There are a number of significant trends that will inevitably impact upon nations, organisations and people over the next few years. Management will need to adapt both the content of what they do and the style in which they do it to these trends.
Economic environment – the recent economic environment has forced many governments and organisations to take significant steps to cut costs and review delivery chains to maximise efficiency. This will have caused restructuring and realigning together with some job losses but it will leave organisations leaner with the potential for higher profit margins in the future. Management must continue to look for efficient delivery systems and resist the temptation to “add fat” when the economic situation improves.
Demographics – In particular in Europe and North America in under 10 years 25% or more of workforce will be over 50. Research shows their skills are as good if not better than younger workers. But this change also applies to customers. In 2012 the over 45 customer group becomes over 40% larger than the 20 – 45 group. Your customer facing staff must reflect this. This group will also have the most money to spend as the peak of household income is likely to occur between 55 and 74. Management needs to keep older staff and leverage their skills and intellectual capital better.
Globalisation – globalisation will continue. People will be more mobile. The drive to leverage economies of scale demand that a centralised approach is taken with core services. Globalisation means that managers must operate on two levels; the global, to maximise efficiency and the local, to maximise customer service. The global “strategic overview” allows management to leverage the whole organisation in addition to their own part. It is key to the development good customer service, effective operation and growing global leaders.
Social responsibility and green issues – the pressure on organisations from both internal and external stakeholders will force management to ensure that social responsibility and green issues are increasingly factored into almost every decision. Increasingly organisations will be expected to demonstrate their credentials in this area and be transparent so that they can be compared to the peers. This could be an increasingly strong factor in the customers decision to buy.
Change as a way of work – the pace of change is likely to increase still further and the volume of information which has to be assimilated by both organisations and individuals will rise. In the future management must be able to quickly separate critical information for decision making from irrelevant and spurious. Otherwise it could lead to information overload resulting in slower or incorrect decision making or for individuals increasing problems with stress. Management must align ongoing change to a clear vision of the future. Change without purpose causes staff to become confused, concerned and mentally exhausted.
Customer focus - with increasing access to information customers are able to quickly compare a larger number of potential providers over a much wider geographical area. Thus organisations must deliver the best products and service in the market to attract and retain customers. Management have to ensure that enabling the delivery of the best customer service is a key factor in every teams objectives whether or not they actually directly service the customer base.
Simplicity of process and structure – within many organisations increasingly complex structures and systems have often led to an inability to respond quickly to the needs of local markets or changes in circumstances. In organisations people like having expert knowledge that demonstrates their value but this often leads to things becoming more complicated than they need to be and causes communication issues between functions. New management levels or posts are often un- necessarily introduced. Management must ensure that process, structure and communication is kept simple and focused to maximise effectiveness. Communication across boundaries is vital to effective delivery.
Performance and engagement – in order to deliver the best possible outcomes using available resources it is essential to maximise the performance of people. This depends on the ability of the leaders to get discretionary effort. This is the effort that people give when they are fully engaged. It can be up to 30% greater than normal performance but the problem is that people can still perform well in their jobs without giving it. So management has to ensure that leaders on every level are developed to encourage this extra effort. This is often neglected in management development. It is the performance and engagement of people that determines the quality and efficiency of delivery to customers.
Alignment - one of the issues that is consistently missed by those other than the best organisations is the alignment of effort onto key deliverables. This links back to the effort delivered by good engagement which, in most organisations, is spread across a large number of possible outcomes that diffuses the impact. In organisations where the effort is aligned to a small number of key deliverables the benefits are significant.
Leadership – given the need to enhance the performance of people through engagement and the alignment of their effort onto key deliverables then the key to success is great leadership. It is only through leaders being able to inspire, develop and align the effort of their teams that organisations succeed. This not only applies to those at the top of but to those at all levels in organisations responsible for the performance of people. Leadership is often though of as a “nice to have” which is linked to HR. It is not. Management must focus in on making sure good leadership is a “need to have” that underpins every activity the organisation undertakes at any level.
Thus in the future management needs to focus on the following :
- Get your organisation lean
- Think global and deliver local
- Social responsibility and green issues are need to haves not nice to haves now.
- Change must have a clear purpose
- Keep structure, processes, communication and delivery simple
- All actions must benefit the customer
- Engage your people to maximise their performance and align it onto key deliverables.
- Use the skills of your older workers
- You must have good leaders at all levels – everything else depends on that.
Good luck on your journey !