The Shape of Talent in 2023 and 2024

From McKinsey Newsletter: If 2023 was the year of the manager and the launchpad for generative AI, what will 2024 bring for talent leaders? In a recent McKinsey Talks Talent episode, partners Bryan Hancock and Brooke Weddle discuss the trends that shaped last year’s talent landscape—and those poised to redefine its contours yet again in 2024…when it comes to the talent landscape, there’s no one right answer to what year 2023 was: Generative AI, the middle manager, burnout, flexibility, the skills shortage, women’s ambition, disengagement—all of these trends, and others, fit the bill…


Lucia Rahilly: We sailed into 2023 on the rapids of generative AI and the choppy white water of an uncertain economy, and with a range of dynamics affecting the talent landscape. Reflecting on the close of another year, what would you call out in particular?

Brooke Weddle, McKinsey partner: …From a talent perspective, we’re seeing two things happening. The HR function is figuring out which use cases are most relevant to them. And chief human resources officers are already making some strides: use cases about talent acquisition or help desks, for example, in terms of the services HR offers its employees.

The other thing you’re seeing from a talent perspective is software coding—in product development, for instance. How is talent affected? How are roles changing? What are the new skill sets required? Those are huge questions coming to the fore.

Lucia Rahilly: Bryan, you and your coauthors Bill Schaninger and Emily Field published Power to the Middle in 2023, focusing on the unsung middle manager and the vital role that managers play in the health and productivity of leading organizations. Talk to us about the year of the manager.

Bryan Hancock, McKinsey partner: I love the phrase “the year of the manager,” and 2023 has been just that. As we’re talking about automation and the next wave of technologies, the folks responsible for managing these transitions and taking care of their teams are the managers.

Brooke Weddle: We should double-click on that from a cultural perspective. There is an increased appreciation for managers, and we’re figuring out new ways to tap into that. What are the rituals you need every manager engaging on? What are the habits and routines you need managers instilling into teams to improve not only productivity but also more holistic outcomes like well-being and experience? That’s a different kind of conversation these days, linking managers to cultural transformation. More here.

ALSO check out the conversation, and dive deeper with more insights on how organizations and leaders can prepare for the shifts ahead. This conversation has been edited for clarity and length: