2 Things Leaders Need To Focus On For 2023

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Written by dzshabab

Looking at the decisions you’ll make in the coming year, you’ll face both the “known” and the “unknown.” I study the demographic and technological trends that are shaping our working lives. Many of these trends are leading to “known” developments that you can start thinking about now.

For example, demographic trends are predictable (at least in the short term). In all industrialized countries, many people will live longer (100-year life expectancy may become a reality for more and more people) and generally have fewer children.

The predictable result is an aging population – and in some countries both rapid aging and shrinkage. Look at Japan, where the average age is now 48. Another country is China, whereby 2030 the average age will be 47, and 26% of the population will be over 60. In the US, the average age is currently 38, and by 2030 it will be 40.

So as you look to the future, there are two things to consider.

First, your older employees may be crucial to you. “Uncertainties” on the horizon this year include recession and inflation. Older workers remember the Great Recession of 2008, a time of strikes, unrest and mass unemployment. We can only hope that the economic tools now used by central banks and governments are more sophisticated. But we can’t be sure. These adults have crystal clear intelligence, wisdom and insight because they lived through these events. If you include them in the conversation, they can play a key role in dealing with these unpredictable events.

Second, when thinking about age groups in your organization, don’t be fooled by generalized and biased descriptions of generations (such as snowflake Millennials, digital natives of Generation Z or sophisticated Baby Boomers). While these descriptions are popular in marketing and branding, they have very limited validity and are often just stereotypes. They implicitly assume that everyone within a generation has the same hopes and aspirations, and that generations are very different from one another.

It turns out that within a generation there is both more diversity and more of what different generations have in common. Regardless of age, when we were growing up we all had to find our identity, struggled to find a partner, worried about the world we grew up in, wanted the best for our children and hoped for positive change. These are the life events that bring us together.

As you think about how to make the most of your intergenerational experience, ask yourself the following six questions:

  • Revise the way you describe people over 50. Are you using old-fashioned stereotypes about who they are and what they can contribute?
  • Some people in their 50s have crystal wisdom. Do you have such wise elders in your organization
  • Intergenerational teams tend to perform better than single-generation teams. Are you consciously using age as a tool to build high-performing teams?
  • Have you considered creating a coaching partnership between older and younger employees?
  • Could reverse mentoring work in your case? It is very important for young people to mentor older people.
  • Do you create flexible work practices (both in terms of time and place) that allow all employees – regardless of age – to give their best?

When it comes to technology, we know that advances in robotics and machine learning will fundamentally change the relationship between humans and machines in the long run. We have not always understood this relationship.

For example, a decade ago, people thought that these technologies would destroy jobs. However, we have learned that technologies do not destroy jobs, they change them. Technologies (whether AI or robots) replace simple, repetitive tasks and create augmentation (humans and machines working together) for more complex tasks.

As a result of this replacement and augmentation, we humans often have to train in more human-like skills, such as empathy or listening (which machines can’t do). Or we have to master entirely new (often digital) skills. So this year, be prepared to support your employees in these skill shifts.

As you think about the impact of technology at work in the coming year, ask yourself these five questions:

  • Research the most important tasks in your business. Do you know which tasks will be automated in the next three years?
  • Have you communicated these ways of automation to those affected? If people know these ways, they are more likely to use their personal agency and motivation to adapt.
  • What are the adjacent skills for the jobs in question? These critical boundary skills that connect current jobs to future jobs.
  • Knows the occupations that best prepare people for the future, called gas pedals? These occupations have a high human skills content.
  • Can you do more to promote education and training by developing skills such as empathy and listening
  • Can your senior employees take on a mentoring role here?

This is the year to bring the generations together to support each other, invest in training and push for more flexible ways of working. This is a year to encourage a healthy and engaged workforce, and to develop organizational practices that give people the autonomy they need to make the most of the coming year.

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