Monthly Archives: August 2013

Engaging Your Multi-Generational Team

One of the most talked about topics in management circles is employee engagement. How can we get our people more engaged? We know that engaged employees are more productive, so how can we create an engaging environment? Why do some employees respond while others seem indifferent? How can we get buy-in from our oldest and youngest employees?

In an exhaustive review of the literature concerning engagement and generational differences, Nancy M. Schullery of Western Michigan University (Business Communication Quarterly, June 2013) describes the significant differences in how the Millennial, Gen X and Baby Boomer generations view the importance of intrinsic, extrinsic and other elements of the workplace. We won’t try to summarize a 15 page paper in a sentence, but one takeaway is that younger people place more value on the rewards of the work than their older peers. There are many other differences.

Knowing that supervisors and managers will have to lead and engage people from across multiple generations, what are senior executives to do? How can they fulfill their responsibility to provide the resources to their junior leaders so that they can get needed results in an ultra-competitive economy?

First, understanding that there are differences in what motivates employees from different generations is a start. The 60-something Boomer might enjoy the work for its own sake; the 23 year old Millennial is probably more interested in the paycheck that enables non-work activities.

Second, everyone in a management role should know how to balance the needs of the organization with the varied needs and wants of the employees. No matter what, the work stills needs to be done.

Finally, leaders need to be ready to deal with the inter-generational conflicts that will inevitably happen. Emily, the pierced and tattooed administrative assistant just might have a difference of opinion with James, her ex-military 40-something Gen X boss. Handling these situations quickly, professionally and effectively is critical.

If your organization is not realizing and appreciating the varied viewpoints of its people, chances are you are missing out on an opportunity to maximize engagement and effectiveness. Training your leaders to expect and manage differences can make a big difference. Harnessing the talent of your entire team is worth the effort.

Learning Dynamics can help you develop the skills to develop and manage a multi-gen workforce. Facilitator-led and e-module training solutions are available.

People: Costs, Competitive Advantages or Both?

So which is it? Are your people – or their paychecks, to be accurate – costs to be minimized, competitive assets to be developed and grown, or something in between? Henry Blodget wrote on this subject in a compelling opinion piece on LinkedIn this week. To paraphrase, his view is that looking at people as costs rather than assets is shortsighted and actually hurts in the long-term. The truth is somewhere in between.

Training and development investments need to be made intelligently and must be combined with an effective and consistent performance management process. Here are steps that we recommend you consider when thinking about training investments. Who gets additional training and who doesn’t?

First: All employees get the introductory training that they need to do the jobs for which they have been hired.

Second: Supervisors give them the coaching and feedback that they need to be motivated and make corrections as needed. They also identify employees who can do more.

Third: Strong, high potential employees are identified for advanced training. They are worth the investment. Poor performers are given the chance to improve, but be careful about investing heavily in those who might not give you the return on your training investment.

By creating a process and culture in which people know that advanced training is something to be earned, organizations can create a healthy performance-based environment. An added but less obvious benefit is that your poor performers might get the message when passed over for training opportunities and remove themselves, opening a spot for more suitable and engaged talent.

Your people are much more than costs to be minimized. The right ones can and will grow your business and help you exceed your goals if you invest in them. The key to success is using your resources (i.e., your training budget) wisely so that your team becomes a competitive advantage that justifies your training investment.

Learning Dynamics advises and helps clients develop and train leaders on executing performance management strategies and offers a comprehensive portfolio of employee training programs.