This Insights article was contributed by JoAnn Toscano, visiting instructor at the Cameron School of Business, and Cameron Executive Network mentor.
In the past, companies have had the luxury of more time to adapt to change than that which is quickly becoming the standard today. In fact, on the technology front, many believe we are outpacing Moore’s Law, which states that technological processing power will likely double in as few as 18 months.
This means today’s businesses need to keep pace or they may face big problems that will affect not only their ability to be productive and efficient but also their ability to service their customers and be relevant in the marketplace (The Future of Work, 2015).
Consider the fact that changes used to be investigated, introduced and determined from the top. Resulting goals, training and procedures were directed down, and the person to execute the change was the last to learn about it.
Moving forward, the frontline employee will be the first to note a new opportunity to function more efficiently, and may actually become the expert at helping the company retool.
Moreover, the employees of the “future” will have a far different “productive space” in which to function. In many instances, they will have the ability to work within flexible hours and locations, allowing them to work at any time and in almost any place. They will benefit from the vast amounts of shared information that can be communicated openly in real time and they will shift from being knowledge workers to constant learners, based on technology and instant communication.
All this means they can provide a great deal of input in determining what new concepts might benefit productivity and enhance efficiencies. In fact, many will become leaders without having a management title. A new kind of personal power is coming to the forefront; knowledge is definitely power.
With this new model of evolving learning and unexpected emergent leaders in mind, the work force in 2020 could potentially consist of five generations ranging from Traditionalists, born in the early 1940s, to Boomers, Gen X-ers, Millennials and Generation Z. In fact, members of Generation Z could be working side-by-side with their grandparents, with both generations being fully functional, and with many of the same skills but not necessarily the same mindset.
Thus, everyone from executives and managers to key employees will need to know how to relate, respect and rely on people with whom they may not be able to share a beer, but must depend on to help solve problems with results that will prove beneficial to all.
As we enter this new climate, it is important to recognize that some new basic qualities amongst managers and organizational leaders must prevail alongside integrity, commitment, trust and the like.