Nowadays, many 21st-century managers face such challenges associated with the interaction with employees as diversity, increased collaboration, and the impact of technologies. According to Molinsky, Davenport, Iyer, and Davidson (2012), there are three specific skills that managers need to learn to address these challenges. The purpose of this paper is to summarize the key ideas that are presented by the authors regarding the discussed issue.
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The first skill that should be developed by managers is the ability to switch codes between cultures while working with diverse employees. According to one of the authors of the article, those managers who have to work with foreign colleagues can lack the developed skill in cultural code-switching associated with changing behavior depending on employees’ cultural norms. If managers lack this skill, they can feel uncomfortable, incompetent, and inauthentic.
To cope with this barrier, managers need to identify specific challenges they have about this problem, adapt their behavior, and appreciate the role of code-switching in cooperating with diverse colleagues (Molinsky et al., 2012). Thus, to develop as an effective global leader, a manager needs to address situations that they describe as risky for their identity and competence and evolve skills in cultural code-switching.
The second skill described in the article is the capacity to utilize digital resources and online networks. According to two other authors contributing to the article, today managers know how to use online tools to expand their contact bases, but they lack knowledge of developing collaborative workplaces using these resources. Managers need to build their strong reputations in the context of online networks to attract and influence more people. The reason is that strong networks contribute to receiving immediate feedback and notice from all individuals involved in them (Molinsky et al., 2012). These networks can be applied for testing strategies and conducting surveys. In the future, employees with high influence on their online followers will be potentially preferred.
The third key skill discussed in the article is the ability to intentionally divide attention while working. The authors recommend not to avoid distraction but to utilize people’s inclination to procrastinate or multitask. On the one hand, managers should eliminate distractions for employees caused by using technologies. However, on the other hand, people tend to be distracted due to internal factors rather than external ones because, according to the authors, brains are good at multitasking.
In addition, even the use of technologies, like the Internet, does not affect productivity negatively (Molinsky et al., 2012). If there is workplace Internet leisure browsing, an employee receives an opportunity to refresh the mind to become more productive. In this context, browsing the Internet in the workplace can be discussed as a positive distraction. One more approach to increasing productivity is to divide attention while participating in a conference call, writing messages, and providing feedback. Consequently, employees intentionally divide their attention and actively participate in the process.
The future research on skills that 21st-century managers will develop should include further analysis of how technologies can influence productivity in the workplace. It is impossible to ignore the fact that the use of the Internet and technologies will increase, and more attention should be paid to examining how different digital tools can improve employees’ performance. Furthermore, more research is required on multitasking and cross-cultural communication as the key tendencies of a modern working environment.
Molinsky, A., Davenport, T. H., Iyer, B., & Davidson, C. (2012). Three skills every 21st-century manager needs. Harvard Business Review, 90(1/2), 139-143.