What Will It Take To Be A Great Manager In The Future?

It turns out that we need to learn how to do more collaborating
It turns out that we need to learn how to do more collaborating
Image Credit: Sgt. Pepper57

I think that we can all agree that the world that we live in is changing. In fact, at times it seems to be changing very quickly. As managers we need to be asking ourselves what we are going to have to do in order to be effective managers in the future. This is actually a good question with no clear answer. However, we do know that the manager skills that we have to today are going to have to grow and change in order to be able to deal with the world of tomorrow. Now the question is how are we going to make that happen?

Time Are Changing – Are You?

I’m pretty sure that we’d all like to think that what it takes to be a good boss has not changed. Oh sure, the office has undergone massive changes in the past few years, but we’d like to think that our job has not changed all that much. Well guess what? If that’s what you’ve been thinking, then you are wrong. It may be time for the manager that we used to be to go extinct. Cost-cutting measures first implemented during the recent financial crisis mean that the average manager today has twice the number of direct reports as a manager just a few years ago did. This is a trend that management experts predict will continue long after the effects of the coronavirus pandemic are over. Just to change things even more, an increasing number of tasks that once ate up a manager’s time, such as auditing and approving expense reports, have been automated.

What we’ve been seeing happening is that there are fewer managers and each of us have more reports. A new model for being a manager is staring to emerge that involves having us do less administrative work. Going forward this manager is a coach, not a dictator. Through manager training we are now being asked to become a mentor, but not necessarily because of our experience with sales or programming. Where previous managers may have sought to stand out, this new breed of managers excel at fostering collaboration and using team building. When you look around, you may be startled to discover that these managers will be younger than you are, with less industry experience.

What will be required of us in the future? Going forward managers are going to be less technical experts and more social-emotional experts, in order to help employees navigate the culture of the organization. Managers will continue overseeing larger numbers of employees in coming years, as the past decade’s trend is accelerated by organizational changes driven by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. This in includes things such as remote work.

What Will Be Required From Managers In The Future

Managers in previous generations tended to be excellent individual contributors who were promoted to management positions so they could be the person to teach teams. This was a model that functioned effectively as long as the rate of change in the workplace remained fairly low. The job of being a manager will be changing as technology such as automation and artificial intelligence replaces nearly 70% of a manager’s workload in the next four years. Our work will continue to become more about idea generation and developing our talent. Without the need to devote as much time to business tasks, we will be able to focus on coaching employees and providing emotional support.

As the role of the manager shifts from authority figure to nurturer winning our workers over rather than issuing directives will continue to gain importance. This is the type of management behavior that originated primarily from large, publicly traded companies and, though not yet observable in all industries, is cascading down to smaller organizations. The changing job description of a manager and increased expectations from workers means a different type of employee will be considered management material. Those with highly developed social abilities, including the capacity to interact with an unfamiliar person effectively, good listening skills, real-time processing skills are the ones who will pull ahead. What we need to realize is that over time, these types of skills will keep gaining share relative to technical skills.

The changes in the skills that we need in order to be a good managers will prove especially true in virtual environments, where the ability to gain employee trust and engagement over digital platforms will become crucial. The way you get a ‘great place to work’ label is mainly the questions that are focused on trust. As managers we need to ask ourselves if we are using technology to try to do my best to create a great workplace? Or am I using technology to get all the analytics to try to control someone’s professional life? This means that how managers learn will need to change, too. Management training has traditionally focused on educating leaders to run the business, increasingly it needs to be geared toward training managers to manage through, and in some cases drive, rapid change.

What All Of This Means For You

It has never been easy to be a good manager. With all of the changes that are currently going on in both the world and the workplace, it is becoming even more difficult to be good at what we do. Managers need to understand that what it took to be a good manager in the past is now changing. If we want to be good managers in the future, the skills that we bring to the table will be different from the skills that have gotten us this far.

What it takes to be a good manager is in the process of changing. Over time managers have been given more and more direct reports as many of the tasks that we have been doing have started to be automated. Going forward we are being asked to become more of a coach or mentor. Managers will be managing more workers and we’ll be expected to be less of a technical expert and more of a more social-emotional expert. In the future, managers are going to be sources of new ideas and developers of talent. It is going to be our job to win our workers over. Managers are going to have to find ways to get their workers to trust them.

One of the requirements of being a good manager is that we are always willing to keep on learning and growing. We need to be willing to be open to new ideas and willing to work with the members of our team. These are the skills that we are going to have to be willing to work on as we move forward. If we can master the new skills that we need, then we can become great managers in the future.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: How much of your time do you think that you need to spend coaching team members?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental IT Leader Blog is updated.
P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental IT Leader Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

By now you have probably been hearing a lot about artificial intelligence (AI). We all know that this powerful new technology is entering our lives. At home we’ve seen it sneak in through tools that we use every day like Seri and Alexa. However, as managers we also have to realize that AI is starting to enter the workplace. When it arrives, it is going to change everyone’s lives. This means that the jobs that we used to do will either go away or will be changed. Are you going to be ready to use your manager skills when this happens?