Managing a multi generational workforce april 2013

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Managing a multi generational workforce april 2013

  1. 1. 12 PEOPLE’S EDGE ● FEBRUARY 2013 PUBLISHER’S NOTE FEBRUARY 2013 ● PEOPLE’S EDGE 13 PUBLISHER’S NOTE Managing a Multi Generational Workforce T he business world is becoming progressively global. Products and services offered by businesses are also becoming more focused and targeted at specific demographicsegments.Besides,manyorganisations today have customers all over the world who demand excellent services and products that meet their diverse needs, expectations and priorities. The composition of the workforce is also changing significantly across the globe. Never before have four generations worked side-by- side in the workplace. After World War II, the Traditionalist generation,bornbetween1922and1945,tendedtoworkwith the same employer for the duration of his career. Beginning with the Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, women and Professor Sattar Bawany, CEO, Centre of Executive Education & Strategic Advisor, International Professional Body (IPMA) Asia Pacific, looks into the challenges facing the global business landscape and the accompanying new realities ethnic groups began entering the workforce in increasing numbers, bringing different needs and perspectives to the workplace. As the Gen Xers entered the workforce, they augmented job-hopping in an effort to increase their income and/or to balance their lifestyle. Although some employers made accommodations in response to the demographic shifts, the basic work model––top down, command and control, one-size-fits-all, 8-to-5 workday—did not radically change. Now, the emergence of the digitally-savvy Millennials or Gen Yers has the potential to change the face of the working world to be more collaborative, to use virtual teams, to use social media, and to offer more flexible work hours. The Fifth generation, Gen Zers or The Linksters, has started coming into the workforce. The five generations and their birth years are depicted in Table 1. Challenges in Managing a Multi- generational Workforce Amajorchallengefortoday’sTraditionalistandBabyBoomer managersistofigureouthowtodevelopyoungerworkersinto tomorrow’s managers under a new business environment. A pivotal question for managers is, “Do we want our legacy to be of mentoring and empowering the next generations, or of fighting them tooth and nail?” Organisations that embrace generational differences in values, ways of getting things done, and ways of communicating will thrive. Demographic and social trends will have a significant impact on the workforce in the coming years. In today’s struggling global economy, it is more important than ever for organisations to leverage the knowledge, skills and abilities of all workers, from all generations. By capitalising on the strengths and values of different generations, business leaders can create a sustainable competitive advantage for their organisations. Generation Birth Year Work Perspectives Traditionalists 1922 - 1945 “Company loyalty” - Believe they would work for the same company for their entire career. Boomers 1946 - 1964 “Live to work” - Believe in putting in face time at the office. Women enter the workforce in large numbers. Gen Xers 1965 - 1980 “Work to live” - Believe that work should not define their lives. Dual-earner couples become the norm. Gen Yers (Millennials) 1981 - 1994 “Work my way” - Devoted to their own careers, not to their companies. Desire meaningful work. Gen Zers (Linksters) 1995 to present “LivingandWorkingtheirway”-Theirstrugglesinthework environment are tied to their youth and inexperience. Desire for change, stimulation, learning and promotion thatwillconflictwithtraditionalorganisationalhierarchies. Table 1: The Multi-Generational Workforce Organisations struggle with the challenges of effectively managing a more diverse workforce. These challenges often relate to variation in perspective, values and belief systems as a result of generational differences and are further complicated due to the age differences between managers and employees. The assumption that people of varying ages will understand each other or have the same perspective and goals is far from true. In order to be successful, managers need to understand andvaluethediversityresultingfromgenerationaldifferences, varying perspectives and differing goals. Each generation brings different experiences, perspectives, expectations, work styles and strengths to the workplace. Despite the perceived “generation gap” from differing views and potential conflict, organisations have the opportunity to capitalise on the assets of each generation to achieve competitive advantage. Each brings unique assumptions to the job. As a result, events in the workplace are often interpreted differently by individuals of different generations. What may seem like good news to a Boomer might well be an unsettling and unwelcome development to a member of Generation X. Things that members of Gen Y love often seem unappealing or frivolous to those of the older generations. Like any other generation, Gen Z or the Linksters brings its own mind-set into the workforce. They are called Linksters because no other generation has ever been so linked to each other and to the world throughtechnology.Theirstrugglesintheworkenvironment are tied to their youth and inexperience. They are complete digital natives and cannot function without communicating through social media. They desire change, stimulation, learning and promotion that will conflict with traditional organisational hierarchies. Leading and Engaging a Multi- generational Workforce When employees join an organisation, they’re usually enthusiastic, committed, and ready to be advocates for their new employer. Simply put, they’re engaged. “Do we want our legacy to be of mentoring and empowering the next generations, or of fighting them tooth and nail?”
