People are less willing to remain in jobs they hate and are quitting without a new one lined up. This is now called, “The Great Resignation”. Millions have dropped out of the workforce; others have started their own businesses; and some are looking to do something different from what they were doing.
When it comes to designing the future of work, one size fits none. Discovering success isn’t about a hybrid model or offering remote work options. Individuals and organizations are looking for more freedom. The freedom to choose the work model that makes the most sense. The freedom to choose their own values. And the freedom to pursue what matters most. We reached out to successful leaders and thought leaders across all industries to glean their insights and predictions about how to create a future that works.
As a part of our interview series called “How Employers and Employees are Reworking Work Together,” we had the pleasure to interview Michael Schoettle.
Michael Schoettle has 40 years of experience with people making career changes, including being a Partner at Heidrick & Struggles, a leading global executive search firm, and later, a career coach for professional getting an EMBA. He is a three-time Olympian, including crewing on the 5.5 meter class boat that won the 1952 Olympics and leading the 1992 U.S. Olympic Sailing Team in Barcelona that won medals in 9 out of 10 events. His experiences have given him a good understanding of what it takes to be successful, and he has written a book, CAREER CHANGE GUIDE to help people make better decisions about where they work and what they do.
Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today.
When I was fifteen years old, I was a member of the 1952 United States Olympic Team in Helsinki, Finland, crewing in the 5.5 meter sailboat skippered by Dr. Britton Chance, a scientist. While practicing, I was having trouble with one of the winches and was trying to force it to do what I wanted. Dr Chance told me to stop and look at it, determine what was causing the problem, decide the action to take to fix it, and do that. Later in the race in which I was onboard, a problem with hoisting the spinnaker arose. It was my job to hoist it. I didn’t at first, because I saw problem, waited until it was fixed, and then hoisted the spinnaker. We went on to win that race and the series. Dr. Chance’s lesson has stayed with me my whole life and has enabled me to make better decisions and accomplish more. Also, the Olympic success led to my continuing to be involved in the Olympics including, being a member of the 1972 Olympic Sailing Team, managing the sailing competition in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, and leading the 1992 United States Olympic Sailing Team that won medals in 9 out of 10 events.
Another experience that had a large impact on my life was when in 1973 I was approached by Heidrick & Struggles, a global executive search firm, for one of their clients. The consultant, Dr. John Schlosser, presented me to his client, who refused to interview me because I had graduated from Yale University and Harvard Business School. He thought that I would be too stuck on myself and not work very hard. When Dr. Chance told me this, he then asked me if I would be interested in joining his firm as a consultant. This led to my meeting many Partners and their checking my references and offering me a job. I accepted. This put me on a career path that involves my being able to get to know many people and help them getting into better work situations. I was with Heidrick & Struggles for 23 years. After retiring I spent the next 20 years helping people get jobs and/or manage their careers, first as a volunteer at a not-for-profit and then as professor and coach for EMBAs at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
Let’s zoom out. What do you predict will be the same about work, the workforce and the workplace 10–15 years from now? What do you predict will be different?
In past the advent of increased competition and technology has resulted in a large increase in productivity. People at all levels have become more effective through education, training, and specialization in the work that they do. I think that this will continue with more specialization and automation that will increase the productivity of the workforce and compensation of employees.
What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?
Listen to your employees. Keep in mind the opportunities and obstacles of the business, lead thoughtfully, have a collaborative culture, and provide training and coaching to your employees as appropriate.
What do you predict will be the biggest gaps between what employers are willing to offer and what employees expect as we move forward? And what strategies would you offer about how to reconcile those gaps?
As we have seen during the current Covid crisis, employers laid off many employees , and when things turned around the employers have had trouble recruiting people. We will continue to have business cycles. Employers will have to decide how to deal with these cycles more creatively than in the past to position themselves in better situations when the business comes back.
We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working From Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?
Working from home will continue, especially for people with jobs that to not require interactions with others in the firms. However, interactions in the office are necessary for collaboration, teamwork, and communications at all levels. Also, people learn more and will progress more in their responsibilities if they spend most, if not all, their time in the office.
We’ve all read the headlines about how the pandemic reshaped the workforce. What societal changes do you foresee as necessary to support a future of work that works for everyone?
I am very concerned by the current emphasis on racial identity. I think this is destructive, for it replaces peoples’ values, abilities, results that they achieve by their race. This puts the emphasis of racial identity above what is important in a healthy community. Continuing this will diminish the continued progress of our society.
What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?
I see many people at all levels exhibit in their lives generosity and giving of themselves to others and their communities. This gives me optimism that we will endure.
Our collective mental health and wellbeing are now considered collateral as we consider the future of work. What innovative strategies do you see employers offering to help improve and optimize their employee’s mental health and wellbeing?
The most important thing is for employers to respect their employees and invest their development and provide a culture based on values, collaboration, and continued development of each individual appropriate for their contributions and potential.
Let’s get more specific. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?” (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Increased specialization in work and many other fields. For example, marketing consumer products seldom differentiated between consumers other that by sex, ie. men and women. Now they differentiate into many specific groups by age, interest, race, education etc.
- Many routine jobs have been and are being replaced by automatic systems. An example would be having a computer answer a help desk phone and try to solve the issue or problem. In the past a person would always answer such calls.
- Automation is also creating many new jobs, many which require education and training. For example, the automated systems create a need for people to identify the need, write the programs, design the hardware etc.
- The pace of technical change is accelerating. For example, cell phones keep getting better with even shorter intervals before new ones with more capabilities are introduced.
- People are less willing to remain in jobs they hate and are quitting without a new one lined up. This is now called, “The Great Resignation”. Millions have dropped out of the workforce; others have started their own businesses; and some are looking to do something different from what they were doing.
I keep quotes on my desk and on scraps of paper to stay inspired. What’s your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? And how has this quote shaped your perspective?
When I was young, my grandmother used to say, “Children live each day and do the best you can.” I never paid much attention to this advice. Now I think it is very good advice and follow it .
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He, she, or they might just see this if we tag them.
Angela Merkel, who grew up in East Germany and lead Germany for many years , demonstrated great values, perspective, and judgement. She was a great leader and person.
Our readers often like to continue the conversation with our featured interviewees. How can they best connect with you and stay current on what you’re discovering?
Those people who read my book can send me an email, and others can go to my website, www.careerchange.guide, and contact me through that.
Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and good health.