Looking ahead to 2020

Is your team ready to take on the coming year’s challenges?

On Jan. 1 we are fortunate to have a fresh start — a new year without any mistakes! We are challenged with making new plans for our businesses and our personal lives. If you have accomplished the goals in your 2019 business plan, you likely also prepared your 2020 business plans. When making your plans for 2020 did you take a good strong look at the shifts in our society, or did you focus solely on changing your financial goals based on the business that was done in 2019?

The workforce is changing. According to the Pew Research Center, 2020 will feature the most age-diverse workplace. It will represent an unprecedented five generations working together. From traditionalists born prior to 1946, to members of Generation Z born after 1997, who began entering the workplace in 2015, leaders will be charged with meeting a wide range of expectations held by each generation. In order to succeed, it is important to keep an open mind and not only expect but embrace the changes you will need to make in your business to be truly inclusive and effective.

There are many things to keep in mind when developing the next generation of leaders for your company. Here are a few to consider:

  • Employee diversity: If you haven’t already started to diversify, now is the time. The accelerating increase in cultural diversity requires having a broader set of values, beliefs and understanding.
  • Workers inside and outside: Workers have become more mobile and project-based. Workers that are part of the gig economy are commonplace. On-site teams will form to tackle projects, however they will disband when the job is finished. Much work can and will be done anywhere, anytime.
  • Knowledge work and skills shortages: Three in four positions will demand higher entry-level qualifications as the demand for “knowledge workers” grows. Skills shortages will challenge growth and innovation, especially among STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) career workers.
  • Technology: One-third of all data will live in or pass through the cloud. Technology will connect employees, partners and prospective clients, making collaboration, transparency and communication vital for success. Information will need to flow faster in all directions. Robotics, machine learning and artificial intelligence will impact labor markets and the skills demanded of workers.
  • Sustainability: An organization’s life span will drop if they are not innovative. To survive, organizations must focus on being agile and demonstrate sustainable practices that are socially responsible.

In addition to the above cultural and business changes, future leaders will have to sustain core competencies, including:

  • Collaboration at all levels
  • An ability to develop people
  • Agile learning
  • Technical proficiency
  • A forward-thinking global mindset
  • Being a conscious leader
  • Always future-focused
  • Adaptive to change
  • An ability and commitment to drive positive company culture

What is your organization doing to prepare your current and future leaders, and how many of these competencies are being developed? Is your current team ready as it currently stands to take on the challenges that lie ahead, or is it time to redirect your business and change its destiny?

Leaders must become comfortable with chaos and uncertainty. The saying, “you cannot take anything for granted,” is absolutely true. We can all agree that someone somewhere is working on a new technology or system that has the potential of disrupting our business. Leaders must be forward-thinking, constantly working to stay ahead of the curve. With the right management in place, businesses will be better positioned to navigate the ever-changing marketplace while embracing what’s to come in 2020 and beyond.

Kelley Small is a principal with Standish Executive Search, a firm based in New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

Categories: Business Advice