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10 PROBLEMS WITH THE CURRENT DESIGN OF WORK

Each generation’s view of work and how it will best engage them and motivate them to be most productive has changed. But the design of work and work processes has not changed adequately with the times. From surveys, observations and discussions, here are the key issues I see:

  • Neglecting to make work continually perceived as meaningful to workers.
  • Not providing opportunities for all to learn and grow.
  • Recognition and feedback not closely timed and aligned to the event.
  • Metrics that are counter to goals and motivation, e.g., time-based rather than results-based.
  • Uniform facetime demands without rational reasons for them.
  • People showing lack of respect or not understanding what respect of others requires.
  • Differing and unclear definitions of professionalism.
  • Not encouraging input on work design and process from all participants: generations and levels.
  • Hierarchical titles that divide rather than include and encourage collaboration.
  • Not considering who wants and who doesn’t want more challenge and increased responsibility in their work so they are appropriately motivated.

In future posts I will suggest strategies and steps to redesign work so it will work better for all generations.

Please add or comment on other problems you see – or those above that you don’t think are problems. Let’s have a conversation on this significant issue ripe for change.

WHAT REWARDS DRIVE EACH GENERATION

A recent study conducted by Harris/Decima for Ceridian) found that job rewards of various types favored by different generations are a strong driver of engagement. The three top drivers overall are:

1 – receiving monetary or non-monetary rewards for a job well done (47%)

2 – job recognition (42%)

3 – job motivation (11%)

 What specific employees value must align with the rewards to be effective. Rewards must be tailored to consider generational differences, individual preferences and technological innovation. There are several types of popular non-monetary rewards, and Gen Y/Millennials are more interested in them than the other generations. 70% of Gen Yers in the survey said they would like their company to offer non-monetary rewards such: as personal days off: free meals: sports events, concert and show tickets.

 Fundamentally, employers need to know what employees think makes a job worthwhile. All generations want interesting work (39%), autonomy (32%) and good compensation (31%) but in differing order of priority. Interesting work ranks first for Gen Y and Boomers. Gen X is most interested in good salary followed by good job benefits.

 Generational opinions of what makes the job more rewarding also differed in how they ranked the top four overall. Boomers find training opportunities and flexible hours more rewarding; Gen Xers also most favor flexible hours; and Gen Yers are more likely to want the opportunity to take o more responsibility at work.

 This is a heads up for employers to take into account generational differences and wants and needs if they want to have more productive workforces, retain their people and be considered best places to work.

 Phyllis Weiss Haserot   www.pdcounsel.com  

THE 8 STRONGEST DEMOTIVATORS

We are moving toward favoring more transparent, participatory leadership and management styles. Results of a study by the National Federation of Independent Business revealed these as the top demotivators to employees and co-workers. My brief commentary follows each on the list.

Micromanagement is #1 – Particularly hated by Generations X and Y/Millennials

Public criticism – Not only offensive to all, but discourages anything not deemed “safe”

Implied threats – Be direct and honest

Failing to provide praise – Demotivates everyone and most craved by Gen Y

Not explaining your actions – Discourages trust; people want transparency

Not following up – Why bother? Is the item/task not important?

Not sharing company data –The call for transparency is growing stronger

Failing to honor creative thinking and problem solving – Why bother?

What else would you add or substitute to the top 10?  Please comment.

 Phyllis Weiss Haserot     www.pdcounsel.com

(WORKFORCE) DISENGAGEMENT BELLS ARE RINGING

What if they all stayed – those 52% of all full-time U.S. workers who said in a new Gallup poll that they are not involved, enthusiastic or committed to their work? And worse, the 18% who are actively disengaged? What if they conveyed their attitude to customers/clients? What if their frustrations caused by differences with managers and work colleagues of different generations meant they had checked out mentally or even undermined their colleagues’ and team’s work?

Obviously that’s bad for morale, but what does it cost? Gallup estimates that due to declines in quality control, lost productivity, turnover and high absenteeism, actively unhappy workers cost the U.S. $450 billion to $550 billion a year. Those are difficult numbers to relate to, but each organization with disengaged workers is likely to be leaving a substantial chunk of change on the table. 

