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New Work Smarts 2 of 3

Posted by
Rebecca Livesey

Jan Owen AM – CEO Foundations for Young Australians, recently delivered a fascinating talk about what work will look like in 2030 and how we need to equip people with the skills to thrive in this environment. I also believe that we need to make sure leaders are equipped to deal with this, so this series of articles starts to address that. You can read the first article here.

One of the findings in the report shows that as ‘technology reduces the need for workers to complete routine, manual tasks they will spend more time focusing on people, solving more strategic problems and thinking creatively.’

I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone that technology will reduce the need for jobs that do routine tasks, however the shift to other types of work is important to note. The report highlights we will need to focus on 3 areas – smart learning, smart thinking and smart doing.

Smart Learning:

We will be spending 30% more time learning on the job, which means as leaders we have to build capability in how we communicate so we train effectively, and also become life long learners ourselves. If we can’t model learning on the job, and be comfortable with not knowing all the answers then how can we expect our people to do so. With a focus on learning, as leaders we also have to be able to work with our people to explore and coach, rather than teach, because we are likely in many cases to be learning together!

Smart Thinking:

We will be spending double our time at work solving problems, 41% more time using critical thinking and judgement, 77% more time using science and maths, and 17% more time on verbal communication and interpersonal skills. Looking at this, a more collaborative and creative approach to solving complex problems will be the norm, balancing both the masculine and feminine, meaning leaders will become facilitators helping their teams to get an outcome together with less focus on how individuals stand out. As complexity in our world increases, more than ever the answers will be created together, rather than the domain of one expert.

Smart Doing:

We will need employees to develop an entrepreneurial mindset due to having less management time (down 26 per cent), less organisational coordination (down 16 per cent) and less teaching (down 10 per cent), due to more flexible work through digital work platforms. This means as leaders there’s a big difference in how work gets delegated and coordinated. Our ability to clearly communicate expectations, work with others to coordinate, and trust that our people are doing the right thing (and have the hard conversations when they don’t!) is going to be critical. We will not be able to judge performance on ‘desk time’, we have to shift to outcomes and behaviours which means we have to up our leadership game.

Jan’s goal is to prepare young people for the changes through ensuring our education systems keep up and through FYA is calling for a renewed, comprehensive and inter-generational investment in Australia’s young people. You can read the full report here.

But I also think it’s extremely important that we educate leaders and businesses too, as we are going to have to change the way we lead if we want anyone to thrive in this new environment.

And we can start that journey now. If your culture still rewards ‘desk time’ rather than outcomes, work out what you need to do to shift this, and how you lead by example. If your team don’t know how to have the hard conversations when someone doesn’t deliver, get them training so they get used to it now. If you team drops the ball because of poor interdepartmental communication, work out what structures and behaviours you need to put in place to improve this.

And let’s remember – we are creating this world right now. We who are in business and leadership at the moment. It’s not as if it’s just happening to us by accident. We need to make sure we are developing, investing in and honouring a leadership skillset that can keep up.

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