THINKING FORWARD – Ideas for your work from MIT Sloan School of Management


Ideas for your work from MIT Sloan School of Management | Office of Communications


1. The manufacturing sector has deep labor woes that predate the Great Resignation.

Decades of labor cost reductions rolled out in response to global trade competition have led to a challenging current climate: an aging workforce with highly specific skills that aren’t easily replaced; a shrinking pool of young people who view manufacturing as a compelling career choice; and a significant training burden as incoming employees arrive without requisite skills.

Ben Armstrong, interim executive director at MIT’s Industrial Performance Center, and a panel of manufacturing experts laid out some solutions at the recent 2022 MIT Manufacturing Conference:

  • Find secondary spigots. Get creative and identify new places and programs where you can cultivate promising talent — be they high school graduates open to training or mothers returning to the workforce.

  • Fast-track skills development. Borrow from boot camps that are big in software development to help employees immerse in robotics or other new technologies with a hands-on, concentrated approach that upskills more quickly.
  • Embrace a “new social contract” that delivers strong return rates for investors while offering workers high-quality, well-supported jobs where they have a voice in everything from training to business strategy.

2. As jobs move from traditional roles to gig and on-demand talent, businesses must adapt to a future where automation, agility, and reinvention define the new way of working.

A new book, “Work Without Jobs,” advises companies to emphasize the work instead of the job and encourage collaboration between humans and machines. In a recent webinar hosted by MIT Sloan Management Review, the book’s co-authors shared steps for achieving what they call a “new work operating system”:

  • Take apart and examine all the aspects of a “job.” Identify which elements of work need to be done at a particular place, with certain equipment, at specific times. Consider what work can be done independently and what needs collaboration.
  • Detach workers from roles. Instead, view them as individuals with an array of available skills, some of which they may not even be using in their current job.
  • Use talent marketplaces and platforms to match workers with tasks. This allows employees to take on projects outside their day-to-day roles and helps managers to expand the talent pool with external labor as needed.

3. As the Great Resignation continues, even top-level executives are considering a change. That movement leaves an opening for workers who’ve set their sights on a senior leadership position.

In a recent webinar hosted by MIT Sloan Executive Education, Cassandra Frangos, an executive development and C-suite succession advisor, offered several short- and long-term actions that can help you ascend the ranks. They include:

  • Keep your LinkedIn current. “When people have to send over a resume, it can be a daunting task if they are five jobs behind,” Frangos said.
  • Cast a wide recruiting network. Remember that executive recruitment is a relationship-based business.
  • Build a board of advisors. Look for a mentor that you can go to for advice, and find an external source who can be a sounding board for career discussions and will encourage you to push yourself.

Content from the: MIT Sloan Office of Communications

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By MIT Sloan CDO