The U.S. labor force has changed over the last 25 years. Workers today have access to career opportunities that didn’t exist just ten years ago. Technology has equipped organizations with resources to help improve productivity and streamline processes in short order. The internet alone has created platforms to help people find jobs, get trained and share professional experiences that are vital to assisting businesses in meeting their mission objectives.
After over 15 years working in management-level positions, I am well-aware that the road to economic globalization is being built on the backs of highly skilled workers therefore making everyone’s role in an organization essential to business growth. However, successful businesses still heavily rely on the expertise of their management staff. The old saying, “a company is only as good as its leaders,” is still true. And in this day and age, when leaders are concerned about weak economic growth and down-sizing, there is a need to revisit, or revise, our game plan for creating productive work environments.
If I had to write a pocket-sized manual on preparing for management in the 21st century, here’s what it would say:
- Good managers should never display passive-aggressive behavior. Employees with passive-aggressive behavior will often show non-verbal aggression that manifest in negative conduct. These are colleagues or co-workers who refuse to take responsibility for tasks, purposely miss deadlines and go over their boss’s head to make him or her appear incompetent. Good managers should never play a role in aiding passive-aggressive behavior and more importantly, managers should never display similar behavior when dealing with their employees. Here’s an example: Your top producing employee comes into your office and ask for a pay increase without knowing that you were recently informed that due to budget constraints no one will receive bonuses or pay increases for the next 6 to 12 months. You are obviously frustrated to learn that you will not receive your much-needed Christmas bonus. But during the meeting, instead of being honest about the situation, you become irritated, insulting and dismissive. Although your actions fail to reflect your true feelings, the employee is left confused and angry. Effective managers must learn to be clear and honest about how they feel, particularly when the issue is important to the personal or professional livelihood of their staff. Don’t play emotional games with your staff and remember that you are setting the example for the entire team.
- Learn to appreciate the Millennial’s new work ethic. They will check their Facebook and Twitter accounts a few times a day during work hours. They will bring iPhones to meetings and Google what they don’t understand (or what they think you don’t understand). They will challenge your ability to do your job and recommend what they consider are lean processes that will make your head spin. And many of them may not stick around long enough to redeem a 401(k) or pension plan. But, on the bright side, Millennials will bring a level of creativity and technical savviness that can help you improve productivity. They will rightfully expect and aggressively fight for inclusiveness that will not only promote diversity in the workplace but will also allow you to learn from each employee’s unique personal and professional background. So, if you can overlook a few tattoos and piercings you will learn a lot from them and in return create a better work environment overall. Trust me.
- Never (ever) hesitate to make the BIG decisions. If your team thinks you’re weak, than you’re weak. Perception becomes reality. Being decisive as a leader shows that you are not afraid to make things happen and you have no fear of being accountable.
- Stay focused on what matters most. This rule will never change. Get focused on the mission, stay sensitive to the needs of your team, make decisions, be accountable and get the job done. That’s what effective management is all about.