Transcend’s 2021 Year in Review

Congratulations to the executives who successfully navigated two of the most dynamic business years in recent history.

Reimagining sourcing, delivery of service, employee engagement, cash flow, and reentry into the new normal is just scratching the surface of what’s occupied recent executive focus. Yet, 2022 is upon us at breakneck speed, and it promises to be a year of “stake in the ground moments” where leaders manage which Covid spurred transformations remain as core components of their business and what will transition back to pre-Covid norms.

Executives will experience partial control in 2022 as consumer, employee, and government behavior necessitates the continuation of adaptability versus long-term strategic adoption in certain areas. However, our team of experts has identified several areas where executives must proactively lead and innovate to gain the maximum value and employee engagement in the year ahead.

Customer Journey Trends for 2022

by Meghan McClimon

For nearly two years, organizations have had to adapt to meet the ever-changing customer needs throughout the global pandemic, social justice movements, and now, supply chain disruptions. In 2022, it will be crucial for organizations to keep a pulse on how customer behavior shifts to fully understand the customer experience (CX). The fundamentals of CX are no longer a competitive differentiator – organizations must craft an intentional CX to create an exceptional journey for the customer. The following trends will be increasingly important for organizations to consider heading into 2022:

Customers want a personalized journey, but not an invasive one.
Customers want to receive meaningful, personalized moments from your organization. They want touchpoints and interactions to be unique and tailored to their needs. Using geo-tracking technology and past consumer data, for example, can help deliver personalized experiences throughout the customer journey. However, a fine line exists between providing an individualized experience and encroaching on a customer’s data privacy. It will be increasingly important for your organization to design meaningful experiences for customers that deliver value while also utilizing best-in-class customer data practices that create trust and transparency for the customer.

Customers are conscious consumers with a desire for sustainability.
Customers are becoming increasingly aware of the wider environmental impact of their purchases, and when available, choosing the responsible alternative. There is a growing demand for more eco-friendly and sustainable products but also a demand for transparency into an organization’s sustainability efforts and practices. Your organization must consider how to integrate sustainability across the customer journey to retain and grow your customer base. Internally, this means creating a focused approach through integrating sustainability practices and measures into the business strategy, operating model, and organizational culture.

Customers care how you treat your employees.
Your CX efforts and goals will falter without maintaining a focus on your employee experience. Organizations looking to improve the overall CX and drive a corresponding increase in ROI need to focus on creating an exceptional employee experience. Along with your efforts to maximize the customer journey, initiatives to understand, measure, and action on the employee experience at your organization, must be given the same level of attention.


Utilize the 3 P’s to Combat Supply Chain Disruption

by Lou Fratturo

If company leaders have learned anything over the last couple of years, it’s how critical their supply chain is to the experience of their customers, and ultimately, the bottom line of their business. Since it appears that disruption to the chain is here for the foreseeable future, it’s time to consider the 3 Ps to combat Supply Chain challenges:

Quick industry solves are unlikely so prepare yourself, your team, and most importantly, your customers for the long haul. There is a litany of Supply Chain software visibility tools in the market today that can give you real-time data. Use this data and then over-communicate the impacts to your customers. It’s far better for your customers to hear their order is stuck in Chicago for a few extra days than it is to not hear anything. Remember, in the absence of information, people often make up their own story, and when that happens, it’s normally not positive. Be sure to over-communicate and turn it into a competitive advantage.

Use the gift of hindsight to plan forward. There are multiple ways to minimize bottom-line impact from a planning perspective:

  • Purchase higher than needed quantities of consistently high-velocity SKU’s
  • Consider strategically cutting the number of SKU offerings for a period to reduce inventory expense which helps offset rising Supply Chain costs
  • Incentivize your customers to choose slower shipping delivery service in order to pool more orders together by region of the country
  • Begin investing in robotic and AI technology right now as labor shortages are here to stay thanks to the great resignation, government intervention, and a host of other reasons.
  • Reducing reliance on as many front-line warehouse and fulfillment center and contact center workers is a must go forward.

