Supervisor Skills Needed for the Emerging Workplace: Succeeding in 2030 and Beyond | SOS Podcast

Supervisor Skills Needed for the Emerging Workplace: Succeeding in 2030 and Beyond | SOS Podcast

The workplace is changing rapidly.  Emerging technologies, artificial intelligence, and an unprecedented workforce transition demand a new set of skills for those on the frontline.  In this episode, podcast host Joe White provides a glimpse at what’s coming in the not-too-distant future.  For those looking to lead teams beyond the next few years, this is an important episode highlighting skills essential to your future success.






The SOS podcast is a production of AEU LEAD, an organization redefining how mid and frontline managers are developed.

Joe White:

Hello, and thank you for joining us. I'm Joe White, and this is the Supervisor Skills Secrets of Success Podcast. As we wind down season three, I've intentionally saved this topic for release at a point where year-ending reflections and planning discussions for the future often coincide. Our topic today is personal and professional growth and development. While the majority of our episodes focus on skills needed to more effectively work with the emerging workforce, this particular recording is about you, the listener. It's about making a case for temporarily breaking from the routine to focus on your own needs, considering where you are now and where you would like to be in two to three years.

More so than at any point in the past, the process of career planning and professional development is an individual responsibility. Long gone are the days where this was mapped out for you by someone else with your best interest in mind. As a wise person once said, if it's to be, it's up to me. If this sounds like a topic of interest, I hope you'll stick around for a discussion today.

It never fails. I show up for onsite training with clients across all regions of the US, and certain patterns always emerge. Rooms always fill from the back to the front, those that work together stick together, and attention spans always plummet an hour or so after lunch. While this is a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor, it does speak to norms in human behavior I've observed over a period of years in countless training sessions. Participants typically attend workshops because someone has identified an organizational-level need for it. In practice, most supervisors attend training sessions because they were told they had to, not necessarily because they wanted to.

This particular podcast is about taking responsibility for your own development needs. It's about recognizing the ever-increasing rate of change in the world around us and responding to deficiencies in our skillset needed for growth and performance improvement. Most importantly, it's about preparing ourselves for the challenges ahead before the need becomes immediately apparent to those we lead or those we report to.

  • So, where do you start? 
  • What should you be thinking about? 
  • What competencies do you need that perhaps you currently don't have? 

Here are a few recommendations I would like to pass along from a recent Forbes article, Identifying the Most In-demand Skills for Frontline Supervisors by 2030:


1. Social Intelligence

Workplaces are becoming increasingly diverse. As baby boomers transition to retirement, they're being replaced on payrolls by Gen Z. 47% of this incoming generation are ethnic minorities. The ability to work with a widely diverse workforce for a common purpose and aligned on common goals will be a deeply valued capability. Seeing issues from multiple perspectives, developing strong communication skills, and moving past any differences in values or beliefs are all attributes that can be learned for those willing to put forth the effort.


2. Emotional Intelligence

The majority of decisions we make each and every day are based on how we feel and not necessarily what we might think. To work more effectively with direct reports, it's important to understand the role emotions have in real-time decision-making. In the process of developing skills and emotional intelligence, you'll learn how to manage your own emotions through self-awareness and self-regulation. In addition, you'll better understand how emotions influence those around you and learn how to intrinsically motivate individuals where performance improvement is needed.


3. Leadership Skills

A common denominator across many blue-collar or labor-dependent industries involves the path of promotion for most frontline supervisors. More often than not, it's advancement from within. Unfortunately, the skills most often used to identify management potential share little in common with those required to succeed once there. The incoming generation wants to work for supervisors they know and trust. They want to be led, not managed or controlled. Developing skills in frontline leadership is a must. Learning to lead from a position of influence will be a key to success and a highly sought-after capability moving forward.


4. Digital Literacy

We live at a point in time whereby advancements in technology are outpacing rates of adoption. This directly translates to a rapidly changing workplace and a sharply increased need for digital literacy. Most experts agree familiarization and use of integrated technologies will no longer be an option. By 2030, those left behind in this area will be at a severe disadvantage in competing for jobs, opportunities, and promotions. As a supervisor, this is a trend that's already underway and one you must take seriously. No industry is immune to the benefits technology can offer or the efficiencies it can provide. Get ahead of this curve and be at the forefront of those most capable of helping integrate needed change.


5. Analytical Skills

Data collection will become increasingly more sophisticated and advanced in the years ahead. It will also be a primary point of reference in business-critical decision-making. As a supervisor, you'll likely be responsible for monitoring and responding to data specific to operational metrics involving efficiency, production, safety, and cost. Those capable of using this information to recognize continuous improvement opportunities will distance themselves from those that can't. If you're not comfortable with data analysis, consider this as a priority for targeted development in the near term.

The working environment is changing, and it's changing rapidly. There are a number of factors driving it, including generational transitions, unemployment rates, and advancements in technology. The fallout of this churn creates both an opportunity and risk. For those seizing the moment as a means of differentiating themselves from peers, promotional opportunities are likely to follow. For those reluctant to change or married to the past, the future may well be unforgiving. Employment options will likely becoming increasingly limited, and promotional opportunities few. In just a few short years, the workplace will look entirely different. The skills required to succeed are clear. The question is, how are you going to prepare for it?

Thank you for joining us. It's my sincere hope you found benefit in our discussion today. Most importantly, I hope you're able to benefit from this information and to use it to help you identify areas of targeted development in the upcoming year. Our next podcast is scheduled for release on November 28th. That episode will be the last in our current season and will mark the beginning of a winter break that will run throughout the holidays and into the middle of January. Should you have any questions or need additional information regarding today's topic, just let us know. Our contact information is provided in the show notes accompanying this episode. For those that may not have reviewed or rated your experience with our show, we would greatly appreciate you doing so. That's it for now. Stay safe, and thanks for listening.

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About the Author

As Director of AEU LEAD, Joe White focuses on helping members transform operational goals into actionable plans through a structured change management process. Prior to joining AEU, Joe was a senior consultant for E.I. DuPont’s consulting division, DuPont Sustainable Solutions (DSS). He joined DSS in 2011 to develop the next generation of safety practices using extensive research in behavioral sciences he’s compiled over a period of nearly two decades. His efforts resulted in the development of The Risk Factor, which is now the flagship instructor-led offering for the consulting division. Combined, Joe has 26 years of operational safety experience, the majority of which was with DuPont. Joe has been published in Occupational Health & Safety Magazine for his prominent work in safety relative to behavioral and neurosciences and is an event speaker at many leading industry conferences including National Safety Council (NSC) Congress and Expos, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), and National Maritime Safety Association (NMSA). Joe is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University and has a B.S., in Safety and Risk Administration.

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