Executive summary in English

Cahier n°3 : Roles and skills of managers in a dynamic of transformation and innovation


The acceleration in technological changes, new relationships to work, and the effects of the pandemic: this study examines the managerial skills required in situations of sudden change. How do their roles and skills evolve to include these new dimensions? What are the new solutions for providing support, coaching and learning that will need to be developed by companies in the future?

Current managerial challenges are due to the profound transformations of globalisation, digitalisation and the emergence of new business models which have been amplified and revealed by the recent crisis and have led to an exacerbation of the dynamics of change. Traditional models of planned change are no longer effective in coming to grips with such dynamics: it is possible to find more relevant keys to understanding and acting on transformation by adopting pragmatic approaches and paradox management.

In companies, we observe a variety of different rationales to justify transformations. The managerial approach, still very common, places efficiency and order at the forefront of concerns and recognises that the performance of teams can no longer be based on the standard “command and control” model. Other organisations adopt a market-based approach: if a transformation is judged necessary, it is to better face up to the challenges of an environment in the short term and to keep in touch with societal changes; the yardstick of induced economic value is used to evaluate such a transformation. In other companies, it is more a rationale based on innovation that triggers managerial transformation: inventing new ways of managing and innovating becomes a driver of competitiveness. It is up to the HR function to identify which rationales are at work in order to mitigate antagonisms and nurture cooperation.

In the field, managers adapt and invent their practices on a daily basis, taking on board the paradoxes imposed on them by their environment as well as those that are inherent to their task of implementing transformation. In terms of the managerial practices observed we note the renewal of meetings under different forms, increasingly structured and participative and conducted at higher pace; we also note new ways of organising work in which managers position themselves differently in relation to their teams, are more willing to depart from the usual procedures, and adopt different modes of representation; there is also greater attention paid to people, with multiple and frequent exchanges and feedback. The need for new managerial skills is increasingly emerging in an effort to decipher and understand, to be a proactive actor of change, develop new relationships, engage in action, and develop collaborative behaviours.

The measures taken by companies to support these managers are varied. Some organisations opt for a transformation of corporate culture through managerial attitudes, quality of life at work, or collective intelligence. Others prefer to nurture and equip managers through new leadership programmes, the acquisition of new disciplines, by providing support and a greater openness to general culture. Yet others also act on the organisational framework, facilitating the organisation of work, offering support structures, or adapting management systems. However diverse they may be, these measures show that the manager is making a comeback.

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