If you allow people the opportunity to learn something new or to show their craft, they will give you their best work. The magic is in providing the opportunity.

Often managers have little faith in their employees’ ability to survive the twists and turns of a rapidly evolving business landscape. And we hear experts saying that the majority of people in disappearing jobs do not realize what is coming and that many employees are neither able nor willing to change.

This kind of thinking is common, but it’s wrong, as a survey of thousands of employees around the world shows. It begins with employees being more adaptive and optimistic about the future than their leaders recognize.

Two groups, business leaders and employees, perceived the future in significantly different ways.

Leaders feel anxious as they struggle to mobilize the workforce of tomorrow. In a climate of perpetual disruption, how can they find and hire employees who have the skills their companies need? And what should they do with people whose skills have become obsolete?

Employees, however, didn’t share that sense of anxiety. Instead, they focused more on the opportunities and benefits that the future holds for them. They revealed themselves to be much more eager to embrace change and learn new skills than their employers gave them credit for.

When leaders today consider the forces that are changing how work is done, they tend to think mostly about disruptive technologies. But that’s too narrow a focus. A broad set of forces is transforming the nature of work, and companies need to take them all into account.

To prepare, companies should ensure employees can gain experience and develop new capabilities in ways that their current jobs don’t allow. Then, as unique needs arise, companies will be able to quickly locate employees within its ranks who have the motivation and skills to meet them.


Inspired by: Harvard Business Review - Your Workforce Is More Adaptable Than You Think, by Joseph B. Fuller, Judith K. Wallenstein, Manjari Raman, and Alice de Chalendar