Our recent Next Generation Leadership webinar was a hit! Our presenters detailed how to best manage across generations to retain your staff and keep them engaged. If you weren’t able to attend, you can still download our deck and watch the recorded version. Some of those who attended had great questions, and we want to be sure that those got answered for you. This is part one of our experts’ response to your webinar questions. Stay tuned for part two!
Your Next Generation Leadership Webinar Questions Answered
How can the concepts discussed be incorporated within a Government or Non-Profit Agency where there isn’t much room for flexibility?
No matter their age or where they work, employees thrive when they believe in the mission of their organization and can see how their work contributes to the success of that mission. Make sure that people know how their role fits into the larger mission of the organization and why their work is important.
How should one deal with a Baby Boomer that’s close to retirement but their work attitude is that they’ve “checked out?”
As some people near retirement, they spend more time thinking, reading and talking about retirement, and less of their mental energy on their careers. Keep in mind that sometimes employers are partly to blame for this disengagement. Managers start writing people off as they near retirement, assuming they’ll begin disengaging in this way, when perhaps they won’t.
To maintain engagement, continue celebrating performance – whether through title changes or raises. Also, provide mentorship opportunities that give older workers a chance to share the experience and knowledge they’ve collected over the years with less senior coworkers. Don’t assume older workers are not up for a challenge. Baby Boomers have intense work ethics and are incredibly goal-oriented, so giving them challenging projects will help them remain engaged.
Can you provide examples of soft skills? How can employers help develop these?
Soft skills fall into three primary categories:
- Presence (dress, speech and ability to form relationships)
- Clear and communicable vision
- Decision-making ability
- Written and oral communication skills
- Knowing how to give and take instructions
- Ability to listen
- Ability to work in a team environment
- Knowing how to manage conflict
- Desire and ability to make contacts
- Client service skills
- Project management skills
These skills aren’t developed in one class or even a day-long seminar. They’re built over a lifetime, so employers should implement training and learning programs that incorporate these skills. If you can’t provide them internally, seek out external training programs. There are many options out there.
Work-life balance is hard to manage. As leaders, how do you balance both your personal and professional life? How do you encourage your team to do so?
First, work/life balance is a challenge to address because it looks different for everyone. We have to start with a common definition: Having a sense that there is enough time in the day to effectively accomplish work tasks, family responsibilities and participate in activities that we enjoy on a regular basis.
Begin the journey by figuring out your values and priorities. It may seem like everything is a priority, but too often our time and energy are spent on things we don’t really care about. Once you get clear on your values, you can start saying no so things that move you away from your priorities and yes to those things that align with them.
The best way to encourage your team to do this is leading by example. Don’t hide the fact that you’re taking time for your family or personal time. Make it visible. This sends a message about your values better than any email or written policy ever could.
As generations are becoming more tech-savvy, do you see cell phone policies changing in the coming years? What about Internet usage (personal use) in the workplace?
Companies are already making significant changes to the way they view personal cell phone and internet usage in the workplace. In fact, five years ago, CIO Insight reported that most organizations (60 percent) are adapting their IT infrastructure to accommodate employee’s personal devices rather than restricting how employees can use them.
It’s good for employees because they’re better able to balance the needs of their work and personal life when they can use their cell phone and internet for personal tasks during the workday. It’s also good for the employer because allowing employees to access company data on personal devices (BYOD) has been shown to improve productivity.
However, it’s essential that employers communicate their expectations for cell phone and internet usage. The policies will vary based on the company’s work environment and culture, but they should be expressed clearly, and applied consistently and fairly throughout the company.
How should managers and leaders handle separate generational expectations? Many workplaces consist of all generations, so when making decisions that impact the whole group, this can present some challenges.
Many workplaces have up to four generations working together right now, and with that comes some friction, but also opportunity. The first thing to do is realize that not everyone fits a generational profile. For instance, don’t assume that all Baby Boomers are resistant to change. Treat people as individuals and move beyond labels.
Next, a little bit of listening goes a long way. One of the most important strategies you can master is the ability to listen with the intent to learn. Create teams with generational diversity in mind and solicit input from every generation. Management is still ultimately in charge, but hearing people out and letting them know that you value their viewpoints and understand where they’re coming from will make any generation less resistant to change.
Collaboration seems to be key with Generation Y and Z. How should we find balance and create a cadence of accountability?
Whether you assign a task or project to an individual or a group, the same best practices apply: clearly articulate objectives, clarify expectations, model high-quality work and communicate performance criteria. Both Gen Y and Gen Z thrive on coaching and feedback, so if you set expectations clearly to begin with and check in with them regularly, you’ll set them up for success.
What are some qualities a manager needs to have in his or her tool belt in order to effectively manage the many different styles of his or her employees?
One of the most important qualities is simply the power of observation. Does an employee consistently turn in work early or wait until the last minute? Do they send emails with only a few words, or write novels? Once you get a sense of the work styles of your people, you can leverage their unique strengths so that each work style contributes to the team and the organization.
Working in accounting, how should managers present and utilize the work-from-home scenario? While the option seems to be effective with staff working on solo projects, the best practice for teams seems to be working in a common space. What have you found to be the best practice from your consulting experience?
Teams can collaborate remotely, but the collaboration needs to be more intentional. When people work from home, it’s not as easy to have impromptu meetings and “water cooler” discussions, so organizations need to invest in technology tools that can facilitate these. Video conferencing is absolutely vital to relationship building for remote teams. Face-to-face meetings aren’t just about getting status updates. They help people get to know each other because they allow for non-verbal communication and emotion better than an email, phone call or instant message. Organizations can use tools like Go To Meeting, Zoom, and Google Hangouts to facilitate “face-to-face” meetings with team members and Slack for “water cooler” chat. But it does require a mental shift and deliberate effort at keeping communication flowing. More than anything, setting clear expectations for performance and deliverables when an employee works from home will set you both up for success. This holds them accountable and gives you something to measure.
What are the best practices when managing a team composed of each generation?
Again, we need to look past generations and see each employee as an individual. When you interact with your employees, try to adapt your management style to suit individual strengths, personality and aspirations.
Next, people want to know that their work has a direct impact on the organization’s success. Make sure that the company’s vision and mission are clearly defined and known throughout the organization so that employees know where they fit in. Tie individual performance reviews to the company’s mission and strategic plan to reinforce this connection.
How do leaders address the “everybody gets a trophy” expectation of younger workers?
People tend to think of Millennials as the most high-maintenance generation in history, but they could potentially be the most high-performing. The key is to understand that they are eager for new experiences and thrive on short-term goals with visible results. Give them ample opportunities to develop new skills and provide frequent feedback. A clearly defined career path offering a wide range of experiences is more appealing than vertical promotions up the totem pole.