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On Veterans Day – or any day – we need to go beyond expressing gratitude for veterans’ military service. That’s a given. But what they really want and deserve are jobs – new careers – that not only provide a paycheck (vital) but also enable them to use their skills, insights and perspectives gained from their experience to continue to contribute in meaningful ways.

Whether potential employers, recruiters or workplace colleagues, it’s important to realize that 20- or 30-something veterans, particularly those who have had combat experience or trained those who have, are not typical Gen Y/Millennials. Of necessity, they have achieved a greater sense of maturity, and they have likely faced and survived different challenges. Often they are more comfortable working and socializing with Gen Xers and Boomers. Their diverse experience should be recognized for the extraordinary value it can bring to the business and consumer marketplace. They know what extreme loyalty and teamwork is.

Reach out and help them network and learn the business cultures they will be entering. Respect them not only for their past but what they can be in the future given the opportunity.

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






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



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.)



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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.


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




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



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.


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  


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


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

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