All of us know that managers need a combination of hard skills and soft skills to win in the marketplace. How is 2023 different?
Yes, we have a different kettle of fish.
We have come out of a pandemic that reminded us to be more human than ever before and value the contribution one can make in someone’s life. People have learned the value of working together to unleash the potential of collaborative working. Does the company promote this? Are managers comfortable showing their emotional side alongside the objective and task-oriented side? How do they deal with the combination of rational and emotional sides of their colleagues? Are managers ready to collaborate and work in an environment that is less structured and more flexible yet result-oriented?
Secondly, powered by the gradual shift in our socio-economic conditions, there are changes in the behaviours of the employees in the workforce. Now employees want a certain part of their day carved out as private time; they want feedback to be specific and quick; they seek to understand why they have to do what they are asked to do. They do not take kindly to situations when the company’s beliefs and norms are not to their liking. How do companies recognise this reality in their systems and processes? How do managers deal with this situation? For example, managers may not be comfortable allowing their younger colleagues the freedom and independence they seek; find it hard to accept that the young folks need private time which they did not find when they were younger. Managers do not have the skills of offering quick feedback, positive or negative. Many of them believe in developing their team members by criticising the work done by them; they do not see the need of appreciating good work. And many such challenges galore!
Thirdly, the environment around us has been changing rapidly. Science and technology, the legal environment and more such changes have been impacting the modus operandi in organisations. Managers are required to be agile and adapt to the developments in the environment quickly. Apart from the soft skill of adaptability, we need them to develop a good level of understanding and appreciation of the technical skills so that they can identify the opportunities to make changes and lead the change management programmes effectively.
Essentially, we are talking about a combination of hard skills and soft skills. Let’s call them power skills.
The Power skills needed:
Every industry sector and job role has its unique requirements for skills and expertise. The subject matter expertise needed is much beyond the experience of having done the job hands-on in the past. Managers are expected to be able to connect the dots and envision various possibilities. As technology is evolving, some industry sectors lead the adoption and learn through the process. Every manager needs to understand and absorb these learnings to discover various possibilities in his or her domain of responsibility.
Communication has always been important for anyone in a managerial role. The tenors of communication keep evolving as the context changes. in 2023, for communication to stick, it has to be an honest and sensitive appraisal of the performance periodically and frequently. Over time, the frequency of performance feedback has started rising and a good balance between appreciation and opportunities for improvement has become more essential than ever before. The importance of sensitivity has never been as important as it is today. We have noticed employees getting impacted negatively and damaging their mental health when their manager delivers negative feedback or criticism in a way that shakes them up. This style of appraisal does not create value for an enterprise. Hence, in 2023, this is one of the important power skills.
Agility, willingness to change and driving the change hands-on, is another dimension of the modern manager’s capability. This is significant because changes have been taking place at a rapid pace. For example, organisations have been making changes to their remote working policies over the last two years and are still unsure. Given this backdrop, a manager has to continuously evolve one’s style.
Innovation and creative thinking are something that has always been useful. However, given the volatile situations we encounter every day in our lives, businesses have been changing fast as well. The possibilities that ChatGPT seems to suggest are just an example. Managers have to seek creative solutions to the problems at hand.
Finally, the way a manager makes decisions, engages with the stakeholders and negotiates with them makes him or her a great manager in the current times. All of us have been told several times in our lives that decisions which appear to be win-win are the best way forward. However, it is not practised very regularly. Given the current times, managers have to develop the power skill to build a genuine understanding of the counterpart, develop a rapport that is based on honesty, trust and mutual respect and focus on a partnership that lasts long.
Human capabilities are way more than we imagine.
Human beings embody limitless possibilities. We have to remain watchful of our environment and evolve. 2023 is the time when all of us are witnessing changes, quickly adapting to them and driving changes ourselves. As long as we are dynamic and agile, believe in the human spirit and pursue excellence, we shall evolve ourselves into acquiring the power skills needed and win in the marketplace.