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On Veterans Day – or any day – we need to go beyond expressing gratitude for veterans’ military service. That’s a given. But what they really want and deserve are jobs – new careers – that not only provide a paycheck (vital) but also enable them to use their skills, insights and perspectives gained from their experience to continue to contribute in meaningful ways.

Whether potential employers, recruiters or workplace colleagues, it’s important to realize that 20- or 30-something veterans, particularly those who have had combat experience or trained those who have, are not typical Gen Y/Millennials. Of necessity, they have achieved a greater sense of maturity, and they have likely faced and survived different challenges. Often they are more comfortable working and socializing with Gen Xers and Boomers. Their diverse experience should be recognized for the extraordinary value it can bring to the business and consumer marketplace. They know what extreme loyalty and teamwork is.

Reach out and help them network and learn the business cultures they will be entering. Respect them not only for their past but what they can be in the future given the opportunity.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot     www.pdcounsel.com




Despite the acknowledgement by leaders and human resource chiefs that succession planning is a top concern and business imperative, much too little is being done about it, especially now as more Baby Boomers inch toward potential retirement and the recovering economy leads to more mobility of talent. There are several reasons, including inertia and wishful thinking that defections to other employers, deaths or illnesses, early retirements or dissatisfaction won’t happen – at least without sufficient notice. Another reason is fear of rocking the boat and the internal politics likely to arise as the succession planning process proceeds. This can be uncomfortable, disruptive and demoralizing to key players if a carefully considered process isn’t instituted.

From our experience, the important obstacles talked about less frequently are lack of confidence in the potential leaders coming up behind the incumbents – as well as leaders, particularly founders, who are too reluctant to “let go.” This article focuses on finding and preparing successors internally.

Based on our observations with clients and coaching assignments, the roots of expressed lack of confidence in naturally assumed successors may have a number of explanations, often distinct from insufficient professional competence including:

  • Personal chemistry between incumbent and potential successor, despite clients or other stakeholder’s satisfaction.
  • Work style or philosophy – Incumbent only feeling comfortable with a clone (often not the best choice).
  • Incumbent wanting to keep the potential successor with clipped wings to continue in a support role to him or her.

Factors around “like” and “trust” as well as discomfort with loss of authority and professional identity are often roadblocks. Here are some approaches to use if the potential successor needs more seasoning or the primary obstacle is an incumbent's inflexible mindset or largely emotional issues.

5 Steps to Address Lack of Confidence in Potential Successors

1 -             Surface what the actual issues are, avoiding stereotyping. Consider conducting workshops and individual coaching on understanding, bridging, and capitalizing on generational differences. Focus not only on the attributes but rather what’s behind them, implications and how to use related strengths.

2 -            Use training in personal behavioral style to bridge gaps (using assessment tools such as DiSC or MBTI). Find commonalities and how to resolve differences 

3 -            Reward leaders and managers for training, coaching and mentoring, and if needed, teach them how to perform in these roles so the professional development that will instill more confidence will occur. Adjust the reward system to a results and merit basis rather than just time expended.

4 -            Give younger professionals, managers and supervisors their own particular responsibilities (their own piece of the action) to prove themselves, have their own niche and the opportunity to shine as they develop their careers.

5 -            Identify those in power that just won’t “let go” and devise strategies to deal with them. In these circumstances, it’s not about the successor.

©  Phyllis Weiss Haserot     www.pdcounsel.com

 Please send your thoughts to pwhaserot@pdcounsel.com or comment on the Cross-Generational Conversation group on LinkedIn.





Currently overall about 70% of leaders and managers are male - mostly Baby Boomers and the older half of Gen X. The agitating about Millennials within organizations and in the media attracts a lot of attention, and most of the focus is on ways to 'fix' them or appease them rather than reconsider work practices, succession planning and knowledge transfer and the influence of compensation plans.

A Board Briefing from Richard Chaplin of Managing Partner in the UK on gender parity inspired me to create a checklist of recommended practices for an equally important and challenging issue: to guide decision-makers at all levels toward inclusiveness of all generations and development of younger leaders for a more profitable and stable workforce and a sustainable future.

