EXPO keynote speaker Seth Mattison, an expert on workforce trends and generational dynamics, delivered a provocative presentation on how businesses today need to prepare for the next three to five years of workforce success. “The most pressing trend facing all of you is the battle between hierarchies and networks,” says Mattison. “We’re in the age of networks of information, but the past is based on hierarchical structures.”
He says the traditional top-down organizational structure of most businesses limit a company’s ability to grow and to attract both employees and new customers. “We’ve been living by the traditional unwritten rules of success– start at the bottom, work hard, respect the chain of command and don’t share information freely. But today, sharing information is how you get more power,” says Mattison. “We’re living in a gift economy. The primary challenge is bringing a network mentality into hierarchical companies.”
Mattison, founder of FutureSight Labs, says the new world of networking has created two transformational shifts in the business world. “The first is unprecedented access to information. There’s so much information for us to sift through now and we’re all aware that much of it is misinformation and alternative facts,” says Mattison. “Clients and employees are far less trusting in both leaders and information. This means you need to make transparency and openness a priority. Closed door meetings lead to whispers and unease. People would rather hear bad news than no news.”
The second transformational shift is the exponential reach of information. “Anyone can put forth an idea that resonates,” says Mattison. “This goes against the ‘pay your dues’ mentality. Nobody needs permission to be influential. This is disruption. Young people may have the best ideas and it’s not about perfection, it’s about innovation.” He says the traditional mindset of perfection limits business and workforce growth. “Take a good look at how you treat mistakes in your business. Do you punish people? Do you allow mistakes? How do you treat people who ask a lot of questions? Are they considered irritating? You can’t innovate without asking questions,” Mattison says.
He recommends that business leaders question their “sacred cows” and determine where an organization’s traditional structures, communication processes and culture are holding back growth and preventing it from attracting and retaining new workers and customers. “The experience leaders create for their talent, mirrors the experience the Brand creates for its customers,” says Mattison. “Customer experience is a reflection of culture and culture is a reflection of leadership.”