April 2005 
Volume 03, Issue 11 
Cover Story

Follow their lead

New technologies. Evolving business conditions. A growing portion of younger employees who are savvy with gadgets. With changes such as these, what will the manager of the future need to do to keep Boeing moving forward?


What do I need to do?

What must tomorrow's front-line managers know how to do to manage effectively in a networked, "wired" environment—and to help Boeing remain competitive? Here's one take on the subject from John Salas of the Analysis, Modeling and Simulation organization, a unit of Boeing Integrated Defense Systems. He's helping facilitate studies to define and better prepare Boeing's future organizational effectiveness.

  • Adapt to and manage change
  • Lead with speed
  • Communicate
  • Tolerate others' views
  • Solve problems
  • Collaborate
  • Take risks
  • Build teams
  • Mentor
  • Inspire
  • Be honest
  • Act with integrity
  • Be innovative
  • Leverage technology
Flying at Mach speed is a Boeing manager's biggest challenge: change. Sure, new technologies and an evolving global business landscape drive change. But what could exponentially alter the workplace in the near future is a new breed of employee—the wired worker. That could mean Boeing managers, especially first-line managers, will have to perform their jobs differently to lead employees successfully and achieve Boeing's and customers' goals.

"In four or five years, we're going to see a new generation of workers," said John Salas with the business development team of the Analysis, Modeling and Simulation organization, a unit of Boeing Integrated Defense Systems. He's helping facilitate studies to define and better prepare Boeing's future organizational effectiveness. "They grew up with the Internet, and they're coming in with expectations of a net-enabled work environment."

According to the research that Salas has seen, their expectations could include immediate access to information, the use of forward-moving technological tools and speedy resolutions to issues and projects. And entities outside Boeing have made forecasts about other differences in today's young adults. An article in a publication of The Conference Board, a private economic research group, listed 10 cognitive differences in the under-30 cohort. These differences—such as a keen capacity for multitasking and an ability to connect ideas that take them outside a single, linear path of thought—could create challenges in how to reach and engage members of this demographic.

As a result of changes such as these, the role of managers will evolve from informational and administrative to one of being a leader, facilitator and connector of people, ideas and resources. In particular, first-line managers and their teammates are at the heart of the company. Their actions will continue to directly shape and affect Boeing's direction amid a changing, increasingly complex business environment.

"As Boeing continues toward the vision of being an integrated global aerospace company, our reliance on the people who have the capacities, capabilities and critical thinking skills to solve complex problems is ever greater," said Rick Stephens, Boeing senior vice president of Internal Services. "We need to develop, attract and retain bright, creative and ambitious individuals for our future workforce."

"Every manager needs to make the commitment to leadership and to Boeing values," said Rogelio Rivera, Boeing senior organizational effectiveness advisor. "You need to lead by example, so the people around you will align themselves with those values. If there isn't the commitment by the manager, then the employee will want to move on and leave the company."

To swiftly and effectively manage customer goals, they will need to provide a collaborative, open-information environment that encourages risk taking and individual decision making. There will be no room for micromanaging or information hoarding, Salas said. Mentoring and developing employees will play a huge part of managing to ensure the right people with the right skills are on the right projects.

To achieve this, managers will need to identify their employees' skill strengths and weaknesses adeptly in order to form teams with people whose capabilities will meet particular project goals. They also will need to have an understanding of every point in the business structure—the value chain—to be more efficient, innovative and customer-centric.

"The speed at which technology is introduced or refreshed into the market has an effect on customers," Salas said. "They want it now, need it now."

Managers will need to know more about their customers and the marketplace and to be "knowledge centers" to form specific project teams and help employees manage issues.

"Employees who are engaged can make the right decision at the right time for business, so leaders can then focus on the key issues that resolve challenges their teams face," Stephens said. "Creating a culture where we are prepared and actively engaged helps the organization learn, unlearn and relearn as new technologies come along."



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