10 Future Trends in Management

Making the leap from thinking of leadership as a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘need to have’.

Key Takeaway

A review of the key things leaders need to focus on, keeping in mind that good leaders are needed at all levels across an organisation.

Here are 10 significant trends that will impact nations, organisations and people over the next few years. Organisations will need to successfully adapt both what they do and how they do so in managing their response to these trends.

  1. The 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. While this may cause some restructuring, realignment as well as some job losses, it will enable organisations to get 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.


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  1. Demographics

In particular, in Europe and North America, in under 10 years, 25 percent or more of their 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.

Globalisation means that managers must operate on two levels; the global, to maximise efficiency and the local, to maximise customer service.

For example, in 2012, the over 45 customer group became over 40 percent 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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 their peers. This could be an increasingly strong factor in the customer’s decision to buy.

    Change without purpose causes staff to become confused, concerned and mentally exhausted.

  1. 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 the 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.

  1. 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 needs to ensure that enabling the delivery of the best customer service is a key factor in every team’s objectives – whether or not they actually directly service the customer base.

  1. Simplicity of process and structure

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. However, 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 unnecessarily 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.

  1. 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 percent greater than normal performance but the problem is that people can still perform well in their jobs without giving it. Therefore,  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 critical that organisations understand that is is the performance and engagement of people that determines the quality and efficiency of delivery to customers.

  1. 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.

  1. Leadership

Given the need to enhance the performance of people through engagement and the alignment of their effort onto key deliverables, 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 on making sure good leadership is a “need to have” that underpins every activity the organisation undertakes at any level.

Therefor, 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; and
  • use the skills of your older workers.

Remember, you need to have good leaders at all levels of your organisation. Everything depends on it.

Check out this 4 minute video where I shared about modern leadership.


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Headline image courtesy Ryan McGuire@gratisography.com

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