The Gallup stats indicate that women, managers and new hires record higher levels of engagement than other segments of the workforce. Company and team size looks to be one of the best predictors of engagement. Small firms and teams of fewer than 10 people report the most engagement. (Note: Other studies have come to different conclusions about who is more engaged.)

Though age diversity tension factors were not studied in this poll, we’ve observed that inter-generational dynamics are a significant factor too. Differences in attitudes by generation - how one approaches work, demeanor, communication styles and media, perceived work ethic, definitions of teamwork and work-life flexibility  - can and do reduce engagement and productivity in many organizations if not diagnosed and addresse

In fact many polls and studies confirm that generational influences underlie and inform attitudes and opinions on other aspects of diversity and cultural conflict.  Organizations and managers who recognize that, surface the tensions and gaps and adapt workforce friendly methods that facilitate cross-generational conversation and collaboration can emerge as the frontrunners for talent recruitment and retention and great customer relations.  

Wouldn’t you want yours to be one of them?      Please comment.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com

TOO MUCH REALITY? HOW IS THIS HELPFUL?

I admit to avoiding most reality TV shows. (Once in a while my entrepreneurial spirit lures me to “Shark Tank.”) And don’t get me started on how increasingly so much of life is portrayed on the level of a high school popularity contest. But last week a new reality show hit new depths of destructive behavior - “Does Someone Have to Go?” (Thursdays on Fox).

Seemingly part docuseries and part game show format It takes place at various actual small companies where the bosses transfer authority to the workers – who might like that power for a short while. However it soon turns both ugly and heart-rending since the object is to call out their colleagues for pay cuts, demotions and terminations – to lose their jobs for real!

The first episode takes place in a family-owned business where several of the 70 employees are related to the founder, including her husband (the chief executive) her mother (the accountant), her brother and 2 cousins. After reading the NY Times TV review (by Jon Caramanica), I was strangely curious to watch the first episode, and now I’m done with it. The tensions and arguments build along with creeping fear for everyone. Pettiness, misinformation, personal feelings, tensions around age and race – it’s all there dragged out in the open by the bosses remotely broadcast instructions on video to the group called repeatedly to the conference room.

While the seemingly sadistic bosses and TV executives say that no one was forced to participate, a significant number of employees at various levels did, whether from ego, narcissism or fear of declining. While I am not going to watch the conclusion of the first company’s experience, it is pretty clear the outcome will not be happily ever after. As the Times reviewer put it, they “run the risk of conflict, humiliation, and possibly, unemployment…to say nothing of whatever long-term internal damage is done to the company for choosing to unearth all its buried tensions in such a public arena.”

How does one justify this – at any time and particularly when jobs are hard to come by? Can you imagine this sort of exercise achieving an increase in engagement, productivity and morale? Please comment and share your thoughts.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com

ENTITLED TO MOVE UP VS. THE OPPORTUNITY TO PROVE YOURSELF WORTHY

Ilene Gordon was given the challenge at age 32 by a mentor to manage a group of people more than 20 years older. The challenge for this executive several years out of business school was to get the best out of them, to motivate and inspire them.

From this experience, she learned the philosophy of putting people in jobs where they had to stretch, jobs they were not ready for at the time, from this mentor who realized she was smart, analytical and focused and needed greater challenges. Now in her position as CEO of Ingredion, her employees love to hear that philosophy because they know they are going to get opportunities. A Boomer, she “gets it ” that what Gen Y/Millennials want is opportunity and challenge. Often impatient, many of them want that opportunity before, given their relatively short tenure at work, they would be judged to be ready.

This story was shared by Gordon in an interview with Adam Bryant in his Corner Office column in the New York Times (3/17/13). She urges young people to have tenacity rather than just leaving if things don’t happen for them quickly and to have backup plans because things don’t always work out. Young people have to learn to deal with adversity in life and work, and that’s where the backup plans come in. In promoting she looks for energy, drive and the ability to get things done through other people whether all on site or in virtual teams.

The lesson here for the young generations is that they are not entitled to rise quickly just because they think so or want to, but managers should give them opportunities to stretch and grow and prove themselves worthy of promotion and significant responsibility. It’s up to the individuals to figure out what to do, use their energy, and learn the interpersonal skills to lead a team to succeed. Their team members will make them look good if they provide the resources needed and make the team members look good.

