A study by an American anthropologist talks about the birth of a new theory from the commonly known VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) acronym to the now newly coined BANI theory. BANI suggests that the world today has become brittle, anxious, non-linear and incomprehensible.
With climate change, the end of the pandemic and the start of a new war and economic downfall, this new theory talks about the world losing its linearity and moving to a stage where people, and for our purpose, organisations, have to brace for constant change.
Jaikrishna B, president-HR, Amara Raja Group, cites this theory as a turning point in human resources and believes the tenets of the tripod to be of great importance today.
“More the uncertainty, more the missing human touch, greater the need for tripods.”
Adil Malia, CEO, The Firm
The tripod of work is a theory developed by Gillian Stamp that emphasises the importance of a healthy workplace with the help of the three core tenets.
It helps visualise tensions felt by everyone when managing and adds great value in teaching leaders to understand the dynamics within themselves and their relationship with others.
At its core it stems from the importance of open dialogue among people from all levels of work and a diverse organisation with workers from a wide range of cultural backgrounds to help be more effective as individuals and team members.
The tripod allows for a clear thought process while ‘tasking’ subordinates. It ensures that employers maintain a level of ‘trust’ with their employees by giving them the freedom to complete their tasks and making sure they are on the right track. It also ensures that they are ‘tended’ to and helps them to focus on their goals. In this way it creates growth opportunities and helps employees feel connected to the organisation.
The efficacy of the tripod is dependent on these three factors:
Tasking is the process of sharing information and intent. It is the job of the organisation to explain to their teams, the work that needs to be done. This is when you set deadlines, expectations and define the quality of work required for a certain task.
Delegating tasks could also lead to others asking questions about control and trust. This is where the balance between tasking and trust needs to be found. For instance defining limits for exercising judgement could be a good way to establish a balanced approach to a task.
When tasking, it is imperative that you and the team are in sync with the work on hand. Details about the projects must be understood by all involved. It is best to specify what each member is expected to do as well as set timelines for each task. The last thing you’d want to do is set unrealistic expectations in unachievable timelines.
“To tend is to show compassion, appreciate the needs of others and act upon them.”
Jaikrishna B, president – group HR, Amara Raja Group
It is also crucial to understand the limits of your team members. Do they have the skills? Are they knowledgeable enough to complete the task? Where could they need assistance to complete the tasks? These are questions one should ask themselves before assigning work, to ensure a balance is maintained.
Adil Malia, senior HR leader and CEO, The Firm, believes that the new generation of employees, confidential and self-reliant as they may seem, feel an acute need to depend. This makes it more difficult for employers to identify weaknesses in their employees and delegate work accordingly.
It is important that your team knows and feels that you trust them to get work done on time and in accordance with the standards set by you. This allows for a team to work with confidence, independently.
A Thiru, ex-group president human resources at Cadila Pharmaceuticals, believes that a lack of trust in one’s employees could lead to inefficiency as it creates unwarranted anxiety that leads to further delay in work.
As employees visit office spaces less frequently with the onset of hybrid working arrangements, it has become increasingly difficult for companies to build a relationship of trust with their employees. Thus, taking steps to build that trust has become of utmost importance to organisations, says Jaikrishna.
With trust, creating a pleasant work environment becomes simple, allowing a group to have a singular vision resulting in less friction.
A lack of trust in a team or organisation could lead to catastrophe, creating dysfunctional work environments and hidden agendas, leading to unhappy and dissatisfied workers.
For a coherent organisation, trust needs to be tended. The perfect balance between trust and tending creates an environment where employees work towards a common goal, thus, achieving better results within the given time frame.
In corporate terms, tending refers to the process of monitoring work without getting too close or interfering. As a leader you want to be able to ensure your team is on the right track without making it seem like you don’t trust them.
Jaikrishna B believes the role of a leader needs to evolve with the times.
“To stay ahead of the competition and prioritise agility, trust could play a vital role in encouraging faster results from your employees.”
A Thiru, ex-group president human resources, Cadilla Pharmaceuticals
Jaikrishna emphasises the importance of tending in today’s volatile times, especially with the upcoming generation of workers. Putting others’ needs before yours as a leader is a must in today’s corporate world.
The way today to retain your workers is about understanding their individual needs and being flexible in your policy and approach. The new generation of employees is very demanding and knows their worth in the market. They expect their employers to act on their demands and employers cannot call them unfair, he says.
Finding the balance between tending and tasking is difficult but could be achieved with constant reviews. Since you have a deadline, constantly reaching out to your team and ensuring that they are on the right track is vital. This also gives you an opportunity to provide input and renewed direction.
The tripod of work has proven to be an effective module for leaders to follow. It teaches leaders to be more respectful and compassionate towards their subordinates, though the definitions for the three core tenets could be tweaked to suit the uncertain times we are in today.
“The tripod, in its essence, is believed to have timeless relevance,” opines Malia.
The tripod provides a solid foundation for corporate leadership and seems to achieve what it strives to, provided that a concerted effort is made to strike a fair balance between Trusting, Tasking and Tending by those implementing it.