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Good news for the younger generation? Does this explain high salaries large firms pay to inexperienced law school grads?

As reported by the Wall Street Journal (7.25.12) a study by Stanford and Harvard scholars that consisted of 8 experiments with people in a wide variety of settings found they get more excited about individuals with promise and potential than they do about those with an actual proven performance record. Further, people are more willing to hire and pay more for the individuals with high potential.

The researchers could only speculate as to why this is so, but the findings were consistent.

Is uncertainty more appealing, the gamble that the high potential individual will achieve greatness? What do you think?



#generations. You know Gen Y Athletes are serious about social media when they only respond to scouts/college coaches by Facebook and Twitter, not phones. ”Coaches New Friends



Here are a few great questions I intend to add to my *Next Generation, Next Destination* transitioning planning coaching. They come from a New York Times interview with Kathy Savitt, CEO of Lockerz, a social network and e-commerce site. She asks these questions in a job interview to candidates for her company, but I think they are also valuable exercises to do for oneself or with a coach.

 The questions are:

  • If you could design your life in terms of work, what would that job actually be?
  • If you could take 100% of your abilities and create a job description, what would it look like?
  • If everyone here was a CEO and you could be CEO of something from Day One, what would it be?

 Take some time and think about how and what you would answer, even just for yourself, and to be ready in case anyone does give you a chance to articulate what you are really passionate about doing. It could be something you are already doing or something you have never done. Once you can describe it, you could be on your way to creating it.

 Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com



I am frequently asked whether the severe recession of the last few years and still very much with us will change the perceived attitudes and behaviors (e.g., optimism, neediness, “entitlement”) of Gen Y/Millennials.

Let’s go through a checklist of typical attributes of this large and fascinating generation. This checklist, which I compiled in 2006) still holds true and is still valuable for recruiting and retention efforts.

      Demanding, confident, opinionated; expect to be heard, crave feedback.

      Achievement-oriented – and want a roadmap upfront to preclude failure.

      Like structure and clear rules – will want detailed descriptions of assignments and timetables for responsibilities and promotions.

      Expect a great deal of attention, individual counseling, mentoring, feedback and regular performance reviews.

      Accustomed to working in groups, teamwork and collaboration.

      May be so collaborative and dependent on crowdsourcing that they are weak in independent and critical thinking and individual leadership.

      Tend to be transparent about sharing information (including about compensation).

      Expect use of the latest tech tools in order to reach them.

      Despite their proclivity to job hop (as Gen X did), they are looking for security, stability, good retirement plans, health insurance and other benefits.

      Extraordinary focus on work/life balance by both men and women – pursuit of flexibility without career sacrifice.

      Need to see the value and relevance of their jobs clearly.

      Want diverse experiences. Expect change.

      Demonstrate a strong commitment to social responsibility. (Many have been happy with the opportunity to work in non-profits even for lower salaries – except for the inability to reduce education debt.)

      Rely on parents for advice frequently - and some “helicopter parents” hover (or meddle with employers).

      Behave as sophisticated consumers. They want to know more about employers, culture, what it’s really like to work there. They want more dialogue and are introspective about their choices.

      Always have felt sought after and needed – until the current recession.

      Have higher expectations than any generation before. (This is likely to have been shaken in the last few years.)

Do these characteristics and behaviors ring true to you?

What changes are you seeing since the deep recession and horrendous job market?


Please share your thoughts and opinions.


(c) Phyllis Weiss Haserot  www.pdcounsel.com


To find out firsthand what Generation Y/Millennials want and expect from the workplace and employers, Human Resources Executive magazine (February 2010 issue) held a roundtable discussion with a group of Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania) seniors. The seven students, class of 2010, have had work experience and internships to draw experience and articulately express opinions from. Here is a summary.

Attributes of an Employer of Choice

Stimulating office culture; Positive impact on the world; Genuineness

Ideal Level of Job Feedback

Direct communication and feedback constantly - a two-way street; Feeling the supervisor is actually invested in the employee; Feeling comfortable giving feedback to a supervisor; Regularly scheduled meetings when total attention is given with all external communication turned off

Significant Learning from Internships

Importance of office politics; I may not be as valued as I expected, but rather am being used as a means to an end; Often not given the "big picture," which would have helped me to contribute more, but people are



n      The  counterpart to succession preparation as we experience an aging workplace is another forecast: Employers Will Accommodate Older Workers Like Never Before. Employers need to get the work done; many workers, including successful professionals and executives, want to keep going whether or not they really need the additional money to live comfortably. The Herman Group suggests that employers will see the benefit of avoiding recruiter fees and expensive contract help by bringing back their retired personnel on part-time, seasonal or temporary bases, even if the older workers can dictate their own terms. I can envision organizations hiring their former personnel with knowledge no one else would have to the same degree or dissuading them from going elsewhere for the typical “busy seasons” or employing them for training and coaching the next generation to continue top service to clients.


