In my 30+ years as a working adult, paying attention to many different businesses and all kinds of people, I’ve seen a whole lot of change. I have no empirical evidence of this, but I think we’ve gone through more change in the last 30 years than we did in the previous 50 (and the next 10 will be even more). I also tend to see 2 different responses from managers to these changes - Adjust and Status Quo.
Many managers adjust to the situation. Some go through minor adjustments and other through major ones. I see these managers as those that listen to the customer (who is sometimes the employee) and figuring out how to best provide them what they want with what they have. Sometimes that change is hard, because the fit isn’t good, but the change has to occur.
I put myself in this category, but with a need to adjust even more than I already have. When I started, the manager was the expert. They were someone who did what you did in the past and had more experience and knowledge than you. They set the rules and you followed them because they knew your role better than you did. If you were lucky, you had a good manager who taught you well and positioned you to grow and become their peer.
As I look back, even some of those things were wrong. The idea of a young employee having to work 60 hours to “prove” they were valuable and hard working was silly. All it proved was that we were willing to have no life outside of work - something that we now know was emotionally and physically unhealthy. So I’ve adjusted more. I used to tell young people to work hard to get rewarded. Now I tell them that they should work hard, but put themselves first. The company will not be loyal so they shouldn’t work thinking they will ever get that loyalty.
The second type is the status quo manager. These are the people who see the changes, but simply complain about them and try to wait them out. They know they can’t force the young employee to work 60 hours for little money just to ‘build their career’. So they complain that kids don’t want to work hard anymore and that it is hard to find good help. They make small adjustments like raising wages, but do so with so much disdain that they act like it is a gift or something they are forced to do.
If you work for or interview with one of those status quo managers - run. If at this point they haven’t realized that things have changed so much that they won’t change back, you’ll never grow with them.
This is why I do what I do. The role of the manager has changed dramatically - for the better. I want managers who care about employees as people first and as someone to get things done second. I want managers who see it as their role to guide and support, not order and dominate.
Every manager needs to ask themselves - are they status quo or adjust? If they adjust, have they adjusted enough?