Tom Friedman, in his recent New York Times column titled From Hands to Heads to Hearts, advises us that “the relentless march of technology” is making human-to-human connection in our work more important IMG_1327
than ever. Even high tech jobs need what Friedman calls “STEMpathy”, combining knowledge and skills in science, technology, engineering, and math with empathy, the ability to understand and have compassion for the experience of others, such as a boss, coworkers, suppliers, business partners, or customers.  

Quoting Dov Seidman, Friedman writes:

Economies get labeled according to the predominant way people create value, pointed out Seidman, also author of the book “How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything.” So, the industrial economy, he noted, “was about hired hands. The knowledge economy was about hired heads. The technology revolution is thrusting us into ‘the human economy,’ which will be more about creating value with hired hearts — all the attributes that can’t be programmed into software, like passion, character and collaborative spirit.”

So the question for me is, “What is a manager’s role in the technology revolution? How can they manage people to get the most from their heads and hearts?” In a December 6, 2016 blog post titled “Managing Minds, Winning Hearts”, I wrote:

…workers will have to be smarter, more agile, and more innovative than ever. As automation and robotics improve, the demand for globalization increases, and communities become more diverse, any organization's competitive advantage will be in its collective knowledge and expertise. This means managing minds. The primary role of managers will be helping the people they supervise to become more competent, capable, and engaged in contributing to the success of the organization.

Friedman and Seidman remind us that the heart matters, too. In addition to increasing job competency, we need people who can develop the compassion and empathy and caring to collaborate, cooperate, and communicate with their teams, across their companies, and with partner organizations.  

But businesses cannot find and hire all of the sufficiently smart, compassionate people that they need. Managers have to develop these employees. Training programs are not the answer. In the knowledge economy, or, as Friedman calls it, the “human economy”, people need to learn continuously, on the job, in the flow of their work. And they need to be technologically and humanly proficient.  

As my co-author David Grebow has said, "The point being that successfully managing minds means being able to get the best from people - their talents, thoughts, creativity, ability and willingness to cooperate and collaborate, trust and more that we can’t anticipate as technology advances. This requires managing hearts as well as minds. In the industrial economy, you could hate your boss and your coworkers and your job and have a low EQ and still crank out work with your hands. Playing well in the sandbox was not a prerequisite. Try that in the knowledge economy, in a company that needs you to be producing with your mind in concert with others with whom you work, and you'll soon be out of a job.”

Comment