Managers of the future

Last week I gave a talk about managing technology at an Asian conference. After the talk, I had several conversations with managers of local technology companies, they all wanted to know what I thought were the most valuable skills the managers would need in the future.

I told them that since technology changes fast, every manager should need to read more about technology trends and focus on finding and hiring highly skilled people to keep up with changes. I said: “Most of you have been successful in your career, you worked hard and advanced to these top levels, but we are living in a time where the pace of technological innovations is occurring at such a rapid speed, no matter how much you know, you could not be an expert in new technical field. As high-level managers, your job is to manage the technical people and let them do the work. This means you should learn enough to guide them to perform and make sure that they are doing the right things. As managers, you should read more and keep an open mind to all the changes in the industry. You must know what is going on in the market so you can make the right decision and use technology as an advantage to bring more benefits to your company. ”

As the whole world is changing due to technological innovations, the skills of the managers must also evolve too, and you cannot rely solely on what you know and your past experience. Today managers are no longer someone who give the order but someone who guide and coach your employees to perform to their capacity. You need to know that getting skilled people is a competition among top companies. These people can find a job anywhere, at any time because there is a shortage of them, so you cannot treat them like in the past where they need a job. Today, you need them to do the work, to increase efficiency and performance of your company and your job is becoming more critical for the company’s success.

Today, many companies are beginning to re-organized into a “Flat organization” and reduce bureaucracy. It means there will be fewer levels of managers but more workers, so you will have more people to manage. However, with advanced technology and automation, you can stay in contact with all of them easily to gather information (i.e., Mobile phones, email, text messages, data analysis software, etc.) What this means for managers is that they will need to assess all situations quickly, and make decisions when something happens out of control immediately. The new business rules are “speed” and “execution,” the faster you can solve problems, the better. Therefore, managers cannot hide behind their desk or pretend to be busy by going to many meetings and give the order to someone. Managers of the future must have the skills to analyze the situations, determine options, and bring solutions to solve problems for the company quickly.

In this technology-driven world, things happen fast, and competition is fierce. All managers must learn to be flexible, keep an open mind, monitor all situations and act quickly in order to keep their job. If the company does not do well, it is the managers that lose the job, not the workers. Due to the shortage, it is hard to find skilled technical workers, but there is no shortage of managers, and every company owner knows that.


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University

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