Leaders need to mobilize change-ready workforces

Rita J. King, co-director and EVP for business development at Science House, recently conducted a series of interviews with business leaders, exploring the challenges and hurdles companies face in evolving business landscapes. In this interview, King chats with Jen Bruno, SVP of culture and human capital at LPL Financial, about mobilizing a change-ready workforce, leadership rotation programs, and fostering continuous learning.

Here are some highlights from their conversation:

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The reality, Bruno argues, is that businesses are in a state of change. And while humans tend to have a hard time with change, the time is ripe for people to take advantage of the coming changes to grow and develop. “Companies have a hard time mobilizing a workforce that is change-ready because people inherently want to do what they know; we build our careers on the skills that have allowed us to move to the next level. We’re at a time right now where people can look beyond that and use those skills in another department or a new area; crossing over can enable the imagination, the creativity, and the innovation that companies so desperately want in order to grow and best serve their customers. It’s an exciting opportunity for people to think of themselves as change agents and be willing to crossover and work in different areas, leveraging what they know and learning what they don’t know. (06:23)

Bridging culture gaps—and communication gaps— between departments is essential, Bruno says, to enable teams to work together efficiently and effectively to reap better outcomes. Creating these working relationship bridges, she argues, starts at the top. “I’m a big fan of having leaders rotate through the different jobs within an organization. The true way to learn empathy is to do the work yourself and understand what the people in specific roles go through on a day-to-day business. You’ll have a better understanding of the business operation as a whole. I think it makes you a better business leader because it does help develop that empathy, and it allows you to build your network of people internally, and that’s really important too.” (10:56)

The key to weathering the transition to what work will become in the future, Bruno argues, is continuous learning. “Every business professional should consider themselves a continuous learner. There is so much to learn from other organizations that have similar situations, from business people we have things in common with, and it’s important to be change-ready and willing to leverage what you know in different areas for the greater good. We should all be preparing ourselves as much as we can so we can bring value to the companies we work for, whatever that might look like.” To that end, it’s important for learning and development approaches to evolve, she says, to be more effective in the face of the changes coming our way. “I hope I never see a PowerPoint presentation being held up in a room for an hour while somebody talks to an audience, because that’s not really fostering learning in a way that gets people excited and engaged.” (13:59)