When we talk about trends, we usually think about fashion, travel destinations, or healthy life choices. The latter seems to really have become popular, some advocating dietary restrictions (such as sugar, gluten, or dairy), some dwelling into more spiritual aspects, and promoting self-knowledge and mindfulness. So, when the serious business subject of ‘executives’ development’ comes up, it’s challenging to think of it in terms of trends.
Perhaps it has something to do with the word’s linguistic root – executives are supposed to execute. Thankfully, they only have to apply that course of action to the company vision and strategy, and generally, there are no collateral victims – lest we consider the competition.
While executive development is a very serious topic, trends are essential, as they offer a realistic picture of the most common practices while they are happening – not a few years after an in-depth study has been carried out, its results coddled by scrupulous academics.
HR and L&D specialists need to have the scoop in the present time, so here it is:
1. Investing in employees
The human capital has always been necessary, but it has now become paramount that organizations manage to attract and retain the right talented employees.
Companies are investing increasingly in the tools and knowledge that offer the professional and personal development needed to groom the next generation of leaders. This is especially important to the Millennials who value both being valued and personal growth.
Through continued personal and professional development, general employees, as well as executives can stay up to date on the latest business demands and technologies, while also continually growing in areas that are relevant either to the organization or themselves.
Companies have understood the importance of continuous education and have moved from regarding it as a necessary expenditure to recognizing it as a potentially lucrative investment.
Read more: On leadership development for Millennials
2. Minding (and mending) the generation gap
There has never before in history been such a generational diversity in the workplace. Traditionally there was a hierarchical scheme, keeping the younger employees on simple tasks for a long time before allowing them to earn a higher up place.
Today Millennials, Generation Z, Generation X, and Baby Boomers are co-existing in the workplace. The hierarchy has nothing to with age, as the technological developments have led to relatively young people being substantially savvier on some subjects than their more experienced peers.
As Baby Boomers are retiring in great numbers, the newer generations are quickly working their way up to top leadership positions. It is the job of HR to unite efforts with learning specialists and make sure they have both the right mindset and the necessary tools to take over and move the organization forward.
3. Employee engagement
This seems to be on everyone’s lips while talking about successful leadership. A critical factor in any organization’s success, engaged employees have turned out to be the Holy Grail of in-house surveys. If they are unhappy or dissatisfied, employees will have those feelings affect performance and, ultimately, the day-to-day business of a company.
There are some actions that HR specialists take to boost up engagement:
- Increased focus on employee wellbeing
- A boost in employee recognition programs
- Building strong cultures that encourage open communication
- A flattening of the hierarchy
- Moving from yearly performance evaluations to frequent one to one feedback
- Using people analytics to start up relevant conversations
Read more: The 4 Rs of creating a culture of engagement
4. Focusing on innovation
This is what companies are moving towards as they part with the customer-centric model that was the norm for the longest time. There is the popular image of the visionary executive who listens to any and all ideas from the people in the organization and outside it, continually searching for the one that will make all the difference. The new technologies (such as AI, for example) and the tremendous advance of the Internet of Things allow for unprecedented insights into customer beliefs and behaviors.
All this information lays the groundwork for relevant innovation in all aspects of business – from product design to complaint handling and client support. Business analysts can quite accurately forecast both calm and turbulent conditions, but it is up to the executives to act wisely (and bravely) to ensure continuous success.
As we move forward in the digital age, we see transformations in all aspects of life. The business world is most susceptible to change, and with that comes the need for executives who can see the big picture and be agile enough to make bold decisions when they are called for.
Raluca Cristescu is a Faculty of Letters graduate with over ten years of experience in corporate training, focused mainly on soft skills for customer service and direct sales.