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Companies Are Revolutionising How People Work

In the new work place, frontline management is less about managing people and more about managing behavior. It is about creating an environment in which people find it desirable to devote their full effort to the task at hand, to exercise initiative, to cooperate constructively with their colleagues. Here’s a look at what has changed and why:

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Not long ago, millennials were the new kids on the block. Well, not anymore. In fact, the oldest of the lot are now running things – teams and projects and even companies. And as they ascend to senior roles, they are changing the way we manage.

Sooner or later, every technological revolution gives rise to an organizational revolution. Like right now, companies across the economy are using digital technologies and advanced analytics to unlock new sources of economic value, improvements in customer focus, productivity, flexibility, and speed. And running parallel is an organizational revolution-in-the-making, transforming not just what companies do but how they do it. One of the key factors accelerating this transformation is the fact that a vast majority of the managers (primarily composed of millennials) are changing the way we manage. 

In the new work place, frontline management is less about managing people and more about managing behavior. It is about creating an environment in which people find it desirable to devote their full effort to the task at hand, to exercise initiative, to cooperate constructively with their colleagues. Here’s a look at what has changed and why:

Millennial managers are more willing to adopt and invest in technology to make work seamless, more collaborative & agile. While Agile started in software development, companies and managers are increasingly applying the agile model to non-software activities such as marketing, customer service, and even management. This agile revolution has transformed the traditional model of management, what managers have to do and how they need to work. In some cases, it has even redefined who needs to be a manager. The millennial manager (probably the first “flexible work natives” in our economy) are far more likely to adapt to this change. These managers are also twice as likely as boomers to invest in technology supporting new, more flexible arrangements, such as remote and freelance work. Therefore, strengthening infrastructural facilities (hardware, software, policies) to support these changes will be crucial.  

New managers are more comfortable using data to manage better rather than rely on just instinct/experience. Having born and brought up in a time with almost unlimited access to information, they are savvy about using it at and outside work including in management areas. They as managers will probably source candidates through social media networks, scan & process social media for information about these candidates, crowdsource ideas & resources, process multiple data sources to understand patterns, feedback or information, etc. This innate ability to apply data and not fear it will be a huge strength.

More and more millennial managers are finding traditional ways of managing irrelevant / obsolete. However, what has really changed is the way in which they manage. The command & control model is no longer sufficient to lead teams in the agile world. Managers are increasingly realising that in order to be effective, they have to be able to influence behaviours to help unleash employees’ autonomy and initiative. 

Managerial career paths are fast evolving to suit the increasing complexity of businesses and in the process making the typical managerial career path quite redundant. The erstwhile traditional path was characterised by progressive increase in an individual’s span of control in a single domain or activity like for instance project management. By contrast, career progression in the future is likely to be defined by an individual’s capacity to influence behaviour in organizational contexts of ever increasing complexity. Increasingly complex tasks often require the integration of new kinds of specialized expertise and roles. However, it is impossible for any manager to grasp the full range of knowledge and capabilities that is required and add value, without being close to the actual work. 

Seeing the above, the future managerial role is not that of a manager but an ‘Integrator’. He or she is responsible for managing effective cooperation and integration of all the diverse perspectives and capabilities of team members around the task. No doubt it is an extremely challenging job. 

That effectively reimagines how we as HR and leaders must develop our managers. What will help the manager to be an effective integrator? The answer is power, but not the kind of power that comes from being someone’s supervisor or controlling his or her career progression. Rather, it is the power that comes from the capacity to make a difference in the individual team members goals. As our millennial and gen Zers step into more senior roles, they will most certainly reshape the workplace around these preferences.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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Krish Shankar

The author is Executive Vice President and Group Head, Human Resource Development at Infosys

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