For as long as most people can remember, the job of managers has been to give orders, see that the orders were followed, and hold people accountable if they didn't comply. Managers were paid to guarantee that certain results happened. If they could deliver the goods expected by their management, they got nice bonuses and were promoted.
All that has changed. A manager's job is no longer that of a watchdog, policeman, or slave driver. Managers must be able to shape a more supportive work environment and find ways to help each employee be more productive.
One of the reasons for this shift is the changing demographics of today's workforce. The explosion of two-wage-earner families has taken a toll on family life. Having a greater number of non-traditional families with single parents has added to this stress.
Also, younger employees--the post-Baby Boomers--are entering the workforce in droves. These younger employees have very different work and life values that have been shaped in partial reaction to the values of their parents. While their parents became slaves to their jobs and careers, today's younger workers are much more interested in jobs which have meaning and a larger purpose than just getting a paycheck.
If these workers' needs are not reflected in the workplace, they are quick to find another work environment that is more in sync with who they are. This is true even in tough economic times because they are also more willing to forego the trappings of material success.
These new values are reflected in the recent National Study of the Changing Workforce that was conducted by the Families and Work Institute in New York. The top three variables that some 3,400 randomly selected men and women considered to be most important in deciding to take their current job were: 1) open communication, 2) effect on personal/family life, and 3) the nature of work.