How we can make sure managers thrive in the future
With technology transforming the way we work, the future business landscape can appear exciting, yet uncertain. So, how do we prepare for change, when we don’t know what’s coming?
If we look at what we do know the future is going to bring, we can start talking about artificial intelligence, chat bots and automation of a whole host of business processes. No longer will it be the case that location matters, and dispersed, technologically advanced teams will become the norm.
But how does this affect the most important part of our businesses – our people? With studies showing that millennial managers are already ill-equipped to manage successfully, it’s time for L&D to think long-term and begin prepping managers to thrive in a shifting future.
Here are four key areas I think L&D should be considering to really prepare managers and set their business up for future success.
Recognise the evolution of skills
The skills needed for management in the modern workplace have evolved from the traditional set of skills with the introduction of different technologies, a desire for ‘ask’ rather than ‘tell’ management and flexible working.
Critical thinking, remote delegation and facilitation, among many, are making their way to the forefront. This is an opportunity for us to start thinking ahead and tailoring our solutions appropriately.
Ensure managers make time for themselves
In L&D we know the importance of developing managers. We’ve even discussed, at length, why they are our engagement allies, and how we can ensure we are focusing on their development. However, while this is easy to say, getting managers to appreciate the benefits of staying on top of their game and, importantly, doing something about it, is another challenge altogether.
Get to know your managers inside out, find out how they are really tackling their challenges and what they see coming.
Managers lack time – they are juggling team objectives, managing people, personal workloads, KPI’s and so much more. It’s difficult enough to focus on the current picture, let alone getting their buy-in for future-proofing themselves.
The key here is to embrace your inner marketer. Get to know your managers inside out, find out how they are really tackling their challenges and what they see coming. Listening to them is important – be on their side, develop solutions that work for them and then use your inner marketer to be persuasive.
Stay ahead of the game
Development is not just for managers. L&D need to be developing themselves too, and one key focus here should be ensuring you have the skills to stay ahead of the game.
This is important because, if we don’t know what’s coming, how it’s going to affect our people and how they can overcome these challenges, our people will eventually lose faith in us. And that’s a lose-lose situation that we definitely want to avoid.
We don’t want managers to discover challenges and have to face them by themselves – we need to be sure that we have solutions for them when they come to us for answers. And we can do this by having knowledge, not only of what’s coming, but how it’s going to affect the way people work and live.
Prepare for the next generation
Not only do our existing managers need development now and for the future, but those who have the potential to become managers will need us to help them grow into these roles. And if we want brilliant managers in 10 or 20 years’ time, we need to think about developing the next generation now.
Work with them to map their career paths and create learning journeys that help them achieve their goals; make sure they have the opportunity to upskill and gain valuable experience, in order that they can grow into these roles and be ready when the time comes.
Who truly knows what the future will bring. All we really know is that technology will continue to evolve the way we work.
It’s in all our interests to have skilled, flexible, forward-looking managers, both now and in the future, and L&D are in the unique position of being able to do something about it. By considering these points to help managers prepare for what work will be like in the years to come, you’ll not only be future-proofing your organisation, but creating a future in which managers can truly thrive.
Brian Kropp on the six trends your organisation should anticipate.
We come to you live (well, when we recorded it anyway) from Learning Technologies 2020 at London's Excel centre.
We publish an excerpt from Gavin Russell's new book Transformation Timebomb, focusing on culture.