A businesswoman sitting at a table with a younger employee smiles as they collaborate in front of a laptop computer.
2024 will bring many challenges to the U.S. and businesses large and small. Employees, especially younger ones, need a leader who is empathetic and authentic. — Getty Images/SolStock

Consumers are feeling less than confident going into 2024, and the same is likely true for your employees. As a boss, it’s your job to manage morale and lead your team through times of uncertainty. Employees look to you for direction and support. Here’s how to develop the skills you’ll need to be a great boss in 2024.

Practice human leadership

Traditional leadership models advocate for a top-down management approach, where tasks are delegated and assigned linearly and rigidly. Today’s employees need a different type of leadership — one that is flexible, empathetic, and authentic.

“Social and political turbulence, work-life fusion and hybrid work arrangements blur the boundaries that previously shaped the leader-employee dynamic. Leaders must navigate not simply a leader-to-employee relationship, but a human-to-human one,” said Caitlin Duffy, Research Director at Gartner.

While this type of management may seem intuitive, today only 29% of employees say their bosses are human leaders. Human leadership centers around authenticity, empathy, and adaptivity: Look for ways to infuse those values throughout your work culture.

Develop a crisis management plan

Conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East, an uncertain economy, and the presidential election are contributing to a risky business environment entering 2024. Planning for potential impacts on your business can help mitigate some of those risks.

“Companies that do not have a crisis management plan run the risk of harming employees, reputation damage, financial loss, and legal issues,” wrote Forbes. “Leaders must develop robust crisis management skills, focusing on proactive strategies, effective communication, and recovery plans.”

Consider working with your managers to create a business continuity plan. These plans cover what to do in case of an emergency — such as a data breach, natural disaster, or other unplanned event. A continuity plan helps your team stay organized in a crisis and can help your business recover faster.

Leaders must navigate not simply a leader-to-employee relationship, but a human-to-human one.

Caitlin Duffy, Research Director at Gartner

Prioritize building a cohesive culture

Office culture has changed dramatically, which has implications for employee morale, employer branding and recruiting, and productivity and innovation.

“Fewer in-person interactions, less time in the office and shrinking employee ecosystems have rocked the traditional cultural experience,” wrote Peter Aykens, Practice Vice President of Gartner's Human Resources practice.

No matter what working model you offer your employees (hybrid, remote, or in office), you need to find ways to foster a culture that resonates with everyone. Make sure employees feel valued, emphasize the mission and values of your business, and implement tools that empower employees to be connected seamlessly throughout the day.

Be willing to delegate

When facing uncertainty, many managers instinctively try to be more hands-on, believing that managing employees is the key to steering the company successfully. This approach unfortunately leads to micromanagement, which can ruin both morale and productivity. Resist the urge to take on more from your team in 2024 and delegate as much as possible.

This is especially true for bosses managing Generation Z workers — who are fast playing a bigger role in the workforce. “Bosses who give their Gen-Z employees open-ended tasks that satisfy their drive for autonomy and ownership will be rewarded with dedication and creativity from their young employees," said Michael Pankowski, Gen-Z Analyst at Deloitte Digital.

Make it a priority in 2024 to give your team members tasks that are achievable with the resources they need to complete their work independently. Entrusting your employees with more responsibility helps you focus on the bigger picture while helping them develop professionally.

[Read more: How Can I Be Myself and Still Be a Great Boss?]

Ask for feedback

Create a feedback loop to quickly identify and address problems before they grow. Open and honest communication can help troubleshoot workflow bottlenecks, communication challenges, and cultural concerns that prevent employees from feeling loyal to your business.

You may not feel comfortable asking for feedback on your personal work style. But you should still ask your team to contribute their ideas for ways to improve your operation. This practice can be a good way to think of new products, marketing ideas, and strategies for retaining customers or boosting sales.

[Read more: How to Ask for Peer Feedback]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.