Be purposeful about investing in the talent of your organization. Some will choose to pull back on talent development when challenging times come. Those organizations that use these moments to invest with intentionality and purpose almost always advance ahead of their competition. Lean Process training helps your organization reduce waste, and improve efficiency targeted at executive and leader development can have positive ripple effects across the enterprise, and using Strategy as a catalyst for talent development are just a few of the ways to combat the challenges of today’s business environment.

Persevere, Plan, and be Purposeful.
There is no greater opportunity than right now to differentiate your leadership and your company from the rest of the pack. Seize the moment.

Profile picture of Jaci Reed.

Counterbalancing The Great Resignation in 2022

by Jaci Reed

While the world has continued to reel from the effects of COVID and the uncertainty it brought in 2020, an unexpected side effect has emerged in 2021 – the Great Resignation. More than 19 million US workers—and counting—have quit their jobs since April 2021. One reason for this trend is the record numbers of reported burnout.

With massive workforce shortages and more than one-third of U.S. workers likely to search for a job in the next six months (many of them women and baby boomers), what can you do to stem the tide starting now through 2022?

Get creative with how and who you recruit

  • Consider your talent pools and identify groups you may have neglected to focus on in the past (i.e., historically underrepresented populations like differently-abled professionals or remote workers)
  • Start an internship program and recruit from universities.
  • Promote internal talent mobilization practices as a vehicle to close the talent gap in key roles.
  • Adopt practices that emphasize best practices in diversity and inclusion.

Strategically focus on and invest in retention and engagement.

  • Workplace culture is one of the top three factors encouraging U.S. workers to remain in their current jobs. Great culture isn’t just something that happens, it’s the outcome from intentionally reinforcing specific behaviors. Design structures, processes, procedures, and policies across every phase of the employee lifecycle to reinforce, support, and incentivize the behaviors you want to see. 
  • Produce quick wins and focus on what matters most to your employees by providing avenues for feedback and clear communication about how you will act on that feedback.
  • Provide a shared value proposition, not just compensation. 
  • Implement practices and benefits that promote employee wellbeing; things like additional paid time off, condensed workweeks, flexible schedules, remote work options, company-wide mental health days, and workload management.

Ensure you are institutionalizing tenured knowledge and expertise by creating avenues to disperse it throughout your workforce.

Bottom line in talent management for 2022:

  • Executive teams will have to intentionally invest in the people operations side of the business in a way they likely haven’t before. 
  • Businesses will have to make a shift from an employee-centered value approach and focus efforts on a human-centered culture which includes how your people contribute, grow, engage, connect, find purpose, and care for themselves.

Reimagine In-Person Collaboration

by Craig Wiley

Significant in-person group collaborations are back in 2022! Our trends show executives are beyond eager to get people together to elevate and evolve the business. The challenge- more than half of white-collar workers are still remote, and many work from greater distances than ever. This means gatherings will take on new cadence, time requirements, and business investment. In-person collaborations for a business as usual (BAU) focus will be met with resistance since remote working is proven to deliver effective results across BAU topics. Therefore, reimagining the purpose, structure, and impact of in-person collaboration is a necessity for success. 

How does a leader evolve their team collaborations to deliver next-level impact and engagement? Make future strategy and execution the core of your large group in-person collaborations. Consider a multi-day quarterly cadence with your best and brightest to innovate the business.

  • Start Q1 with a three-year vision rollout with core goals and 2022 annual initiatives to deliver non-BAU enterprise and revenue growth. During this meeting, organize smaller execution groups to own single initiatives that connect the larger goals. Use the night in-between the two days of intense collaboration to celebrate, connect and reinforce what makes your community of talented leaders exceptional.  
  • Use Q2 and 3 to have execution groups report on progress and hothouse solve for core challenges in their area of innovation via cross-functional teaming.  
  • Leverage Q4 for finalization of initiatives, celebrations of the accomplishments, and the development of the 2023 strategy.  

Strategy as a cornerstone of large group collaborations is a profoundly different model that is proven to generate exceptional ROI for the business and drive employee engagement. Executives may wonder if this approach is too much, but we often ask, “Is 8 dedicated days a year too much to devote to aligning on and delivering your innovation strategy?” The answer is clear. As executives struggle to keep talent and gain speed in the current environment, companies that reimagine their collaboration practices for the new normal will lead the future.

