Enter your email address to subscribe to our blog:

Delivered by FeedBurner



Add to Google
Add to My AOL
Subscribe in Bloglines

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.)

HOW TO UNBLOCK THE GENERATIONAL GRIDLOCK PROBLEM

 

C-GC Logo-larger

I am frequently asked about the potential for conflict between older and younger people in the workplace “Why won’t those Boomers realize it’s time to go?” some of them think.

Boomers are sticking around for two credible reasons: 1) they like the fulfillment, feeling of making a contribution, challenge and social opportunities work brings; and 2) they may very well need the money. In some cases there is a third reason as well: uncertainty that successors are well prepared to shoulder their greater responsibilities.

Economic reality meets career desires. The Great Recession had given many organizations a breather from brain-drain threats. At the same time, many Boomers would like to keep on working for a long time more, even if they can afford to retire. Surveys in 2004 and 2005 when the economy was robust and retirement funds were healthy revealed that about 80% of Boomers wanted to keep working after age 65 in some capacity – reinventing retirement.

While personal priorities will dominate each individual’s decisions, there’s a bigger picture need for restructuring. Even if we should see a booming economy, things won’t go back to what they were 20 years ago because the generational cohorts have different worldviews and expectations for their careers and work lives. And, significantly, they don’t understand each other’s perspectives and influences very well. When that understanding is achieved and accepted on an emotional level, we can move to greater cross-generational respect and collaboration.

REMOVING POTENTIAL CONFLICT

Achieve role shifts and transitioning that benefits clients/customers and the organization as a whole. I am not in favor of involuntarily removing productive people, who do not wish to retire. Yet for the sake of providing opportunities to the generation waiting in line, senior professionals’ and executives roles and responsibilities need to shift at some point.

Shifted roles must come with respect attached. The transitioning process requires employers to rethink value and compensation for functions that were assumed to be provided gratis in the context of professional roles. Too often financial rewards come only from performing other functions that leave little time for knowledge transfer, mentoring, training and coaching. Financial disincentives need to be eliminated to reduce conflict.

And oh by the way – a word to Boomers and senior professionals: Gen Y/Millennials have discovered and seek out role shifts and lateral/lattice moves that keep them learning and doing new things. It energizes, engages and provides more choices and marketability for the long term. So why not take a lesson from them and explore that avenue to extend a career while giving those experienced and waiting a chance to move up? Consider it an opportunity.

The trick is to capitalize on Boomer knowledge and experience without alienating the bottlenecked Gen Xers and later, Millennials. One answer is to pay Boomers still in place now to transition their valuable acquired wisdom, contacts and skills before they up and leave with these precious assets or fail to pass on the baton and client bonds. That will prepare Gen Xers to thrive when the bottleneck opens as Boomers transition out over time.

If knowledge transfer and coaching is not built into transitioning roles which are made attractive by according them respect and providing work/life flexibility and engaging challenges, how will the next generation of leaders and managers get prepared to succeed? Willingness to prepare the next generation and shift roles through gradual transition can avoid generational conflict as both generations reap the benefits.

The real enduring challenge is building sustainably strong organizations that engage and retain the most productive talent of every generation. It will take frequent dialogue, listening, mutual mentoring and empathy. Organizations have to assess and re-think the connections between attitudes and expectations and the policies and financial and non-financial incentives that foster attitudes in order to prevent tensions among the generations and provide continuing opportunities for all to make meaningful contributions.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com

 

KEY ISSUES TO TACKLE IN THE MULTIGENERATIONAL WORKPLACE NOW

Maze

Earlier this summer I was interviewed for a research project and master’s thesis by an EY (rebranded from Ernest & Young) Fellow in Ireland. For one of the questions, I generated a long list that provides an overview of challenges in the current multi-generational workplace. I am happy to share this with you.

Q. What do you feel are key issues affecting the multi-generational workplace at present?

A.  I easily named over a dozen issues, challenges and frustrations:

  • Senior management/decision-makers not “getting” the significant direct impact of generational challenges on the bottom line on their business.
  • Making mutigenerational teams better appreciate each member and work more effectively together.
  • Sharing and transferring knowledge – owing to compensation systems, lack of know-how and/or cultural resistance
  • Attracting and retaining clients/customers of different generations – and not taking different approaches
  • Attracting and retaining employees of different generations  - not using different approaches to meet their needs and expectations
  • Knowing when facetime is necessary and when not
  • Different generational perceptions of what teamwork is and what’s in it for them
  • Doing an effective job of orienting new employees, conveying the big picture vision and setting elear expectations
  • Comfort level with feedback and how to do it right – both giving and receiving
  • Avoiding turnover of valuable employees
  • Communicating messages that are received as intended by each generation
  • Excluding younger generation voices on leadership from succession planning
  • Tensions when older workers report to younger managers

No doubt this is a long list with much to tackle. Of course, not all of these are present in all firms/organizations or to the same degreee.

Which issues – or others – are occurring in your workplace or do you see elsewhere?

Please comment about which of these challenges and solutions to them you’d like to know more about to pwhaserot@pdcounsel.com or the Cross-Generational Conversation group on LinkedIn.

Let’s begin cross-generational conversation about these issues toward making more workplaces “best places to work.”

Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com

 

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

Blog developed by eLawMarketing