Current and aspiring leaders have a pivotal role in implementing changes to achieve a more engaged and profitable work environment. Best practices involve the following changed approaches and positive actions:

  1. Monitor meetings closely for potential generational bias. Think about ways to ensure that people of all generations are being heard. Be aware and open to the likelihood that they might express themselves differently.
  2. Mentor and sponsor younger generations not only by providing advice but also by encouraging them to undertake developmental assignments.
  3. Make sure that you showcase young talent for their expertise and leadership skills.
  4. Watch your language! Monitor how you and others speak about and to all generations. Check which metaphors and adjectives are used and consider alternative language.
  5. Concerning hiring and promotion decisions, keep in mind that assumptions are not always correct - check yours and alert others to check theirs.
  6. Demonstrate support for associates, for instance, by attending group meetings, and taking responsibility for multi-generational inclusion.
  7. Talk about commitments from outside your work and how they will affect your work as well as how you handle time management. They seek guidance on balancing their work lives and finding opportunities to network and contribute to the greater good. This will be just as important to the next generation coming up.

Reserve a few minutes every day to reflect on the impact of intergenerational relations. Did you or others experience or notice any tension? What went well? What would you have done differently? How can you change things for the better for your firm and individual careers?  Please send your thoughts my way.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot   www.pdcounsel.com

DON’T FOCUS ON ONE GENERATION: The Business Case for Multi-GENgagement

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I’ll be blunt: Building your talent strategy primarily around one generation is a big mistake!

As the new and “radical” kids on the block, the large Gen Y/Millennial cohort has captured the attention of the ever-growing contingent of media, both social and traditional. Much of the coverage is misleading. One of the aims in my work is to provide context and perspective to the generational mix we have today and going forward and emphasize the necessity for more cross-generational conversation and collaboration by making the business case for doing so.

It is a mistake to go overboard focusing on Millennials (also known as Gen Ys) and ignore the needs and contributions of the still vital Boomers and Gen Xers. And beginning to learn about the Gen Zers soon to fill the pipeline for future planning is also very important. We already have evidence that they are different from the Millennials in significant ways. Laser-focusing resources and work processes on what Millennials want and need will leave you unprepared for other generations’ different views and behaviors and how to use them together to competitive advantage.

So, firms need to take a cross-generational approach – a multi-generational initiative that proves they have the flexibility to shift with agility as warranted to new perspectives and approaches without causing inter-generational resentments and exits from the organization.

Why? To avoid lurching from one direction to another and create an integrated, sustainable culture and business model.

Once explained, the business case for cross-generational strategy and collaboration is clear and compelling. It’s all about producing a continuous flow of revenue, avoiding loss of clients and turnover costs by maximizing the firm’s ability to:

  • Attract and retain clients and business alliances of different generations;
  • Attract and retain new talent of different generations to minimize undesirable turnover and its considerable dollar and time costs;
  • Transfer knowledge among the generations so skills and relationships stay at the firm;
  • Achieve effective succession planning for all critical roles to sustain client relationships; and
  • Avoid discrimination litigation and damage to reputation.

The challenge is to get members of all the generations in an organization into the same room with open minds. Let them get to know and understand each other and commit to ongoing dialogue. A 5% increase in employee engagement will generate an increase of 3% in revenue growth in the following year, according to a recent Aon Hewitt study. Isn’t that well worth the time and effort?

 pwhaserot@pdcounsel.com      www.pdcounsel.com



Recently I attended a panel on Millennials at which the moderator posed the question to the audience, ”Can Perspective be taught?” “How?” She said she had no answer.

The answer seems fairly obvious to me – simple, but not easy: Make time both informally and organically as well as in periodic planned occasions to converse, dialogue, and share revealing stories among the generations to create understanding of why and how attitudes and behaviors were formed.

The younger generations don’t generally have the perspective to appreciate the positive changes the Boomers accomplished and what our society and business world was like before. We have to teach that better so they understand and are aware of what they could stand to lose.

It’s not just about younger people learning from older and more experienced colleagues. Equally important is the reverse – that older, longer tenured colleagues and stakeholders learn perspective from the younger ones. I am referring to the value of understanding how different people see the world, what they view as new markets and skills for the future, and what it looks like to them to never know what things were like before.

This cross-generational conversation lays the foundation for more understanding, empathy and working out solutions together rather than holding on to rigid opinions that criticize without possibility of useful solutions.

One reason I find the negative things I hear about one generation or another frustrating is that often behavior that’s criticized became a habit because no one told the “perpetrator” what’s wrong with it and why. That is not something that should be left to shaming on social media, an action that doesn’t solve anything.

When I pointed out after the panel discussion that cross-generational conversation can make a significant difference, the moderator who raised the question of whether perspective can be taught responded that the young people (in this case) might listen but they don’t change their behavior. Well, that’s not been my experience if the conversation is carried on with a non-judgmental tone.

