrary.

Vladan Živanović, CEO Euronet WorldWide

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