One thing we will need much more of in the future, that we need much more of now, is good leadership. Leaders who understand what people now want from work, how to get the best from their employees, how to engage, motivate and retain them. And at the same time, get out of their way. The Future will be much more about leading people than routine task supervision.
The manager of 2025 will be managing everybody, anybody. Five generations in the workplace. Whatever the industry, the organisation, the sector, the people manager of 2025 will have a diverse team to lead.
Going back in time -- just for a moment
In the old days, management was all about the command and the control. Complex hierarchies and top- down decision making -- Scientific Management, Taylorism and Fordism. In this structure managers of people had a role as the cascade of information from the top to the troops.
Traditionally, the nature of work had employees firmly in the role of factor of production. Approaches to and theories about motivating the workforce were very much focused towards the lower end of Maslow's hierarchy -- pay for work done.
But work has changed
And is still changing. Problems with the 'tell them what to do and how to do' it school of management are widely acknowledged, and we are now much more accustomed to open and collaborative models. We know that there will always be a need for targets, routine tasks, supervising the day to day. Managing people still means these things today and tomorrow, but it encompasses so many other things too. Most organisations now understand the case for employee engagement and effective leadership.
People management -- as we know it -- is going into a decline
Or at least, a change of focus. There will still be the need to undertake those duties of everyday people management like providing feedback, coaching, developing and managing performance problems, dealing with all the stuff that employment law requires of us. The extent to which management will change will be industry, sector, and role specific. There will always be the need for routine task supervision in many places; whatever we think of scientific management in the call centre, the manufacturing plant, some of this approach is likely to still hold fast.
Who will these 2025 managers be managing?
Well firstly, if the trends stay at they are, it probably won't be someone with 30 years' service. The job for life has been disappearing for years, on both sides of the employment relationship. The trend towards shorter tenure is likely to continue.
Micro professionals are also on the rise. Social media makes it easier than ever for people to network their way to new contacts, new jobs, collaboration with other similar professionals. Link that to online labour markets and this may just become game changing.
Mix all this in with the fact that people are typically spending less time with their employers than in the past, and managers might be managing different people on a regular basis, for very short periods. Managing an established team over the long term might be in decline.
The line manager of 2025 may be managing people looking after others, driving, cleaning, hairdressing, or picking up and moving. Or, they may be managing people with some seriously high-end technical skill, that the manager doesn't even understand either (and arguably don't need to). There is a good chance that they won't be managing lots of other managers in a layered hierarchy -- so those rumours of the death of the middle manager may not be overstated after all.