  2. 2. 14 PEOPLE’S EDGE ● FEBRUARY 2013 PUBLISHER’S NOTE FEBRUARY 2013 ● PEOPLE’S EDGE 15 PUBLISHER’S NOTE Butoften,thatfirstyearonthejobistheirbest.Research by Gallup, Inc. reveals that the longer an employee stays with a company, the less engaged he or she becomes. And that drop costs businesses big in lost profit and sales, and in lower customer satisfaction. In fact, Gallup estimates that actively disengaged employees are the least productive and as such, cost the American economy up to US$350 billion per year in lost productivity. Managerswhoharnessthisunprecedentedopportunity for growth, development, and collaboration, and build bridges between generations, will thrive in today’s turbulent economic landscape. For managers who have four generations of employees sitting in a meeting or working on a project, it can seem like each generation has its own world-views, priorities, career models, motives and values. They need to enhance their understanding of generational characteristics and the impact of their own management practices on each of these groups, so that they can leverage on the strengths of each generation. Taking full advantage of the multi-generational workforce will enable employers to effectively attract and retain employees, build teams, deal with change, and increase employee engagement. Impact of Leadership Effectiveness on Employee Engagement and Organisational Success Organisations need to deliver service value and build good customer relationships in order to generate sustainable resultsthroughtheirsatisfiedandloyalcustomers. Employees being at the forefront of the service delivery chain hold the key to building this satisfied and loyal customer base. Employees who are engaged and motivated are instrumental in delivering the service experience for the client,whichwillresultincustomerengagement.Thelevelof employee engagement is dependent on the ‘Organisational Climate’ (sometimes known as Corporate Climate), which simply refers to “how employees feel about working in the organisation/business unit/department/division.” Organisational climate is the process of quantifying the ‘culture’ of an organisation. It is a set of properties of the work environment, perceived directly or indirectly by the employees, that is assumed to be a major force in influencing employee behaviour and engagement. We know that leaders create, transform and manage organisational cultures. The leader’s values, beliefs and leadership styles will impact the organisation’s climate. We need‘Level5Leaders’whodemonstrateontologicalhumility and possess emotional mastery. They also need to possess essential integrity in discharging their day-to-day role and responsibilities towards engaging the employees. In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins examines how a good company becomes an exceptional company. The book introduces a new term to the leadership lexicon––Level 5 leadership. Level 5 refers to the highest level in a hierarchy of executive capabilities. Leaders at the other four levels may be successful, but are unable to elevate companies from mediocrity to sustained excellence. Level 5 leadership challenges the assumption that transforming companies from good to great requires larger-than-life-leaders. The leaders that came out on top in Collins’five-yearstudywererelativelyunknownoutsidetheir industries. The findings appear to signal a shift of emphasis away from the hero to the anti-hero. According to Collins, humility is a key ingredient of Level 5 leadership. His simple formula is Humility + Will = Level 5. “Level 5 leaders are a study in duality,” notes Collins, “modest and wilful, shy and fearless.” Increasing generational diversity and technolog ical change is causing a transformation in the way employers must manage human resources. The homogeneous human capital model of the past simply will not work with such diverse cohorts in the workforce. It is time to throw out the one-size-fits-all model of talent management and embrace a more flexible model. The diversity in the workforce today may be a challenge to HR and business leaders. However, they do provide an organisation with a positive force as they each bring varied sets of skills and life experiences to the workplace. If managedproperly,organisationscandefinitelyseeimproved productivity and employee engagement. Managers who harness this unprecedented opportunity for growth, development, and collaboration, and build bridges between generations, will thrive. For managers who have four or five generations of employees sitting in a meeting or working on a project, it can seem like each generation has its own world-views, priorities, career models and motives. Managers need to develop an understanding of generational characteristics and the impact of their own management practices on these groups. They also need to leverage the strengths of each generation. Taking full advantage of the multi-generational workforce will enable employers to effectively attract and retain employees, build teams, deal with change, and increase employee engagement. WHAT’S WITH EXTERNAL SUCCESSION PLANNING? F rom an observer’s perspective, it appears that most succession planning efforts are nothing more than staged processes to lure up-and-coming leaders into a false sense of job security and form part of the business case that lets the leadership development function spend a fortune on career coaches, custom education development, and opulent retreats. This is clearly a case of HR practitioners pandering to the wants of a few versus the needs of the organisation, and someday soon such gluttonous actions will wreak havoc. Small- and medium-sized organisations are already very aware of what not developing leadership bench strength can mean to the organisation. Across the globe there are thousands of businesses that are nothing more than shells of what they once were, thrown into periods of spiralling decline caused by the absence of engaged leadership. The problems that strike family-owned businesses that arise when there is no family left interested in assuming the reins are no different than those that impact large conglomerates that find that after years of focusing on the product, they haven’t developed any replacementleaderswiththerightmixofskillsandknowledge to run a division or even a facility. Lack of Leadership Bench Strength: A Growing Problem As the second phase of the War for Talent slowly builds momentum, more and more firms are going to experience Succession planning is an interesting concept with great potential— if only it were used to do what it was designed for. The unfortunate truth surrounding succession plans, however, is that most are nothing more than out-of-date, static documents—rarely referred to, and with little exception, never executed. By Dr. John Sullivan & Master Burnett Driving the demand for such talent are a• number of issues, including: The impending retirement of baby boomers• (i.e. the ageing workforce) The increased turnover resulting from a• growing economy The surge in interest of becoming an• entrepreneur The lack of upward promotions available in• recently merged or otherwise "lean" firms Continued global expansion, which requires• leaders with broader skill sets havoc directly related to the absence of leadership bench strength. The problems that have crippled smaller firms historically will establish a footing in every major enterprise, as the competition for management and leadership talent reaches an all-time high. Most organisations have no effective strategy that can realistically address this. The dominant strategies and tools that power succession planning were designed around the assumption that your organisation has a sufficient volume of internal candidates suitable for development and the opportunities to actually development them as needed. In The diversity in the workforce today may be a challenge to HR and business leaders.

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