The workplace of the future is flexible, gender-neutral, and focused on employee satisfaction. Part of the reason for this is that millennials are said to be more desirous of workplace mobility and job-hopping since their standards for the ideal workplace are more stringent. They have higher expectations for corporate social responsibility (CSR), and they want to feel well-connected and communicated with.
Because of this, companies have been focusing more on cultivating ways to both attract and retain employees—both young and old. For example, according to Forbes, “Companies [will] focus on improving their candidate and employee experiences.” Moreover, you may have heard something about workplace culture becoming more flexible. The standards for the typical work-week is also changing, with what was once known as work-life balance now being termed “work-life fit,” to better suit a company culture more in tune with employees’ personal and family-related business. For example, parents may want the freedom to work from home, in the afternoon, in order to accommodate their children’s school schedules.
Companies are shifting toward a ‘work-life fit’ because of workplace stress burning employees out and having a negative impact on their health. A true balance between work and life is becoming a crucial part of what top employers are doing to help manage workplace stress. Employees must feel healthy and happy in order to be able to perform well, in the workplace. When additional benefits like increased employee recognition, involvement, growth, and development are added to the mix, it makes for a much more well-rounded and attractive workplace environment for everyone involved, from the ground up.
Okay, so workplaces should be more enticing—nay, as enticing as possible! But how can management teams and department supervisors best follow suit? Carrying over from 2016 trends, business leaders need to tap employees’ hidden strengths. Managers can, for example, provide opportunities for presentation and ownership of work—during meetings, say, or team collaboration times. There’s also the need to open more executive positions to women, considering only 5.2 percent of women were CEOs in Fortune 500 companies in 2014. Although this percentage has substantially increased from 1997, when only 0.4 percent of women were represented, but there’s plenty of room for improvement!
Speaking of women, Psychology Today recently outlined a study that found women to be better managers than men—most notably in the area of personal engagement. Specifically, “According to Gallup’s data, 41% of female managers are engaged at work, compared to 35% of male managers.” Moreover, women were also found to be stronger in the areas of employee development, communication and feedback, and employee recognition. Although these findings may be seen as controversial or arguably, they provide all the more reason to promote women into management-level positions.
Other desirable leadership qualities include a good business education, since good leaders need to be knowledgeable about finance, analytics, marketing, and ethics. Good supervisors should also possess the ability to maintain a positive outlook in the face of various work-related stressors and challenges. Moreover, the best leaders remain calm, regardless of the circumstances, and manage to convey a confident demeanor, in the midst of uncertainty. They shouldn’t be afraid to ask employees for feedback on projects or decisions, seeing those around them as part of a cooperative team.
According to Glenn Llopis, the best leaders are also problem solvers. In addition, the best problem solvers are thoughtful and wise in their approach, having the patience to see “around, beneath and beyond the problem itself.” Llopis lists four specific components of good problem solving: transparent communication; a willingness to break down silos; the ability to find like-mindedness in differences; and the ability to connect the dots. To clarify, ‘silos’ encourage hidden agendas, corporate politicking, and secretiveness—as opposed to open lines of communication and collaboration between departments.
In case you’re beginning to feel overwhelmed at all the possibilities for desirable leadership traits, Mark Murphy penned an article just this week naming what he considers to be the three leadership skills that managers will need in 2017. First, he stresses the importance of regular performance reviews for employees—regardless of whether annual reviews are still a thing, in your workplace. If you have to ask yourself if you check in with your team members frequently enough, the answer is probably no. Be sure to give sufficient feedback so that employees know where they stand, in terms of job performance and both short and long-term goals.
The second skill Murphy discusses is the ability to manage an “increasingly remote and virtual workforce.” Part of the reason for this is that, as previously mentioned, more and more people are demanding a more flexible work schedule, and working remotely is part of that ideal schedule. Do you employ remote instant messaging tools like Slack or Google Chat to communicate with all employees, regardless of current location? And finally, do you possess enough emotional intelligence to communicate with people, regardless of their current emotional state? Murphy cites the recent election as one reason for the increased emotionalism of many employees, as of late. At any rate, it’s important to draw on a number of empathic techniques in when communicating feedback that is constructive, if critical, in order to be truly helpful.
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Heading into 2017, we’ll want to be more flexible and forward-thinking than ever before, with an ear toward good listening, thorough communication, and wise planning ahead for the future. In order to anticipate potential problems and roadblocks, we’ll need to work together—rather than relying only on ourselves, as managers—in order to come to the best, most strategic conclusions. Problem solving, open lines of communication, and emotional intelligence will take us a long way, if we let them.
Do you have any success stories of workplace teamwork or communication? Share your experiences in the comments section, below!