Next Generation Webinar Questions Answered, Part 2

Posted: Nov 30  |  By: Parker + Lynch

If you attended our recent webinar on Next Generation Leadership, we hope that you enjoyed the discussion. If you missed it, don’t worry. You can still download our deck and watch the recorded version. Our presenters covered all aspects of multigenerational management, providing best practices for engaging workers of all ages. During the presentation, some attendees asked meaningful questions. This is part two of our experts’ response. If you don’t see your question, check out part one, as well.

Your Next Generation Leadership Webinar Questions Answered

What kind of knowledge transfer from past generations do you believe Gen Y and Gen Z find relevant?

Transferring knowledge from older to younger generations can be an extremely laborious and time-consuming process. This can be challenging for younger generations who are used to instant gratification. Don’t force Gen Z and Gen Y  to sit through long training sessions and one-on-one tutorials. Instead, take advantage of technology. Webcasts, webinars, screencasts, podcasts and vlogs are great tools for training. This knowledge will then be readily available to current and future employees, and will be provide a more familiar teaching style.

Where would you say servant leadership is applicable?

Servant leadership can be applicable anywhere. It’s used in healthcare organizations and non-profits as well as for-profit companies like Starbucks to U.S. Cellular. It’s not as widely used as other leadership styles because it’s not easy to implement. Also, most organizations are more focused on driving revenue than improving personal motivation and morale.

Which leadership style is working best? Is one better than others?

Servant leadership isn’t for everyone, but for those who can practice it, there is evidence that it’s good for employees and for the leaders themselves.

Servant leaders are more highly regarded by their employees. It’s also been shown that they feel better about themselves at the end of the day and are more productive. Even if servant leaders spend more time sharing and helping others, they become the beneficiaries of important contacts, information and insights that make them more effective.

My daughter is a team leader at a logistics company and is complaining that her team doesn’t respect her. What tips do you have for her on how to approach her team about it?

If your daughter feels like she’s doing everything she can and should as a leader, it could be a failure of communication. The first step is to start earning their respect by asking them for feedback on turning the culture around. She must learn how they want to be managed so that she can help them accomplish their goals. She needs to really listen to their concerns and ideas and work to implement their suggestions. When she improves her own communication habits, she should see a return on cooperation and morale.

For multi-culture companies, what type of communication styles should the leadership team implement/use/apply?

One way to ensure that cultural differences don’t lead to communication problems is to implement reflective listening around business objectives and goals. When you assign a project, have the employee write specifications and review them together before starting the work. This way, everyone is clear on what the requirements are and what the result should be.

What role will leaders play in the transition of institutional knowledge from the Boomers to the Millennials?

It’s up to leaders to help facilitate the transfer of knowledge from older generations to their younger coworkers. One way to do that is to implement a mentoring program that pairs Boomers and Millennials to share experiences and basic technical knowledge. What you’ll likely find is that the knowledge ends up flowing in both directions.

Can you provide specific examples of how gamification can be used in recruitment?

Unilever is a great example of companies using gamification for recruitment. Instead of sending reps to campus recruiting events to collect resumes and arrange interviews, candidates learn about jobs online through social media channels and submit their LinkedIn profile to apply. After that, an applicant spends about 20 minutes playing neuroscience-based games designed to see if he or she is a match for the position. If the applicant passes this level, the next step is an interview.

The process has greatly increased the number of applicants for open positions. The result is an increased diversity in hiring and a reduced average hiring time from four months to four weeks.

How do you recommend coaching Baby Boomers and Millennial coworkers in similar job functions to effectively communicate with each other?

The best thing you can do is stress the importance of in-person contact rather than email and IM. Technology has done a great job of increasing productivity, but over-relying on text-based tools is bad for communication. An effective communication strategy takes into account that an instant message may be fine for asking a quick question, but an in-person conversation (even if it’s via video conference) is better for a longer conversation.

I’ve heard a lot of talk about the 9/11 generation. Do you consider that a separate generation of behaviors, or do they fall in with Gen Z?

Most generational experts agree that Millennials cite the 9/11 attacks as having the greatest influence on the attitudes and beliefs of their generation. The next generation, Gen Z, does not remember September 11, 2001. It depends on the context of your discussion. If that means being affected by the event, the conversation is about Millennials. If that means growing up in a world shaped by it, you’re talking about Gen Z.

How does the change in family sizes over the years (trending smaller) factor into each generation’s behavior?

Several studies have shown that smaller families are good for kids. In smaller families, parents can devote more time and resources, like reading together and helping with homework, to each child. However, family size and birth order are often overlooked as variables in workplace behavior.

The growth in only-child households is certain to have an impact on the workplace. Only children tend to be achievement-oriented and motivated to please. On the other hand, they may also have a harder time sharing, being empathetic and interacting well with others. People with a large number of siblings may be better at working in teams, but less confident in a leadership role.

Many employers are moving towards a more open workplace, rather than traditional cubes and offices. How do you think this affects Baby Boomers and Gen X?

A 2010 study from Knoll found that Boomers value acoustic privacy in their office space and Gen X values security, while Millennials prefer an engaging workplace that provides an opportunity to collaborate with co-workers without relying on meeting rooms.

It can be a challenge for Boomers and Gen Xers to adapt to these new open office environments, so many employers are incorporating private spaces into their open office concepts, giving people a chance to make a phone call or just have some quiet space for focus on a project without distraction.

Technology seems to be a common thread through the generations, and there’s a heavy personal use that didn’t previously exist. How can leaders communicate that technology at work needs to stay focused on work?

There are good reasons for allowing employees to use technology for personal reasons. It gives employees a sense of autonomy and allows them to integrate their work and personal lives better. Home-work boundary flexibility also leads to higher job satisfaction. But of course, it can be taken too far.

The first step to preventing “cyberloafing” is to create usage policies tailored to your company’s needs. This should address using social media accounts, data security concerns, using personal email for work, and similar activities. It must also address what disciplinary action will be taken if employees don’t conform.

Please provide additional information about the importance of investing in soft skill training for Gen Z.

Previous generations focused on recruiting for technical skills and let employees build soft skills in entry-level jobs that involved a lot of routine tasks. With technology reducing the need for such roles, soft skills are more important than ever, even for entry-level employees.

Gen Z will need to gain higher-order critical thinking and reasoning skills much quicker than previous generations to be successful. There’s also a concern that the technology that has dominated their lives has weakened their ability to communicate and has stunted their development of “people skills.” Organizations can close that soft skills gap by re-examining the entry-level employee experience, from recruitment to job assignments, training and development and organizational culture.

Millennials are proving some of the initial beliefs about them to be wrong. How can HR professionals help identify any inaccurate stereotypes about Gen Z?

It’s important to keep in mind that the oldest members of Gen Z are barely out of high school, so many of the characteristics attributed to them are untested in the workplace. Again, it comes down to recognizing that people are individuals and are not always representatives of their generation. The world has been casting negative stereotypes on upcoming generations since the beginning of time. Using generational differences to help reach an understanding is helpful, but using them to complain about another generation’s work ethic, opinions or skills is not. Let’s work with each other, not against each other.