Here are 5 Tips for Teaching Perspective:

  • Check your attitude. Refrain from being judgmental.
  • Use a neutral tone of voice. Don’t lecture. Assume a friendly demeanor and an open mind for discussion.
  • Explain in the context of a conversation you are having. Be concrete. Tell a story with a meaningful outcome.
  • Don’t be defensive if there is pushback. Explain that you want to better understand each other.
  • If the learning doesn’t appear to be happening, try again later with another story or approach.

It may take a few repetitions and illustrative stories, but gradually it sticks. If not, the individual is just not open to learning, and that can be manifest at any age.

The alternative is continued frustration and less than optimum productivity or performance. Let’s face it, those are the people you have to work with. So unless you get off on just being able to claim you are right…give the conversation a try.

Please comment and share your thoughts and experiences. How do you deal with teaching perspective?

Phyllis Weiss Haserot     www.pdcounsel.com


What Business Can Learn About Millennials from the S.F.49ers


I am a much bigger baseball fan than football fan, but I found an article about how the San Francisco 49ers changed their operating approach with their Gen Y/Millennial players fascinating and drew some lessons for other industries from it.

The average age of 49ers players is 25.2 years old, so the coaching staff was facing a “force” as daunting as their opposing teams. Managing Millennials was such a challenge that the new head coach Jim Tomsula consulted with Stanford University researchers and ad executives for answers to capturing the attention of the "young brain."

Here are changes to operations and training the team instituted that can provide insights for other industries with largely Millennial staff.

  • Meetings changed from a typical 2 hours to 30 minute blocks of meeting time each followed by 10 minute breaks to allow for turning attention to their smartphones.
  • Enhanced digital playbooks with video clips
  • Weekly briefings on social media
  • Sending alerts to players’ calendars instead of a printed schedule.
  • Practice tapes that can be downloaded to tablets before meetings
  • New teaching styled that get to the point quickly


  • Culture change from paper to electronic
  • Coaches learned a lot about tech from the players, including weekly meetings on new apps, etc.
  • No one has missed meetings
  • Instant information enabling advance preparation for meetings
  • Some of the go-go players don’t want to take the 10-minute breaks when offered. They are so into the learning that they want to keep going as fast as they can.

Which of these tactics could you adapt for your business? Please comment and let us know.

[An article on this topic was reported in the Wall Street Journal by Kevin Clark 6/17/15.]

Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com




Most of us would like to feel we have made a difference.

Working on a client engagement that included the challenges of transitioning planning for partners in their early 60s, I developed a series of “legacy exercises” focused on work legacy. Ideally everyone by age 50 should be thinking about legacy. 

Starting earlier is even better, as it helps to create a career vision of meaningful work. Perhaps sadly, often busy people tend not to think about legacy till later when they must try to make up for lost time. Legacy is about more than end of life and who to leave money to. It is about work, family, friends, causes, mentoring – what one passes on to the next generations and peers in as broad a sense as you would like to think about it. Primarily it is about values and about continual learning for you and others.

Here are some questions you might start thinking about as an individual or a team.

  • What do you want to be remembered for wherever you are working now? By your clients? by your colleagues? In the context or your role or roles in the organization?
  • What do you want to be remembered for in your community?
  • What would you like to pass on to the next generations – people you work with or know in other capacities?
  • What do you want to be remembered for in general as a person?
  • What can you start to do now or change now to be able to achieve that legacy?

Building legacy can be one of the most fulfilling things you can do in your life. And not only that, it outlives you and, in a way, keeps you present when you are no longer there.

Contact me to learn about our Legacy-Makers Mastermind groups and to receive a free list of “Tips for Building a Legacy at Work.”

Phyllis Weiss Haserot   www.pdcounsel.com



I was asked why, with the coming leadership gap as Baby Boomers gradually “retire,” younger generations don’t seek top positions. Really, they don’t? Here are some thoughts.

First, several surveys in the last year have indicated that there are major gaps in what employers think they need and how they are evaluating candidates. The surveys often contradict each other, so it’s hard to know what the real deal is. Also, young workers think employers are not making use of their talents to a significant degree, and they think they could be much more valuable.

Succession planning is so challenging because few organizations have been taking serious steps to do it at various levels and consider potential leaders who are not similar to the current and former leaders. Generation X, the natural place to look for leadership now by age and experience, has been pretty much overlooked in many ways in the marketplace in favor of attention to the much larger and vocal but younger Gen Y/Millennials.


