Dr Kohl: The Future of People Management: Part 2
Dr. Dave Kohl
grain falling into a container

Dave Kohl

In the last column, I discussed the future of people management with a focus on the youthful workforce. Job retention issues, along with the costs associated with employee turnover, were highlighted. We considered the varying opinions on employee control and organizational structure. We also began to contrast and compare the desires of the new generation of workers. Now, let’s complete our discussion with some new perspectives.

The old school generation views people management as managing people. The new generation desires to be mentored more by senior staff. It’s very important to remember that the mentor can learn just as much from the mentee as the mentee learns from his or her mentor, which results in a truly productive relationship. This is known as 360-degree learning and engagement. One mentor in a lending organization said he learned a great deal from his mentee and the relationship added vigor and energy to his job.

Over the past decade, collaboration has been the theme in the workplace. Open office spaces and building designs were a sign of the times. The younger generation values these attributes, but also desires private space and time away from the noise and clutter.

Career paths, while still important, are an old school standby. The younger generation desires projects which have specific parameters and timelines for completion. These projects can provide stimulus, motivation, and knowledge.

Working from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the famous hall monitors of the organization are “old school.” Yes, a certain set of workers will always be required to work strict hours. However, flexible hours are becoming more of a trend. It’s not about putting in time, it’s about productivity and flexibility for the future generation of multitaskers.

As managers, people management is less about telling someone how to do it and more about problem solving and thinking through processes with coaching, mentoring, and facilitation.

I challenge academics, such as myself, to provide learning in bite-sized chunks that can be customized and personalized. Internships and the occasional sabbatical to enhance training opportunities, personal development, and life skills will be the norm of the future.

As fall sets in, hopefully these articles can lead to valuable discussion in your organization or at holiday festivities. While you might agree on some or many topics, I hope these articles will help you think more critically about managing people.

Dr. Kohl is Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Finance and Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Dr. Kohl has traveled over 8 million miles throughout his professional career and has conducted more than 6,000 workshops and seminars for agricultural groups such as bankers, Farm Credit, FSA, and regulators, as well as producer and agribusiness groups. He has published four books and over 1,300 articles on financial and business-related topics in journals, extension, and other popular publications.

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