      This will require sensitivity in communication to younger workers about the benefits to them and facilitation of cross-generational dialogue within work teams and mentor partnerships. But it sounds like a win-win for many organizations seeking continuity  of client service and culture.


        Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com


What’s needed at this economically challenging time according to Jeffrey Swartz, president and CEO of the Timberland Company in the New York Times Sunday Business Corner Office column (Dec. 20, 2009)?


People need to bring their personal selves to work – (not meaning an invasion of privacy). In his words,”A willingness to be exposed, a willingness to acknowledge and value the personal dimension.”


Swartz said there’s no chance in these economic times that a company “is going to be able to reinvent itself, with the speed and ease that it needs to, unless we bring more than our intellects to the table”. In hiring, he said he’s got to find “people who are comfortable with fuzzy logic, who are comfortable being exposed, who are comfortable being wrong, who don’t value as the first notion, ‘I got the answer, Boss.’”


He sums up what he is looking for as: 1) comfort with ambiguity; 2) faith in a solution; and 3) a commitment to fight for a worthy outcome.


If you are a leader, are you looking for this make-up in your hires? Do you appreciate the mission-committed risk-takers? And allow them to be wrong sometimes without rebuke?


If you are aspiring to take on meaningful, game-changing work, are you willing to reveal what really matters to you and fight for it?


Phyllis Weiss Haserot          www.pdcounsel.com


I have written frequently before about a looming Generation X leadership gap. Still another survey indicates that employers and employees are not on the same page about talent management and retention.

Research by Deloitte Consulting in a survey report released in August 2009, "Keeping Your Team Intact: A Special Report of Talent Retention"  finds that Gen X employees have the highest intention to leave their current jobs of the three most prevalent generations in the workplace after the recession is over. Those saying they are likely to stay: 37% of Gen Xers surveyed; 44% of Gen Yers; and 50% of Boomers. Yet only 9% of employers think Gen Xers are likely to leave when the recession ends. From the time they entered the workplace, Gen Xers typically had more of a freelance mentality than other generations, so their intention is not surprising.

The reasons for intended leaving also differ between employees and management expectations. Employers ranked "excessive workload" as the #2 barrier to retaining employees, but it was only ranked 10th by employees. The latter's chief factor for shifting employers was lack of job security. They ranked "lack of trust in leadership" as the 6th most important reason for leaving, but employers ranked it considerably lower. Gen Xers typically have lower trust in leadership and authority than other generations.

Gen Xers ranked "additional bonuses or financial incentives" as the most effective retention tactic (48%), while only 37% of corporate leaders saw it as the highest priority. Only 40% of Boomers ranked bonuses and financial incentives as the most effective tactic.

These findings again raise the red flag of a potential leadership deficit among the next generation to step into the Boomer leaders' shoes as they eventually leave the workplace. Gen X is a much smaller generation than either the Boomers or Gen Y/Millennials; many Gen Xers have a considerably smaller appetite for taking on the heavy, time-consuming responsibilities the Boomers were willing - even eager - to shoulder.

The potential gap has been masked by the recession. But as we come out of it, the urgency of planning for and training Gen X leaders will become increasingly apparent and urgent. Those firms that neglect this and take a short-term view will likely come up short in desired talent and needed leadership. It's time now to seriously examine how to keep an prepare those best able to lead the workforce of the future.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot   www.pdcounsel.com


A new book catching the attention of Generation Y is "Recruit or Die" by Ramit Sethi, Chris Resto and Ian Ybarra. The authors cite Goldman Sachs, McKinsey and Microsoft as the gold-standard for recruiting because they have done considerable research and given deep thought to what is a successful recruit for their firms and how to attract the candidates that fill that bill. This bears attention from professional firm management and partners as well as the recruiters. Most firms are still in the dark ages following an unproven path that has long resulted in wasted time and money and is likely to be more deleterious if continued in the pursuit of Generation Y employees.

Ryan Healy gave a rave review in his blog post on Employee Evolution and points out why he thinks the authors are "spot on." Healy says his favorite quote from the book is "You can take the 'When I was your age' approach, dismiss their expectations as delusions of entitlement, and go about recruiting them as if they should feel lucky to work for you and have a chance to pay their dues for a while. Or, you can embrace this new paradigm and appeal to their aspirations."  This comes from a section called "Young and Confused, but Absolutely Certain."

I think it's becoming clear that in order to not only recruit, but equally important, retain potential Gen Y stars, firms, their professional recruiters and whoever is managing the new entrants to the workplace will need to appeal to their aspirations and tie them to the firm's strategic vision. A clear connection needs to be drawn along with projected milestones to meet expectations.

I would say the same regarding the next generation of partners that firms want to prepare to transition effectively into the responsibilities and roles of the leading edge Baby Boomers. They also see the world differently and will not accept running things as they have always been run. Culture change will happen by design or default. I would choose change by design. How about you?

Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com

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