Management has changed radically in my lifetime. The future promises much of the same--an evolving landscape with many perils for those who fail to keep up with what society considers acceptable.
Back when I started, as I have mentioned many times, the senior leadership came from the era of World War II. They took no prisoners; they accepted no nonsense. They were blunt, often vulgar and, by today's standards, woefully politically incorrect. Plant one of the managers of that era into today's business and they would garner several labor lawsuits before lunch.
An example from that era still exists and is very public: President Trump. As a wealthy person operating his own businesses, he has obviously never had to attend the myriad seminars the rest of us have been required to attend to manage in the modern era. He is raw, impulsive and says what he thinks--no filters. He reminds me so clearly of the managers I worked under in the early 1970's. (Please, do not bother to send me any of your political comments on the man; I am merely focusing on the human interaction piece, not his policies). He is exactly what I worked for in those early years.
Today's managers have been exposed to a mountain of industrial psychology and learned to moderate their views, managing with persuasion, not brute force. This will continue to be refined as we go forward.
Today, we study people's emotional quotients to glean what is behind the words and actions of our subordinates, for we have finally realized what people say and do is merely the veneer on the surface. Yes, just like you, everyone who works for you has those unfiltered private thoughts that are their real selves, the ones they think they have bottled up inside and never let out.
Thus, this industrial psychology in its many forms is a two-edged sword--while admonishing the manager to behave in socially acceptable fashions, it aids the manager in "peeling the onion," revealing the true motivations of a subordinate.
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Despite the changes over the decades, what is prevalent in those new to the working world, however, is still the naiveté of what brings value to the employer. I am not talking about the ability to do complex calculations or understand complicated technical processes, I am talking about the skills needed to recognize what needs to be done and how to motivate others to do it in order to cause the organism which employees are a part of to grow and maintain sustainability. These leadership skills remain elusive, and still seem to be more natural than acquired through training or leadership exercises.
Hence, such natural leadership skills will continue to be prized and rewarded for they are, again, so elusive and often out of reach.
This leads me to shift gears for a minute as we wrap up this month's topic of management. Much has been said, some of it by me, about the apparent overall cluelessness of the "millennials" (really, any young people) entering the workforce. Young folks, take heart, for I think you are no different from us when we were entering the workforce. We didn't know up from down, right from left. Neither do you. You have not figured out that it is important that your employer's business be sustainable (meaning they can reliably spin their invoice printer far into the future) any more than we had figured it out. Particularly if you work for a large organization, you are likely to think they are just on automatic, and you don't make much difference. What you will notice soon, however, is that there are those among your peers who will start to move to the head of the class, so to speak, for they have resolved that they will make a difference.
You'll get your bearings, some will become specialists, some will become leaders and some will drop out. This winnowing of the chaff from the wheat will happen to your generation, just as it did in ours. You'll just have more tools to work with, in terms of interpersonal skills, than we ever did.
For safety this week, we note that safety crosses generational boundaries. If you want to live to be in the older generation, you must behave safely now! Everyone must help everyone else act in a safe manner.
Be safe and we will talk next week.