October 2003

The Changing World of Work

By Cheryl Leitschuh, EdD

The world of work is changing and becoming more demanding. People need to change with it.

Research shows that individuals deal with constant speed and change best when they know who they are, where their natural talents lie, what they desire, and how to connect with changes.

Peter Drucker, the organizational and leadership guru, found that successful organizations established an efficient organizational structure, then hired individuals to meet the needs of this structure. This made life simpler for employees as they were clear on job expectations and how they operated in the organizational structure.

In Drucker’s book Management Challenges for the 21st Century (HarperBusiness, 1999), he acknowledges that the old paradigm no longer works. The realities of the marketplace force organizations to be fluid in their structure and ready to reorganize to meet the organization’s economic needs. Accordingly, Drucker says that organizations need flexible employees, ready to change as the needs of the organization change. Drucker states, “Success in the knowledge economy comes to those who know themselves—their strengths, their values, and how they best perform.”

This new paradigm requires all workers to be aware of their vision, the best role that they play in achieving productivity and success. In addition, each organization must understand the talents of their players and assign to them the most effective role possible.

Organizations that have moved to this new paradigm are seeing results. A Gallup survey of 55,000 workers that attempted to match employee attitudes with company results found that four attitudes, taken together, correlate strongly with higher profits:

This new paradigm creates an interesting dilemma. Most individual employees haven’t been taught how to create a vision for their career. Most employees cannot clearly identify the best role they play in the work world using their talents and abilities. Most have never learned how to create a vision for themselves, how to operate from a conscious sense of their strengths and bring their strengths to their work at every endeavor.

Learning these things about yourself is the necessary first step in becoming comfortable with change.

Cheryl Leitschuh, EdD, is a leadership development consultant with RSM McGladrey. She can be contacted at Cheryl.Leitschuh@rsmi.com.

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