2020 Workforce news roundup

Debunking the myth that jerk bosses get results (FastCompany): Bosses like Steve Jobs and Gordon Ramsey earned notoriety for their harsh treatment of employees—and plaudits for getting results. This article argues that such leaders are successful in spite of, not because of, their attitudes.

The skills leaders need at every level (Harvard Business Review): When HBR asked 332,860 bosses, peers, and subordinates what skills are most important to a leader’s success, the top qualities were very consistent, suggesting that the core competencies required of leaders do not change as they move up the corporate ladder. Developing those traits throughout your career, and always preparing for the skills you’ll need at the next level, may be a key to success.

Employees using social media before making any career move (The Economic Times): A new Kelly Services report says that employees are increasingly using social media to learn specifics about companies, including workplace conditions and reputation, before putting in applications.

Millennials at Work: Young and Callow, Like Their Parents (The New York Times): Many think that Millennials are unprepared, lazy, and difficult to manage—but that doesn’t make them any different from the generations that preceded them.


Envy in the workplace

Though envy is a common emotion—especially as social media magnifies the successes and failures of our peers—it is rarely acknowledged in the workplace. How does our tendency to compare ourselves to others affect us at work? What contributes to these feelings, and what are the effects?  A recent article from Knowledge@Wharton looks into these questions and more.

According to Shimul Melwani, a professor at UNC’s Kenan Flagler Business School, “Envy is rife in the workplace because a large number of people work on teams with peers who are like us, but who are also competing with us for scarce resources…There are so many different dimensions on which we compare ourselves to others.”

Feelings of envy can be destructive, potentially leading employees to undermine each other or hindering effective collaboration. On the flip side, envy can be a tool for improving performance, motivating employees to match the success of their peers. Researchers suggest that management acknowledge the tendency to feel jealous of peers, and neutralize them by minimizing iniquities among team members and setting collective goals for the group—and, of course, recognizing that some competition can be a good thing. Unfortunately, our surveys suggest that such finely-tuned leadership skills may be beyond the grasp of many companies.

Regular communication fosters employee development, satisfaction, loyalty

Leadership and management are hot topics in the news as companies realize that talent is a strategic asset.

We’ve been talking on this blog about the preliminary results of our huge global survey—one of which is the lackluster leadership at many of the companies we surveyed. This recent article by Monique Valcour on the Harvard Business Review blog argues that great management requires a thorough understanding of what drives each member of the team—which includes regular, timely communication around development .

Our 2020 Workforce research points to a similar conclusion. Communication is essential to employee satisfaction and training—regular feedback and conversations around development not only close communication gaps between employees and executives, but also engender loyalty to the business.

According to Valcour, coaching employees will “build stronger bonds between you and your team members, support them in taking ownership over their own learning, and help them develop the skills they need to perform and their peak.” Beyond the benefits for the business and its employees, Valcour notes that the benefits of coaching extend to managers, who are likely to be more satisfied with and energized by the management process.

Companies may not have the leaders they need for future growth

Preliminary results from our global 2020 Workforce survey show lackluster leadership at many companies. Executives cite a lack of adequate leadership as a major impediment to building a workforce to meet future business objectives, and only about half say leadership at their company has the skills to effectively manage talent.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, employees agree that leaders have much room for improvement. Fewer than half of employee respondents say leadership is equipped to lead the company to success, and many do not believe their leaders can lead a global, diverse workforce.

The workforce of the future will be increasingly diverse, mobile, multi-cultural, and multi-generational. To succeed, companies will have to cultivate leadership to effectively manage—and reap the full benefits of—these changes.

Gaps in leadership capabilities could impede further growth

Preliminary analysis of our 2020 Workforce surveys shows that leadership is ill-equipped to deal with tomorrow’s—and even today’s—workforce issues.

Just about half of executives say that their leaders are prepared to effectively manage talent, and even fewer say their leaders are prepared to lead a global workforce.  Employees agree that leadership is lackluster—less than half say leadership is equipped to lead the company to success. Furthermore, employees do not believe that management values leadership ability in employees, meaning companies may not be developing future leaders within their organizations.

Executives and employee responses suggest a worrying lack of qualified leaders—but to be successful in the new multi-generation and -cultural workplaces, companies will have to equip leadership with the skills to lead global and diverse workforces.

Recruitment policies hurting business in Hong Kong?

Business increasingly relies on globally aware and culturally sensitive leaders with a broad understanding of the business and markets in which they operate.

In a strongly worded opinion article from the South China Morning Post, financial writer and former banker Peter Guy argues that policymakers in Hong Kong are too Hong Kong-centric, resulting in a narrow approach to decision-making and recruitment that has led to stagnation in the city’s businesses and government.

The tone and importance of recruitment is set by leadership, the board or the owner. Cultivating talent starts at the top.

To achieve competitive advantage, Guy writes, Hong Kong must “push the boundaries of talent” to drive innovation in business, education, and government.