This days, we hear many companies saying they prioritize humans, etc. But concretely, what does “putting people at the heart of the organization” mean? Why does it seems to be new, and what does it change in the manager’s role?

A little background: Since the 80s, following Milton Friedman, the goal of every company has been to maximize shareholder dividends. The human aspect was reduced to ensuring that “human resources” adhere to procedures and that the work organization is optimal. However, since the beginning of the century, the pursuit of the common good becomes as important, if not more so, than profit in a growing number of companies, in the sense of Peter Drucker. Profit remains an imperative but is no longer an end in itself.

What triggered this paradigm shift is the simple and stark realization that today’s world is not functioning.

What impact does this have on the manager’s role? In the 80s, the manager was the one who solved problems, knew what needed to be done, gave instructions to “human resources,” and optimized work to consume as little as possible. Who still wants that?

Today, the role is to create an environment in which employees can express their potential and have the means to solve problems by themselves.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of skills for a 21st-century manager:

  • Manage the careers of their employees
  • Directly coach their employees or find them a coach tailored to their needs and goals
  • Know how to delegate with confidence
  • Manage the expectations and satisfaction of their employees
  • Define a vision for the team and harmonize objectives
  • Ensure well-being at work and, if necessary, that employees receive help from a professional

What other skills and missions do you think are essential for a manager in the 21st century?