How to Manage the People of Today

Do you know how to manage the expectations and personal goals of the modern employee?

It’s a digital world with so many ways of communicating - should you send a text, an email, or have a face-to-face conversation? The options are many and not only that, they’re constantly being updated or there is a new app or way to do it almost constantly being released. And this trend overlaps in the modern age in so many ways, particularly in the workspace and especially when it comes to management.

It’s been said many a time: just because you’ve made it to the top, doesn’t mean that you should quit learning. When it comes to technology, you try to stay on top of the latest gadgets, right? So why wouldn’t you do the same when it comes to the managing of people? Do you know how to manage a workforce that is made up of modern employees?

Breaking tradition

In the majority of organizations, there already exists some form of ineffective annual people cycle, as many ‘executives and managers often think their job is to get financial results rather than to manage people’. This traditional model allows one to look back on an employee’s time at the company let’s say 6, 9 or even 12 months in the past and typically tends to consist of only one track: performance. Just like with the communication options example above, modern organizations change much faster than before. Starting more or less now, ‘business[es will be] competing fiercely for the best available workers and for the talent that will replace the retiring Boomer generation’It’s time to look beyond the annual performance model and keep up with the wants and needs of modern employees.

What they want

The term modern employees - what comes to mind? Millennials, Centennials? No matter what generation you think this description generally applies to, the expectations and personal goals of the modern employee are always more or less the same.

“If you want to retain the millennials and centennials in the workplace, the behavior of leadership must change.” - Carolyn G. Anderson, Leadership consultant & Keynote speaker

For the modern employee, career development is about moving forward and not just in terms of getting promoted and getting a higher salary; the modern employee has the ‘ambition and desire to keep learning’ (1).

“The workplace and workforce are going to change pretty dramatically as we look forward. The entire concept of work is going to become more flexible. The skills needed in the workforce are going to be less about IQ and a little bit more about EQ, because if you think about it, a lot of IQ knowledge is going to be available at our fingertips through hand-held devices and the computer and technologies that we have at our disposal.” - Deborah Henretta, Group President, Asia & Global Specialty Channel, Procter & Gamble

The modern employee also wants their work to be recognized and worthwhile, to be able to have good work-life balance - with 95% saying that work-life balance is very important to them (1) - as well as diversity promises being met in the workplace. Check out our blog post about the importance of female leaders and diversity in the workplace here.

And what brings the modern employee purpose in their work? A large contributing factor is being attracted to brands that suit their own values - meaning that there is a waning importance of corporate responsibility. They are even willing to relocate to another country if the company and product closely aligns with their personal beliefs and goals, and some actually find the fact that they need to move to be a bonus (1)!

So, attraction and retention are (or are going to be) important areas for managers and companies to focus on for the future. And great, we’ve identified the problem! But how to ensure that the needs and desires of your modern workforce are being met? You know by now that an annual review on its own is not the way to go...

The dynamic modern process

Today’s organizations are complex, agile, and dynamic. We need a people model that reflects and supports that reality by turning to frequent 1-on-1s, feedback, and coaching to ensure ongoing and dynamic people development. Since our settings and resources change all the time, your organization’s people model should be able to embrace and support these changes with ease.

And companies can’t remain passive about employee development programs because the cost of losing talent is so high. With a more dynamic modern process, you as a manager will help your employees acquire the knowledge, skills, and career goals that they want - which they will end up applying to their tasks at work and, ultimately, the product.

Let’s take a look at the main differences between these organizational structures.

The Traditional Organization is:

  • Hierarchical: Power flows vertically and upward 
  • Fixed and rigid
  • Employees are departmentalized 
  • Employees follow a chain of command,

while the Modern Organization is:

  • Boundaryless: Networking and collaborating more than ever before
  • Well-suited for rapid innovation
  • Depends on soft skills: Consensus building, relationships, listening, and understanding (2).

Essentially, the main points of disagreement between the two structures are: stability, flexibility, hierarchy, teamwork, employee morale, risk management, diversification, and technology (3). And the organizational setup is reflected more often than not in that company’s people management. Let’s take a look at how these organizational structures are reflected in the different people models.

This is what the traditional employee vs. dynamic modern people model looks like:

The distinction should be quite obvious. The dynamic model covers all aspects necessary of engaging and retaining modern employees. And it doesn’t completely throw away the annual review even! It instead uses project, personal development, and feedback to encompass and create the most thorough annual review possible. This means more progression for you as a manager, each of your employees individually and your organization overall.             

Is it really worth all the fuss?

Okay, maybe this seems like a lot and maybe you’re thinking: I’m already so incredibly busy as a manager, how do I make the shift to a modern people management model in my organization?

Some easy points to start with when making the transition are:

  • Monthly 1-on-1 meetings: regular meetings allow for a clear and continuous channel of communication between manager and employee. It’s a safe space to record agreements, developments, and keep track of projects. The information collected from each monthly meeting is especially helpful in combination with annual reviews.
  • Ongoing Personal + Team Development: allow for members of different teams to ask questions and for help from anybody. If one person wishes to learn a new skill, have the employee that is the best at that skill to teach it. This not only keeps your employees learning, but also encourages teamwork throughout your organization.
  • Flexible work: remote work is only becoming more and more common. Allow employees to telecommute as not only will they appreciate the option, but studies have shown that remote workers have a higher productivity than those in the office. It is also an easy way to encourage better work-life balance.

And is it really worth it? My company has been doing things the traditional way for years…

But yes, it’s totally worth it. Let's take a look at some quick facts:

So, 'move past the traditional people model and invest in skills development for your employees’ (7). Adopt the role of a modern manager by defining, living and developing your company’s leadership by implementing a dynamic modern people model.


  1. ‍
  2. ‍
  3. ‍
  4. ‍
  5. ‍
  6. ‍
  7. ‍


What Female Leaders Bring to the Table

What Female Leaders Bring to the Table

Gender differences dominate the headlines. But how much truth is there in the stereotypical representation of female leaders? And what, if anything, does that mean for business?

June 18, 2020
How to Lead Through Uncertainty

How to Lead Through Uncertainty

“The only thing that’s constant in life is change” — it’s a saying we can all feel affinity with. But how positively do we respond to change in our own career and, more importantly, how well do we lead through it?

June 3, 2020
Your Guide to Employee Wellbeing

Your Guide to Employee Wellbeing

The current climate has put a strain on employee wellbeing, no doubt. But it’s important to recognize and support the factors that influence wellbeing in the workplace, not only today but well into the future.

April 30, 2020