You’ll have more control over your future if you stay at the cutting edge. Read all you can. Speak with others. Reflect. But be aware of emerging trends – such as these:
- Managers are likely to change their jobs several times during their careers.
- Technology will eliminate old jobs and create new ones.
- Computers and machines will become smarter – and people will need to do the same.
- Staff will have more flexible working arrangements.
- Companies will become ‘virtual’ through outsourcing, telecommuting, and staff working at home.
- Those who cannot adapt to new technologies will find themselves working harder and achieving less.
- Lifelong learning will be essential.
- People who learn skills quickly will be highly valued in a fast-changing world.
- Training will be delivered ‘on demand’, whenever people need it, using a variety of technologies.
- Organisations won’t pay for the value of the job but for the value of the person.
- Employees will be more independent, moving from project to project within their organisations.
- We will continue to work well beyond the traditional age of retirement.
2. Become familiar with technology – now.
The three-step recipe for employability in the coming decades of rapid change is this – 1. Prepare; 2. Prepare; 3. Prepare. The advance in technology in particular will be very dramatic. Indeed, unless we prepare ourselves by keeping up to date with technology – computers, the Internet, robotics, communications, etc. – we will ourselves become obsolete in the workplace.
3. Be prepared to be mobile.
In an increasingly global economy, supply and demand for managers will require that we adopt a mentality for mobility – a willingness to relocate as markets for our expertise shift. Be prepared for this – mentally, physically, and emotionally – for not only will such moves broaden your horizons, but in addition your expertise and experience will become more marketable.
4. Continue to develop your people skills.
Focus on the development of vital technology skills by all means, but not at the expense of people skills. Such skills will always be in demand. Learn to motivate staff, to deal with diverse groups, to get the most out of people, to communicate effectively, and so on.
5. Think globally.
The world will be shrunk by developments in transportation, technology, and communication. Worldwide mergermania will produce larger organisations employing fewer people. The global economy will become a reality. So think globally. Multiply your value to your employer by learning to understand cultural differences and etiquette. Become fluent in a foreign language or two – or at least embrace a few basics.
Permanent employment cannot be guaranteed in the future, so try not to become too dependent on corporate employers. Be prepared to become a free agent, for employment in the future may mean employing yourself. So start planning for that possibility. Develop skills, contacts, and experience that will enable you to become a consultant, a freelance technical expert, or an independent operator. Nurture your network; survival may depend on your connections – peers, mentors, promising newcomers, retirees, clients, and customers.
7. Build a reputation as one who embraces the future.
In coming decades, employers will be eager to find people who visibly prepare themselves for an exciting future and embrace change willingly and enthusiastically. Don’t be paralysed with fear or personal paranoia. Find ways to demonstrate your exuberance. Your attitude, more than your age, will determine your standing in the organisation. Remain marketable and employable as follows:
- Commit yourself to a program of lifelong learning.
- Develop a range of skills and competencies, for they will be valued more than depth of expertise in a single area.
- Demonstrate your versatility, which will become a key factor in determining employee value – with strategic planning, leadership, problem-solving, technology, and people skills close behind.
- Associate with winners and distance yourself from malcontents.
- Become active in trade and professional associations.
- Be visible – the more people know about you, the less likely that you’ll be lost in the shuffle or overlooked in times of transition.
- Develop your computer skills.
- Become known as a valuable team player, with strong problem-solving and decision-making skills.
- Make it happen – your future isn’t a matter of fate, circumstance, or good luck. It’s up to you. So start now!