For those who were not yet working or have forgotten, when Gen Xers were the youngest generation at work, many said they didn’t want the top spots and were labeled “slackers.” Since then they have been working hard and aspire to leadership. They have been frustrated suffering with the “Prince Charles syndrome,” waiting for the Boomers to finally hand over the reins. Gen X is ready.


My experience and research suggests that Gen Y/Millennials do want to lead and occupy top positions. However, many Millennials are turned off by the cultures typically find in organizations. What they say in every survey is they want training, opportunity to advance, do meaningful work (doesn’t everyone?) and to have an impact. They also want to change the structure of how work is done to fit today’s requirements and capitalize on technological resources they feel comfortable with. If they get heard and get responsibility to make change, like their Boomer parents, they will stay and step up to the plate to lead. Otherwise they are motivated to move on.

Meanwhile the leadership gap in the near future will be ably filled by Gen Xers with the support of Baby Boomers, if both of those generations are treated respectfully and made to feel continually valued for what they can contribute. It’s not so complicated. If anyone of any generation is disrespected, made to feel needlessly obsolete and not fitting a preconceived mold, they are likely to be disengaged or uncooperative or less productive than either they or the employer wants them to be. 

Phyllis Weiss Haserot     www.pdcounsel.com



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            For years one of the primary ways to call attention to a diversity issue and to build strength for a specific “minority” group has been to create an “affinity group.” The group would aim to build networks, confidence, and educate both members and other stakeholders outside the group. I believe that once a certain level of awareness is created, the separateness approach stands in the way of, or slows, progress in achieving desired goals. We can achieve much more progress collapsing the gaps reinforced by silos and forming alliances and coalitions to expand true opportunity and equity together

Let’s take serious efforts to break down the silo walls and ally generations, gender, race/ethnicity, LGBTQ, differently-abled and other identified affinities. That doesn’t mean getting rid of affinity groups entirely, as they still serve useful purposes. I would prefer to see them as collaborators that can plan to ease themselves out of existence as the need declines.

Some corporations have seen the light, particularly around gender.

Here are examples of specific actions toward gender inclusion:

  • A consultancy, White Men As Full Diversity Partners LLC, coaches men to shift mindsets and behaviors to achieve a more inclusive work culture. Catalyst’s initiative gets men to recognize the influence of unconscious bias on the workplace and has used this group for their programs.
  • National Association of Female Executives (NAFE) included men for the first time at its meeting in December 2014, and men pledged to urge male colleagues to champion women. First actions were around mentoring. Historically men have feared being criticized or stigmatized for helping women get ahead. And even some women resent the help as making them look inferior.
  • At Cardinal Health, significant numbers of men have been attending the women’s networking group. The sales manager hopes his active recruitment of internal women for promotions will lead to more sales.
  • Rockwell Automation Inc. has developed “change inclusion teams mostly run by white men aimed toward accelerating retention and advancement of women and minorities. These have changed the nature of company socializing events for employees at the company or conferences.
  • American Express has instituted a mandatory one-time course for one division’s senior management on how men’s and women’s brains work differently and affect decision-making about going for promotions. Women now get more ongoing support both in seeking and after promotions.
  • A Dell male VP now tries to be conscious of how scheduling affects opportunities and has joined the women’s network, encouraging male colleagues to do so also.

These are good steps toward more gender equality. We need to see breaking down the silos between other diverse affinity groups as well. Generational collaboration is a great place to start since different generational attitudes inform and influence attitudes about other aspects of diversity and inclusion and individuals’ worldviews. Generations are the universal affinity.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com





In the month of Love (Valentines Day) and Leadership (Presidents Day), I am making a pitch for breaking down silos and creating a coalition on inclusion and true opportunity.

A primary reason dealing with intergenerational challenges at work is so crucial is that not only do they directly affect bottom line revenues, but also they intersect with other diversity factors such as gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation (and much more) that organizations already admit have an impact on their market position, workforce hiring, retention and productivity. 

The big data folks and the politicians know this is true, and realize it is complex. And they are better at crunching the numbers and exhorting than marshalling coalitions to work constructively and productively for change.

I will continue my writing and speaking about breaking down the affinity silos and creating coalitions for inclusion and changing workplace structures in the future. I welcome anyone who is interested to come on board with me (pwhaserot@pdcounsel.com). We can achieve much more progress together.

Stay tuned, send your thoughts and comment here.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com


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