Are your managers ready for the “perfect storm”?

One of Asia’s leading training and development experts talks about the future of business and how to help leaders and managers get ready for the coming challenges

Are your managers ready for the “perfect storm”?
HR, learning, and business leaders should expect some seriously dramatic business changes over the next ten years, Jeremy Blain, regional managing director of Cegos Asia Pacific, told HRD.
“They’re going to see a much bigger shift than they think because there’s a perfect storm of things coming together,” he said.
As well as Generation Z entering the workplace and the ageing populations of Asia, the rise of technology and digitisation is disrupting work and learning – effectively changing the work landscape of the future.
The automation of jobs, diversity & bias, and an increasingly globalised and cross-cultural world will pose great difficulties for business, Blain said.
“Probably the most important point within this perfect storm is: are our leaders and managers prepared? Are we preparing them with the different knowledge, skills and behaviour to manage and lead in an environment where they need to tackle these types of macro-factors?”
Blain discussed a recent survey run by Cegos on the “Five key drivers for change for the 2020s workplace”. These were: 
  • The impact of technology
  • The challenges of a cross-generational workforce
  • Increasing diversity
  • The future of work infrastructure
  • Leader/Manager readiness
The survey polled almost 1,500 senior level business, HR and learning leaders – 70% from the Asia-Pacific, 18% from Europe and 12% from the US.
Results showed the two most important drivers were the impact of technology and the readiness of managers and leaders within organisations.
“Our companies aren’t getting to grips with digitising our work, our learning, and our people to the extent that we know we need to,” he said. “And our managers and our leaders aren’t ready.”
At a recent event, 2020 Learning Future, held by Cegos at the AXA University last Thursday (10 March), Blain said 80% of attendees said their managers and leaders were unprepared for future changes.
“This is the thing that’s going to define success or failure across any of these five key drivers because they’re the ones that are going to need to own it,” he warned.
One key takeaway from both survey and event was that future leaders within Generation X remained unconfident of their abilities as future leaders.
“They don’t really know and aren’t aware of the new knowledge, skills and behaviours that they’re really going to need because organisations aren’t largely focusing on that.”
For management, Blain said the trend for Millennials and Generation Y to be called the “me” generation was partly sensationalism.
“There are still great examples of Millennial performance contribution, leader management, etc,” he said. “However, there is still a concern around it.”
The big question is whether this generation can be taught about managing others and caring for others as much as the media says they care for themselves, he added.
When preparing future leaders and managers for the challenges of the future, Blain suggested focusing on essential knowledge, skills and behaviours that organisations are not currently providing training in.
“I’m thinking about collaborative tools and technologies; how to utilise social media and collaborative platforms or online communities; how to effectively remote manage teams in different cultures and generations; and the additional cross-cultural elements of awareness of diversity and bias that could come up.”
Organisations generally don’t focus on these aspects because of budget cuts during the Global Financial Crisis, he said.
“We forgot to train our managers – the new managers that we promoted – and we still haven’t got the basics right. We’ve got to do that quickly, and then we’ve got to prepare for the future.”
Related stories:
Drag and drop: The employee of the future
Women in the workplace: What does the future hold?
Three critical skills needed to survive HR disruption

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