In our imagination, the future looks a lot like a sci-fi thriller: fast-paced, high tech, and extremely efficient. The inclusion of emerging technologies like machine learning and AI in various industries means many jobs will be redefined by technology in the future. In fact, most industries are expected to be fully digitized by 2025.
As technology advances, innovations will help employees and employers connect and communicate with each other better. As a result, integrated business models will help reshape skill sets. Harvard Business Review reports that 90% of major business industries profess to have a digital strategy in place. But the rapid pace of change is creating a skills gap, stopping many organizations from moving more quickly.
As a result, skill sets across the country — and world — needs to adapt to new, integrated ways of working…and managers will need to meet those demands. There are seven skills managers will need to continue to embrace and learn to succeed by 2025:
Tech Management Skills
No employment industry will be left immune to technology’s effects. Although we won’t see a sudden disruption of AI and machine learning right away in our workplaces, technology will become increasingly utilized. Managers will need to accurately understand technology to utilize its challenges and opportunities within data management, career and skill development, workplace roles, and privacy to name a few areas of concern. Currently, managers spend 54% of their time on administrative tasks, but as AI robots can format and create reports and schedule appointments, managers can spend more time working on more challenging business endeavors.
As technology changes, managers will need to continuously educate themselves on new operating systems so they can keep up with emerging issues. Although they may not hold solely technical roles, they’ll need to know how to work with AI technologies as non-technical professionals so they can help their employees learn these roles. In an ever-changing landscape, managers will need to be a constant, stable factor as they embrace new technologies and become skilled at the changing workplace dynamics.
Soft Skill Assessment
Just as all employees will need technical skills, soft skills will be a prime character trait for managers to develop themselves so they can assess it in future hires. This means skills like listening, efficient communication, positive attitudes, accepting feedback, and great time management are required. Managers will need to evaluate candidates for a combination of critical thinking and creative-minded problem solving as the technological pace of the workplace escalates. Emerging technological tools will help future managers assess soft skills, but managers will also need soft skills to understand their employees and their learning process as the world becomes more digitized. Conferencing and automated tools will help managers build long-term success with trained professionals and also build influence as a trusted consultant.
Diverse Team Management
With new modes of operating, teams will likely collaborate more with contractors, consultants, and with each other. Managers are going to need to learn to build cultures in non-traditional work environments. As a result, teams will become more diverse. As Gen Z enters the workforce and baby boomers work past their retirement age, there will be a need for cross-generational collaboration. These shifting demographics mean diverse teams are essential to staying afloat, and that managers and leaders will need to be inclusive and sensitive to everyone.
Obviously, harmonious teams are an ideal, but it’s not always reality. So, managers and business leaders will have to foster environments of engaging collaboration and constructive debate. As change hits different sectors, managers will need to question traditional business roles so they can more efficiently modify their business practices. Leading teams with a bit of tension can lead to innovative ideas and better results.
The digital world will bring about clearer, more immersive ways of communicating. As a result, managers are going to need higher levels of transparency and communication. Today, managers are constantly worried about protecting their company’s privacy and keeping information confidential. However, in a world where digital leaks are more likely to happen, managers will have to help mold transparency strategies that allow employees to know more about salary and work practices. In fact, a 2016 Pew Research Survey found that employment is higher when there is more average or over-average interpersonal management and communication skills. Diverse teams need managers they can trust. Open, face-to-face communication is the way to go.
Results-Only Work Focus
Managers will need to know how to gain the most productivity out of their workforce. Results-only work practices (ROWE) will be a mindset that managers need to enforce as part of the work culture. ROWE focuses on principles such as accountability and freedom. As a result, the specifics of where and how employees work won’t carry such importance. High-functioning managers will concentrate more on results and output. In many industries, freelance and contract workers will be on the rise. In fact, 40% of U.S. workers are expected to become freelancers by 2020.
In addition to automated tools changing our workforce, managers will need to gather the talent needed to complete tasks. Because processes and completing tasks will become smoother with automated gadgets and other innovations, it will be more about optimizing certain skills rather than the work process. It will be less about hours put in and more about results. With more flexibility in the workplace, managers will need to focus on communication strategy and relationship and conflict management will take a higher precedence.
Out-Centric Leadership Principles
In the future, effective managers will also be less hierarchical and more collaborative. Managers will need to understand their employees and, as leaders, they are going to work in tight labor markets. According to a 2016 Deloitte Transiting to the Future of Work and the Workplace study, 40% of executives expect to increase the communication and collaboration between higher management and workers. The major shift from “top-down” structures to “alongside” workplace organization is a crucial part of future innovations. Out-centric policies initiated by the manager can help focus on developing employees and teams so all employees can be active and valued contributors. The manager will listen, rather than dictate, to team members in order to improve team needs.
Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
Over the next 8-10 years, it’s expected that emotional intelligence will become a more prominent component of business principles. A high-level of emotional intelligence means employees are self-aware, and therefore, knowledgeable of their strengths and weaknesses. Not only will managers need to have the correct soft skills assessment, but they need to seek mentor and colleague assistance to identify emotionally intelligent individuals. Those with higher EQs tend to show greater empathy towards their clients and understand the mentalities of their competitors better. A recent Virginia Commonwealth University study reports that emotionally intelligent workers are more successful in job performance.
When necessary, managers can gain greater insight and assess what isn’t working right in their teams because they can understand it from their workers’ point of view. As managers meet the demands of Millennial and Gen Z workers, they can create better environments for workers and improve a more developed management culture.
Managing the Future
Technology can help us adapt to work practices that are healthier for ourselves and the economy. As managers learn the ropes of new gadgets like AI and machine learning, they will also learn more efficient practices that integrate empathy, critical thinking, and creativity for more successful business practices and better workplace environments.
Blue-collar and white-collar industries alike will have to adapt to working more mobily, collaboratively, and openly in an increasingly interconnected, fast-paced world. As it turns out, this high-tech landscape isn’t just like the cold, artificial landscape of sci-fi. In reality, it helps us manage and understand the compassionate, human side of business while reshaping the way we work for the better.