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

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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

Results:

  • 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

CAN WE HELP THE WOMEN BY HELPING THE MEN?

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A study by professors from Harvard, Boston University and Florida State University concluded that the problem with work is longer and longer hours, and that family-friendly policies can have unintended results that especially hurt women’s careers.

“The Problem with Work is Overwork” – Toll on families and gender equalityhttp://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/31/upshot/the-24-7-work-cultures-toll-on-families-and-gender-equality.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0&abt=0002&abg=1

In-depth interviews with employees of a prominent global consulting firm that had asked the researchers to recommend what they could do to decrease the number of women who quit and increase the number who were promoted found that men were at least as likely as women to say the long hours interfered with their family lives. And the men quit at the same rate as women. But men and women dealt with the long hours pressure in different ways.

To quote the New York Times article about the study, “The researchers said that when they told the consulting firm they had diagnosed a bigger problem than a lack of family-friendly policies for women — that long hours were taking a toll on both men and women — the firm rejected that conclusion. The firm’s representatives said the goal was to focus only on policies for women, and that men were largely immune to these issues.”

Clearly that firm (and many others) do not want to address the culture of overwork.

Perhaps if we as a society help the men by rejecting and abandoning the stereotypes and expectations about men’s commitment and roles regarding work and family, it will also substantially benefit women and gender equality.

Please share your thoughts.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot   www.pdcounsel.com

YOUNGER #GENERATIONS DON’T SEEK TOP POSITIONS? What’s Up?

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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.

BACKSTORY

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.

HOW TO EXPLAIN GEN Y AMBITION

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

 

BREAKING DOWN GENDER AND GENERATIONAL SILOS

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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

END SILOS: THE CASE FOR A COALITION ON INCLUSION AND TRUE OPPORTUNITY

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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

 

SURVEYS EXPLODE MYTHS RE: GEN Y’S WORK AMBITIONS

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Data is exploding 2 myths about Gen YMillennials and work.

One is that they all (OK, a large % of them) want to be entrepreneurs, that is, have their own business. The actual numbers reported (by Lindsay Gellman in the Wall Street Journal, 1/14/15) find otherwise.

The proportion of young adults (under age 30) owning a business in the U.S. was 3.6% in 2014. This has fallen from 10.6 in1989 and 6/3% in 2010 according to Federal Reserve data. It can partially be explained by the recent poor economy and difficulty in getting both funding and work experience, but not all of it. Both the risk adversity of the generation and lack of education focusing on entrepreneurism in high school and earlier probably contribute to this outcome, so some programs are starting to be offered in some high schools in the U.S.

The myth is that members of the Gen Y generation aren’t interested in climbing the corporate ladder in established companies and desire doing “meaningful work” rather than scale the hierarchy.

A survey of over 7,800 workers born in 1983 or more recently in developed and emerging markets countries by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd. found that only about 25% felt that their current employer makes full use of their skills. Is the employer just missing out? Or are the employees overestimating their capabilities or misjudging the needs of the business or the market?  Clearly there is a disconnect that has to be diagnosed and addressed.

Interestingly, nearly 65% of respondents in Colombia and Indonesia aspire to the corner office compared with only 38% overall in the developed countries surveyed. Does the environment in poorer countries motivate higher aspirations? Are employees in more developed countries more complacent, or do they want a less demanding lifestyle than the C-Suite offers? Or do they simply want the employers to change?

There is also a gender gap. While 59% of young men aspire to lead their company, only 47% of women in the surveyed countries do. True to the meaningful work mantra, 60% of young workers seek to work for employers with a sense of purpose. The most desirable industries for this group in their 20s and early 30s are technology, media and communications, while they were attracted to life-science companies for those companies’ sense of purpose.

There is also a gender gap. While 59% of young men aspire to lead their company, only 47% of women in the surveyed countries do. True to the meaningful work mantra, 60% of young workers seek to work for employers with a sense of purpose. The most desirable industries for this group in their 20s and early 30s are technology, media and communications, while they were attracted to life-science companies for those companies’ sense of purpose.

The survey findings raise many questions and provide much to contemplate. Please share your thoughts.

 Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com

 

BIGGEST MISTAKES BY LEADERS RE: ADDRESSING SUCCESSION PLANNING

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The mistakes and misconceptions fall into 4 categories:

  • Timing

          Not starting early enough to identify and groom successors

          Not allowing sufficient time for overlap and transfer of responsibilities

  • Role behavior analysis

         Looking for a clone

         Not involving younger generations in creating a vision

         Considering the biggest business generators to be the best leadership material

         Undervaluing interpersonal skills and coaching for new leaders and successors

         Lack of transparency

  • Client involvement

        When the role is a client/customer-facing role:

          Not soliciting client views on what makes good leaders and managers

          Not asking what the client wants most in a relationship

          Not involving the client in the transitioning process

  • Not being inclusive

          Not inviting input from all generations of stakeholders

          Not making criteria known

          Undervaluing diversity in all its aspects

©  Phyllis Weiss Haserot  2007.  Revised 2015.

    pwhaserot@pdcounsel.com    www.pdcounsel.com 

SLICING AND DICING THE BOOMER GENERATION and the workplace implications

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Here’s an illustration of what we mean when we say the generational cohorts are defined by “formational Influences.” And we need to look beyond “convenient” Census Bureau definitions by birth year.

Humorist P.J. O’Rourke turned to his Boomer generation (he’s an older cohort Boomer born in 1947) for a book, The Baby Boom: How It Got that Way (And It Wasn’t My Fault). In an article for AARP magazine he drew on interviews with Late Boomers and other observations to distinguish between the ends of the Boomer generation. The older half he calls the “loudest” generation. Many of he younger segment are quieter, more conservative, have no memory of Woodstock, and have considerably different formative (political, social, economic and cultural) influences according to Pew Research Center findings. They constitute one-quarter of the Boomer population. 

O’Rourke claims to have lived all the stereotypically wild, “let it all hang out” experiences of Boomers and wrote “These youngsters turning 50 are a mystery to me.”

While he took a light-hearted approach, his examination of the subject reinforces the significant point that the typical definition of the Boomers needs to be sliced and diced for a more accurate view of their general attributes (true also of Gen X and Gen Y). And even members of a typically defined generation need the insights gained through cross-generational conversation - within their own generation! 

In some ways the late Boomers more resemble the older Gen Xers: more individualistic and transformed from a (likely misinformed) slacker reputation to become very serious. O’Rourke wrote that the late Boomers are “like the quiet youngest child in a big family of older siblings. They grew up in the baby boom universe and take it for granted. They may not know there was ever another cosmos.” The older Boomers were born into the world of what we now consider “inappropriate behavior and wrongheaded social norms (as portrayed in “Mad Men”). And the older Boomers destroyed it utterly,” wrote O’Rourke.

So what does this mid-generation transformation mean for workplace succession planning? What kinds of conversations need to take place between older and younger Boomers?

  • Will the Late Boomers and Early Xers feel for urgency to go beyond vocal expression of beliefs and act tenaciously on them?
  • Will they make significant strides to change work cultures and policies to sufficiently satisfy Gen Y/Millennilals before the latter succeed in pushing them out of their way?
  • Who will initiate meaningful and ongoing cross—generational conversation?

Phyllis Weiss Haserot   www.pdcounsel.com

INVOLVE YOUNGER GENERATIONS IN SUCCESSION PLANNING

To achieve long-term success, it is extremely important to align succession planning with the strategic focus of the organization. Too often firms are not clear on their strategic focus, succession planning or both. Further, when these are undertaken, many important stakeholders are left out of the process. Organizations need to think in terms of both generational and other diversity challenges – two of the most difficult challenges in business continuity because both are totally human challenges.  These types of internal issues may also relate to client needs and preferences, so they can’t be ignored.

A Role for Younger Generations

The crucial alignment of the generations with organizational objectives will require a greater focus on people at all levels, a greater representation of all ages and types of diversity, and a greater effort to harness the wisdom and institutional memory of the senior professionals and executives – all this while capturing the hearts and imagination of the best mid-level and junior-level people that the firm has.

Most people think that succession planning is a top-down activity involving management and seasoned professionals. I strongly suggest that it is better to involve the younger generations as well so they can help create a vision for what the organization aspires to and for what it is looking for in long-term leadership – looking forward, not backward to a world that no longer exists. In order to retain the most talented young people, they must have a voice.