What do you think of this philosophy?  Do you think many managers will take the risk and trust it will work out well? They also need a backup plan and create a culture where it is all right to fail.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot     www.pdcounsel.com  

RESEARCH ON “FAMILY NARRATIVES” CAN HELP ORGANIZATIONS THRIVE TOO.

Dr. Marshall Duke, a psychologist at Emory University found that children who know a lot about their families, especially the ups and downs rather than all good or all bad, tend to do better when they face challenges. Those with the most self- confidence have a strong “inter-generational self” and know they belong to something bigger than themselves. The research was related in a recent New York Times article.

Communicating effectively means more than talking through problems. Talking also means telling a positive personal or family story. When facing challenges they add a new chapter to their story that illustrates them overcoming the difficulty. The stories become traditions and what I might call a “family brand.”

Can you see how this same approach can help organizations thrive, keep their brands alive and strong and connect them to their community of stakeholders?  Please share your thoughts.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot   www.pdcounsel.com

2013 - THE YEAR OF CROSS-GENERATIONAL CONVERSATION

I’m declaring it, and I mean to see it spread as plans for our “big idea” unfold.

Why do we urgently need cross-generational conversation now in the world at work, in these times?  7 reasons.

*  Knowledge transfer is vital. We have more information to capture than ever, so there is more at stake to lose.

*  Businesses need to avoid losing clients and customers of other generations and obtain new ones

*  We need to transform information to knowledge to wisdom. That requires sharing perspectives and mutual mentoring.

*  We are connected to each other facing common problems that we can only solve for the long-term through multigenerational collaboration.

*  Over-emphasis on electronic communication means we are losing the personal touch and the full communication of non-verbal cues.

*  Looming inter-generational wealth transfers are challenged by family member emotional blocks and lack of effective communication

*  Young people are hungry for it. They want to know what older people know. That’s the feedback I get as I talk with and mentor students and young workers in my work.

This year and going forward build awareness and re-think the importance of cross-generational conversation at work.

As Gandhi urged us: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Wishing you all a healthy, joyful, fulfilling and successful new year and fun celebrations!


To learn more and get started, contact me.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot   www.pdcounsel.com [email protected]

 

CAREER ENTREPRENEURSHIP

 How to make members of each generation see they are owners/masters of their career enterprise is a challenge in many organizations. It’s what I call “career entrepreneurship,” and the need for it won’t disappear with an economic upturn. I wrote about it (recently) from a Baby Boomer perspective for Next Avenue.

You need to start learning to ask yourself some foresighted questions such as:

  • What trends are likely to affect my opportunities and roles?
  • What will become obsolete and will require me to change?
  • What do I need to learn and do to keep increasing my relevance?

Beverly Kaye wrote about that change in perspective and approach in her book “Help Them, Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Employees Want to Have” (BK Business, 2012). Individuals need to think about role shifts that require mind shifts, and employers need to support this more entrepreneurial thinking as positive for them as well. Some mind shifts include:

  • The goal doesn’t have to be the top position. And if you’re at the top, there are future role shifts that can be satisfying and creative.
  • There are alternate paths for different people at different times.
  • You can choose riskier or safer moves and shift from one to the otherover a career span for what feels right at the time.

In any case, don’t put artificial limits on yourself.

Work has changed. Job discussions and requirements have changed, and training has not kept up. You may have to re-invent yourself – or not. But the concept of what I call career entrepreneurship, taking charge of your own career development, is a winning strategy for anyone determined to succeed.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot   www.pdcounsel.com

INTERVIEW WITH PHYLLIS WEISS HASEROT on COACH WORLD TV

Enjoy and gain some insights on inter-generational challenges, including the need for knowledge transfer and leadership transfer between and across the generations.

Let me know what you think. I welcome comments, questions and all feedback.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com 

 

 

 

Coach World TV with Terry Yoffe, Featuring Phyllis Weiss Haserot ...
Coach World TV with Terry Yoffe (Phyllis Weiss Haserot - 09/10/12)
www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfwYtuF10Zg

 

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