Powering Productivity with Positivity in 2022

by Nikki Murphy

For everything the pandemic impacted in the past two years, it has also given us multiple gifts. One of which is a renewed purpose and a reconnection to the things that matter most to us, both personally and professionally. Those organizations who double down on this connection, focus energy and resources on a culture and environment that fulfills that need for purpose will thrive in 2022. Two tips for using positivity to drive productivity are strengths and bright spots.

  • GALLUP has shown for decades that strengths-based leadership yields tangible results for productivity and profitability (among many other things); this requires an overhaul of our autocratic leadership habits. Gone are the days of annual reviews for employees, in which you describe behaviors and skills that need improvement; instead, those organizations leading the way today are intentionally positioning their employees to utilize their innate talents and focus on work that fuels their passion.
  • In their book “Switch”, the Heath brothers discuss the bright spot philosophy: what is working and how we can do more of it. For executives, this means committing to focus on scaling what’s working that might be overlooked. Our engrained leadership tendency is to draw focus and valuable resources to problems seeking corrective solutions, often wasting energy and creating burnout. We often uncover diamonds in the rough within businesses we serve, and when given equal energy, they lead to unimaginable results.

Like any talent, positivity comes naturally for some and requires intentional focus for others; there is overwhelming evidence that harnessing its power can engage teams and lead to surprising outcomes. And the best part? Positivity is always free!

The Leadership Trifecta: Empathy. Resiliency. Agility.

by Andrea Dowding

2021 required more from Executives, Leaders, and everyone as people.

  • The Pivot was Real. The economic landscape was ever-changing, and the need to innovate and reimagine was constant.
  • The Same Front Door. The lines blurred more than ever between work life and home life. “Leaving issues at either door” was almost impossible as work and home shared the same ecosystem.
  • Social and Political Issues Came to Work. Ongoing social upheaval and political division forced the need for workplace discussions, policy decisions, and general statements that many executive teams were ill-equipped to facilitate and lead.
  • Burn out and Fall Out. The pandemic has been a powerful accelerant that fanned the fires of burnout and fall out in the workforce affecting employee mental health and potential organizational health.

Empathy Cultivates a more Resilient and Agile workforce.
2021 required both organizational AND emotional agility to successfully execute performance in a dynamic year. The most successful leaders operated at the tactical and emotional levels. However, emotional agility won the day by enabling better responses to crises and change. The same will be true in the year to come. 

A higher level of leadership transparency, empathy, and connection will be needed to effectively respond to rapidly changing business and workforce needs. Empathy and transparency create a psychologically safe workplace where employees discuss difficult topics and share their perspectives. Developing the executive skills to connect on a deeper, more personal level is critical for understanding perspective and building the trust required for high-performing teams.

It is often said that empathy understands. Every human has experienced and processed the effects of the pandemic, the current social and political climate, and their personal situations through their unique perspective. The processing is not done.  

As leaders, it takes courage to demonstrate empathy and provide opportunities to understand and appreciate someone else’s life experiences through their lens. Empathy brings value and connection to the relationship. It is a catalyst for bringing fearless transparency and vulnerability to the process of sharing ideas and giving and receiving feedback. It builds trust and ultimately produces better results for the business.

  • Empathy builds Trust
  • Trust Empowers Resiliency
  • Resilient Teams Fuel Agility

Empathy. Resiliency. Agility. Winning businesses in 2022 will continue to intentionally strengthen all three attributes.

While executives may long for business as usual, the acceleration of dynamics created a new and enduring business landscape. What has been seen cannot be unseen.

While the pandemic required massive executive decisions, the most important decisions lie ahead. Will executives leverage emerging dynamics to build better businesses, or will they suppress the genius and innovation spurred by the pandemic to advocate for antiquated business, consumer, and talent models? Those that embrace the new normal will lead the future of business, and those that resist will fatigue against the real currents of transformation. Intentionally leveraging just a few of our 2022 insights will orient executives in the right direction to lead confidently in the new normal.

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