The best of times could spell worst of times for managers

Joe
Joe Sherren
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For those of you who recently accepted the responsibility of becoming a manager I applaud you. You have just taken on one of the hardest jobs you will ever experience, yet it also has the potential of being the most rewarding job you will ever have. There is a growing need for exceptional managers like you who genuinely want their staff to succeed and feel excited about coming to work.

However, the position of manager will be increasingly difficult over the next 10 years. Employees are fed up with the traditional "sink or swim" style of management, which leaves people feeling abandoned, disengaged and looking for guidance from a boss who really cares about them.

Over the next 10 years, we will see as many as five different generations working together. This diversity within the workforce has never happened before and each of these groups comes with their own value systems, their own experiences, their own technical skills, and their own social conditioning. If managed correctly, this diverse workforce also represents a wealth of resources.

For the past 20 years, companies have focused on building teams and creating collaborative cultures. Unfortunately, this new workforce may set the empowerment initiative back significantly, primarily since each generation is motivated by different fundamentals. As a result, a new understanding of the evolution of motivation will be necessary to retain to best.

As well, we will experience a shortage of skilled workers in many critical professions. This is already happening in areas like IT, medicine and engineering. In fact, has anyone tried to hire an electrician or a carpenter lately? Competent workers are retiring en masse.

Hiring and succession planning will require innovative new techniques. Scientifically validated assessments and behavioural interviewing will soon become the standard.

Many current policies, practices and systems will need to be pulled out by the roots. Trimming the bushes of change will not work. One of the first dinosaurs to go will be the outmoded "annual performance appraisal". Neither the new generations, nor the older workers will tolerate it, and it has now been proven to be ineffective.

The new workforce requires a culture of engagement and organizations will need to be less hierarchical and focused on work output. Tasks must be meaningful; networking and virtual connecting (aka social media) will be the way of life. Believe it or not, some businesses still do not allow social media in the workplace. Most of all, the new workforce requires direct, ongoing coaching and guidance.

Organizations will also need to be more flexible about job sharing, phased-in retirements, shorter work weeks and longer days. People will no longer be paid to be prisoners at a desk from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m . Compensation will be based on work output, not just for showing up.

This all spells out great opportunities for managers. Exceptional managers who are willing to take risks, challenge the status quo and invest in their own skills development. A manager who will truly focus on developing employees will become the most valued individual in any organization, no matter what the industry.

My question for managers this week: "Are you a manager who will embrace the new workforce and invest in learning the techniques and patterns of being a constructive coach who engages their staff to achieve high performance?"

Joseph Sherren, international business transformation specialist, can be reached at (902) 437-6998, or check his website www.gatewayleadership.com

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