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Managers’ Capability to Manage Changing Work Environments. “A Better Leader, a Better Work-Life.” – Tara Ratnayaka | Wellington

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ශ්‍රී LankaNZ is a free distributed Sri Lankan Community Newspaper that aims to reach a Sri Lankan population of over 18,000 all over New Zealand. The demand for entertainment in literacy media itself gave birth to ශ්‍රී LankaNZ

The working world is changing rapidly. The covid-19 pandemic accelerated this even more, and we all experienced the way we work has changed a lot from the way we used to many years ago.

Flexible working conditions are a vast topic that everyone came to talk about recently. Many people will have options where, when and how they work with the changing working conditions, and Hybrid workers will be more common in future workplaces. There are many ways that employees can request flexibility to their working life in terms of working hours, remote working, compressed hours, or alternative work stations etc. Flexibility is a significant change in the future way of work, and it will allow people to have work-life balance by having desk space, personal space, family space, and social space in their life. Handling flexibility is the most challenging part for people leaders. Adopting flexible work patterns without having a good awareness and attitudes will lead to more employee relations issues. 

 “New Zealand Remote Working during COVID19 survey done by Otago Uni reveals lockdown, Before the outbreak of COVID19, and the subsequent Lockdown, 38% of New Zealanders had NEVER worked from home while a further 36% worked at home every now and again, Then Lockdown When Lockdown began, 92% of respondents were fully working from home; only 18% of these people had any prior experience of working from home.” 

The use of artificial intelligence will be the next big move in working environments. Unlike earlier day’s current and future work environment will use a lot of technology to minimise the manual and repetitive tasks where humans can focus on more creative work. The way people engage will be different with the use of technology. A good example is currently, we use technology and do virtual meetings instead of meeting in person. People Leaders will have to engage with their team more virtually in the future than they did before. Some people leaders are ready for this change, but some are very fussy about virtual meetings. Adopting the changing technology is also a capability that future managers should have; providing awareness sessions will help minimise the issues that can arise from technology usage.

Handling the health and well-being of employees and the changing expectation will be another aspect of changing work environments.  Workplaces tend to focus more on employee well-being and support them to manage work-life balance. Helping employees go through their difficult times and getting them back to the workforce is vital to employee retention. Managers should be capable of being empathetic and looking at these issues more closely; supporting employees to have a clear mind will help them to perform well in their job.

Having more diverse workplaces will be expected in future, which means organisations will hire a workforce of employees of various backgrounds in terms of gender, religion, race, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, education, and other attributes. A diverse workforce means organisations have employees from a range of different backgrounds and better business outcomes. This diversity will change a whole lot of factors in organisations, from recruitment to retention. Having a more inclusive culture will help the organisation to thrive in the competitive business world. Diversity can provide many benefits to organisations by having diverse opinions, values, thoughts and ideas. People leaders have to have more inclusive approaches to have a more diverse workforce.

All these new ways of work are a challenge for the leaders, especially mid-age leaders who have come from a traditional management journey. Transactional, autocratic and Laissez-faire management styles have to change to more innovative and transformational management styles to thrive in the changing working environments. This ability to change will be a must-have skill for a future manager.

“In a 2021 Gartner survey of 4,787 global employees assessing the evolving role of management, only 47% of managers are prepared for this future role. The most effective managers of the future will be those who build fundamentally different relationships with their employees.”

Considering the above factors and a more diverse workforce with different expectations, a future manager needs to be more capable in the people management aspect to thrive in the new business world and manage their workforce productively. So as per my view, the future managers needs to be:

Coaches- It will not be like the olden days where managers were micromanaging their staff by monitoring all of their day-to-day functions. The future managers should be more likely to be coaches where they involve their team to go on a journey with them and show them and guide them on their work. The manager as a coach will support the employees for their development and will have clear expectations.

Trust their workforce – Future managers should build a trusting relationship with their employees. Trust will hugely depend on the mutual understanding between managers and employees. While organisations are moving forward with new ways of working, people leaders should manage their employees by learning how to trust them.

New ways of engagement– Managers should build new ways of employee engagement in changing work environments. There will be a lot of technological advancement, and your employee will not be working with you at the same time at the same place in the future. So as a successful manager, you should build a relationship with your employees no matter where they work and what time they work. Virtual catch-ups meetings and output based performance measures rather than day-to-day activities will be best to build a successful relationship with your team.

Empathy is a must-have trait of future managers. They should be capable of seeing employee issues and how they feel. Employees will have changing expectations with their work conditions. Especially flexible hours, child care, health and Well-being support / emotional support. I can see this as a skill that needs to be strengthened. Lead with empathy is not easy but not something that managers cannot do. Simply, future managers should learn to value and care for their human capital a lot more than they did before and connect and support to improve employees life experience and not just work-life.

Developing managerial skills and capabilities to adjust to the future changing work environment can be challenging; organisations should have an excellent supportive function in place to achieve this. The recruitment strategies should be changing to hire managers with these capabilities. For existing managers, training and workshops should be provided to have better conversations with their employees and manage employee expectations while achieving high work goals. All of these capabilities can be developed by having a sound awareness of how to handle challenges, how to make effective working relationships and have an open mind towards things. Organisations should consider the management workload and amount of reporting lines. The manageable direct report will allow managers to build a relationship with their employees and manage them well.

Tara Rathnayake | Do It Right Column – 8th Issue SriLankaNZ
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