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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



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



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




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




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 

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