If you think of succession planning as a continual process, one way to involve the younger generations in the firm is to hold at least periodic meetings with junior employees (professionals and staff), invite them to ask questions, and encourage their input. By tapping into the collective wisdom at all levels they will learn a lot about what can make their firms more successful and what professional attributes and skills the organization needs to continue developing.

The younger personnel have a longer future ahead of them, and they see and experience the world in different ways. By engaging them in this ongoing dialogue, the firm will be more likely to retain the best talent.

At the same time, management should also be looking for leadership qualities among the younger generations. They need to encourage and allow junior people a chance to volunteer and take on responsibility for significant internal projects. In that way, they can prove themselves beyond mere technical competency. That initiative must be recognized in a way that is meaningful to both junior and senior personnel.

 Phyllis Weiss Haserot   www.pdcounsel.com

Note: This article contains excerpts from Chapter 34 of The Rainmaking Machine by Phyllis Weiss Haserot (Thomson Reuters, 2014 edition.)

PERKS, BENEFITS, MOTIVATION AND WHAT PEOPLE WANT

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Following in Facebook’s footsteps, Apple Inc. is about to start “selling” something new. The latest announcement from Apple is getting as much attention in some quarters as the latest iPhones and iPads. Steve Jobs might even approve, since the newest perk or benefit (choose your term), also made possible by technology, seems aimed at making it easier for women to stay working longer when they are likely to be most productive and reproductive.

I am referring to the new policy of offering to pay up to $20,000 for the expensive medical procedure for women to freeze some of their eggs in the hope of achieving pregnancy at a later date. I have raised the subject of pros, cons and motivations on social media. My purpose here is not to debate that, but rather to get us thinking about what benefits or perks people of different generations want, what the employers’ motivations for offering them are, and whether the offerings really motivate people to higher performance, retention and loyalty. 

The Apple announcement quickly generated articles in major business media (New York Times and Forbes, for example and TV political talk shows)) about the specific egg freezing perk and what could be downsides of generous perks as well. But none I saw looked at the perks and benefits issues from a generational perspective.

Benefits that appeal to all generations include, among others, employer paid health insurance, free or subsidized food, on-site or paid gym memberships, concierge services and flexible work arrangements. 

Those only directly benefiting younger workers include paid maternity and paternity leave, freezing eggs, on-site and emergency childcare.

Baby Boomers, though they tend to have better attendance records, likely use their health insurance more and may have higher premiums associated with the policies. They also may make more use of benefits that cover time off or other expenses to care for elderly parents, as might older Gen Xers.

These are life cycle realities not tied to any currently labeled generation.  And in fairness, no generation should be discriminated against because of demographic and biological factors. Yet there often are stigmas or resentments related to costs of benefits, offering of perks and finger pointing across the members of multigenerational workforces. Older workers may resent that younger ones are now getting flexible work arrangements and childcare they would have loved to have, and instead they had to struggle through on their own while trying to build careers. Younger workers might argue that health care costs are higher for older workers.

Workers may wonder if some of the generous employer perks come from a stealth motivation since they can lead to the trap of working 24/7 rather than giving the workers more control over their lives. For instance, taking advantage of free or low-cost meals and various concierge services on site discourages taking breaks to reduce stress, walks for exercise and time for useful reflection.

The benefits and perks have been shown to help attract and retain people in the talent wars. However, there has been little evidence that they motivate people to work better and harder. Especially competitive people want recognition of their achievements rather than some of the perks and only team recognition.

People of all generations welcome benefits and perks and won’t turn them down. But motivations come from another source. Here are some things that motivate – generalized to generations:

Boomers

Opportunities to keep learning and contributing

Being made to feel continually relevant

Making role transitions respected and appropriately compensated.

Gen X

Recognition of individual achievements

Opening paths to leadership slots

Opportunity to do things their way

Gen Y/Millennials

Having their ideas listened to

Being shown how their role is important to the whole

Providing frequent new learning experiences

For most people the above connect to intrinsic motivations – the strongest and most lasting kind – more than the latest shiny perk. Firms/organizations need to get a better grasp on what really appeals in a deeper way to the talent they covet and pursue that path.

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

Phyllis Weiss Haserot      www.pdcounsel.com  

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