Megatrends and HR Management Issues

Technological Trends. These include advances in person-to-person communications; coding and retrieving information; simulation and calculation; electronic assembly and drafting and management information systems. When they occur or are forecast for an organization, they have several predictable effects:

• They focus on managing change and on managing technology.
• They spawn new varieties of knowledge work (scientific and computer specialists, consultants).
• They obsolete many existing technical skills.
• They remove responsibility from middle management.

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Social Psychological Trends.

Something is happening to and within the work force. People are seeking more balance in their lives – between work, leisure and family; between value and cost. They are questioning more assumptions: For instance, why not pay for staying well rather than paying for being sick?

They are developing greater levels of spiritual and inner strength through such techniques as meditation, self-management and stress control.

Broad special interest and self-help networks are growing outside the system (John Anderson’s campaign is but the latest large-scale expression of this phenomenon). And there is in¬creasing concern for job satisfaction and personal growth as well as basic compensation.

Since organizations are social systems, these patterns and others are important for managers to monitor and encourage. In a nutshell, they imply greater participation and humanism in the workplace. In many organizations this new atmosphere may broaden internal communications and some decision processes. It may encourage career growth and job/life balance. And it may elevate considerations like job satisfaction and organization climate to the same level as financial bottom-line mea¬sures.

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Economic Trends. Most economists agree that there are no reliable economic models for predicting and managing supply and demand. It is clear, however, that U.S. organizations face slowing productivity and a need to function more effectively in a global trading community. Suddenly people who can manage multilingual work forces, deal with and through foreign governments, manage joint ventures and achieve the most productive mix of people, technology, and investment are in demand.

Political Trends. There is little indication that government will move be¬yond the short-range, special-interest-group, press-sensitive, bartering decision practices of the ’70s. If this is true, business leaders them¬selves must control the long-range impact of decisions.

At the same time, they must educate government decision makers and the public about bus¬iness needs. To do this, managers must strengthen their ability to predict the impacts of their decisions and to affect political processes at the local and state as well as national levels. Again, this implies developing new management skills.

Intellectual Trends. More sophisticated thinking and planning tools are available to managers today than ever before. Many of them come from the relatively new disciplines of policy science, systems theory, future studies, strategic planning, management science and behavioral science.

Management can use tools and techniques from these disciplines to create visions of alternative futures, to plan-and critique business strategy, to analyze problems and make decisions from a systems perspective, to examine trends and assumptions and to plan policy and philosophy guidelines for day-to-day actions.

The appropriate responses to these trends will vary across industries and organizations, but the critical need to address human resources implications mounts for all of us as we move into the ’80s. And top management must lead the pack.

By : Patricia Lagan. Training Magazine.

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