A Modern Manager for a New Decade

A few things to think about doing differently, so you can ensure your management style progresses at the same speed as your team’s way of thinking.

Hey, modern manager! Yes! I’m talking to you. It’s 2020, and as a new decade begins, we have to revisit the way we engage our team members. I’m not saying that how we have been managing our teams has been incorrect. It has worked. And it gotten us this far after all, but staying in the past has never served us well.

As we race swiftly into the future, we have savvy team members at our side. The Internet provides them with access to knowledge like never before; they are more exposed to the ways of the world; and they have higher expectations about how to be treated fairly. They have a voice and are not afraid to use it. Keeping all of those things in mind, we need to adapt and become modern managers to tackle the challenges of an independently thinking workforce.

Here are a few things to think about doing differently, so you can ensure your management style progresses at the same speed as your team’s way of thinking.

  1. Talk to your team members about their expectations. We can come up with all of the training plans we want to, but if they are not in line with what your team members are willing to execute, well, you are out of luck. Make sure your needs and the expectations of your team members are in synch. At the very least, you both have to be heading in the same direction. Many managers are trying to encourage team members to act in a particular manner when it is just not in their capacity to do. Maybe they don’t have the exposure to thinking in a certain way, or perhaps they don’t care the same way, i.e., what’s really in it for them?! Have a conversation and ensure  everyone is on the same page.
  2. Ask your team members how they would like to learn. “They should do as I tell them to do. If they don’t like it, then they can get a new job.” Hmmm, welcome to 2020, people. That approach doesn’t work anymore. Sink or swim isn’t the way anymore, and an aggressive attitude verges on bullying behavior. Modern managers are concerned with how their team members are learning. That means making a success plan for each person and being aware of how he or she processes new ideas. Do they need some hand-holding? Do you have to let them learn on their own? Will they take shortcuts and need reinforcement of lessons? It’s up to you to work your team members to give them 100 percent chance of succeeding.
  3. Don’t be an a@@…I mean burro…who’s kidding who—I mean a@@! Recently, a senior consultant told me a story about working at one of my clients who advised the female manager that she should dress for her role, meaning, she should fulfill the stereotypical gender role of a powerful female and wear heels. Ugh! Really? The power of a person doesn’t have anything to do with his or her shoes. That sort of privileged white-male gender-centric commentary nonsense is no longer relevant in today’s workplace. It is not acceptable. Thank goodness! At this point, we are way beyond that. If you still have stereotypes from your old way of thinking, get rid of them. Move forward into this decade and treat people with respect and fairness. Your team members won’t tolerate your mistakes in these areas nor accept your “Back in my day…” comments. Get over yourself!
  4. Determine their time limit. We recently moved many of our training sessions from the standard four hours to one, two, and three hours. We also have broken our e-learning modules into 10-minute segments. Why? Because not everyone is going to tough it out and stay tuned in for that amount of time. YouTube clips are 5 to 10 minutes. TV shows are 30 minutes (with commercials), and movies are two hours, and that is when you have popcorn and a cuddle partner. Modern managers will be concerned with their team members’ limits and organize accordingly. Is a four-hour training too much? Is sitting them down in front of a computer for three hours of e-learning unbearable? Adjust. Find their sweet spot. They will retain more information that way. 
  5. Use technology to your advantage. Trying to force your team to put away their smartphones and not use them during the workday? Good luck. It is not going to happen. Welcome again to this decade. Instead of fighting an uphill battle, why not use the technology to your advantage? If they like texting, add a customer texting feature. Are they spending too much time on Facebook and Instagram? Encourage them to promote your business and find ways to create dynamic content. Don’t be afraid of technology—it’s everywhere. Do you think restricting the phone will help you? Not really—they all have smartwatches now.
  6. Make it fun! This part hasn’t changed much, but even more so today, fun is a necessity! With the visual overload and access to information that modern team members have, any task, training, or activity needs to have an element of fun. Otherwise, they are going to get bored.

Whatever you do as a modern manager, you have to listen to your team members. They can provide you with a lot of insight into how the contemporary team member will think, act, and feel.

Kevin James Saunders is a trainer for Oculus Training, a training and mystery shopping company offering sensitivity, sales, and customer service training programs around the world. For more information, call 888.OCULUS4 or visit www.oculustraining.com. You also can connect with Oculus on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram @oculustraining or reach out via e-mail at peoplecare@oculustraining.com.