June 30

Next Generation Leadership

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The world of work has seen many changes in recent years. Improvements in technology coupled with different expectations of millennials are causing changes in management styles and leadership. There is a much greater focus on employee mental health and wellbeing. In addition, the Covid pandemic really uprooted the way in which businesses function, and some of those changes seem to be here to stay.

In any organization, leadership is one of the most important factors governing the success of the company. It is either effective, leading to satisfied, motivated staff. Or it is ineffective, resulting in demotivated, unproductive staff. So what are the latest developments that managers should take note of?

New trends

1. Work/life integration

There is a greater focus on achieving a work/life balance than a few years ago. Employees are stressed to such an extent that it is being labeled the ‘second pandemic’ by some experts. The Covid pandemic caused many to re-assess their careers and what they really want from life. According to a McKinsey report, two-thirds of employees are doing this as a result of the pandemic, and millennials are three times more likely to be doing it.

These findings can have a significant impact on organizations’ ability to attract and retain talent. Employees are seeking a better work/life balance than many did in the past. There is much more of a trend to ‘work to live, not live to work.’ Managers need to embrace this by offering:

  • Flexible working – particularly to those who have caring responsibilities outside of the office
  • Wellbeing programs
  •  Health benefits

2. Organisational culture

Developing an organizational culture when you have employees based in different locations can be a challenge. But the culture is the personality of an organization, and managers need to develop it to make employees feel part of the organization and motivated to achieve.

Employees need a sense of purpose in their work, and this should come from management. In order to be motivated and satisfied, staff needs to feel that their purpose is aligned with that of the organization. An employee’s sense of purpose stems from:

  • Their life outside work – hobbies, relationships, interests.
  • The linking of their sense of purpose to the company – through meaningful tasks and projects.
  • The organization’s purpose – mission, values, and culture.

Building on the culture of the organization is the aspect that managers can affect, and they need to work on this. Employees will feel an increased sense of purpose if their goals are aligned with those of the company.

This requires much more than simply organizing a meeting and stating a few core values; it needs to be part of the intrinsic leadership of the organization so that it feeds down to the staff at all levels.

3. Working from home

The pandemic caused a seismic shift in working patterns, with many working from home for the first time. The benefits of this have been embraced by most employees who are keen to continue with it, for at least some of the time. This should be embraced by organizations that can reap the following benefits:

  • Reduced business costs – fewer buildings to heat and light.
  • A bigger talent pool to draw on – employees can be based anywhere.
  • Improved employee satisfaction.
  • Lower carbon footprint.

Managing staff remotely brings its own challenges, and there has to be an element of trust that managers will need to have in their staff. But as long as the work gets done, does it really matter where employees are based?

4. Career paths

Managers need to guide employees onto their next stage in order to retain staff. LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends 2020 report showed how powerful managing career paths could be, with 81% of talent professionals stating that it helps improve retention and 69% saying that existing staff moving into new roles improves productivity. A similar LinkedIn report the following year found that 51% of managers now believe it’s a greater priority than it was before the pandemic.

5. Diversity

Several McKinsey & Co reports have highlighted how companies that embrace diversity are better able to attract the best employees and improve their customer orientation, employee satisfaction, and decision making. This is due to the fact that an inclusive environment will inspire innovation, lower staff turnover, and reduce unlawful discrimination. Other research has also shown a link between gender, ethnic and cultural diversity, and financial performance.

Businesses must embrace forms of diversity in order to succeed. Recruiting diverse talent will benefit the organization and the employees. Setting up a policy of inclusion is important, and leaders are responsible for setting an example. In order to recruit the widest possible breadth of talent, careful consideration needs to go into where and when jobs are advertised.

6. Technology

Improvements in technology have given employees the ability to work from anywhere, and managers must embrace these changes. Technology gives staff flexibility to fit work around their lives. This freedom will not only bring them satisfaction but also motivate them.

Technology has also given leaders the ability to manage from anywhere. They have the ability to access anything at their fingertips. And meetings can now be conducted via Zoom rather than the effort of all having to travel to one place.

Technology has made it possible to overcome language barriers. Using Google Translate or similar, people can communicate with anyone in the world. If an organization is trying to break into a new market, this can be very beneficial. It is also easier to learn a new language using an appropriate app.

7. Self-awareness

A good leader will be able to admit when something goes wrong, take responsibility for it, and move on. Managers also need to be able to take decisive action quickly. Many businesses fail because the leaders cannot adapt to change or crisis rapidly. Being self-aware and encouraging others to be the same will aid preparation for unexpected events. Leaders must be able to assess strategies taken in the past and adapt them to meet new challenges.

Companies that embrace these new trends will reap the rewards in staff motivation and retention. Exhibition stand contractor, Quadrant2Design, is trying to do just this. MD Alan Jenkins said ‘We embrace diversity as a company and allow employees to have flexible working, and to work from home some of the time. We encourage self-awareness in our managers and create an inclusive culture. As a result, our staff turnover is low.’

Conclusion

Working practices are changing, and leaders need to adapt to meet these challenges. The pandemic had a big effect on businesses and employees, with some of the changes becoming permanent. Organizations that have managers who are able to adopt these changes will be rewarded with motivated and productive staff and lower staff turnover.


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