Generational Differences in the Workplace

Generation conflict can cause an organization a lot of money in productivity.  At no other time in history have five generations co-existed in the US. Labor force, Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and the most current Gen2020.  This is due because people are living longer and working longer.  This mixed, multi-generational environment is a new challenge for management and HR teams.  Falling under one generation does not necessarily mean you were born during the years within the range but if you meet the characteristics and values of the generation.

Several of the prevailing issues are the different workforce behaviors, and those who are unfamiliar with collaboration tools but are expected to work in a setting with possibly four other different generations.  Generalizations and stereotypes exist in an attempt to understand trends.  By having your employees understand how work is done differently in different generations, collaboration between groups tends to happen.  Understanding the different needs go both ways.  “Social learning” is a new concept that employees learn from each other.  Management has learned that by pairing up employees from different generations and by providing them the training, they can both teach each other and develop working relationships.

You can learn more about strategies for understanding–and overcoming–generational differences by reading “Generations at Work: Managing the Clash of Veterans, Boomers, Xers, and Nexters in Your Workplace.”

Reflection on Immunity to Change

Desire and motivation aren’t enough to see change through.  Therefore, it is best to first understand what you seek to change and then determine your desire to fully commit to implementing it.  I understand that change does not happen overnight, it requires serious dedication.  Yet and still, in my experience, I know it is easy to fall off track and lose sight of the goal.  At times I am consciously aware of what I need to do yet I lack motivation to continue to implement the change I started to pursue.  My actions become inconsistent and/or I psyche myself out.  Eventfully, though, I realize I do not have to begin my transformation in a drastic manner, I can revamp my approach and start with baby steps—Kaizen.

This particularly correlates with how I feel about the mannerisms I am trying to change.  For the most part, I consider myself to be a well-rounded individual who understands we all encompass unique differences.  However, in knowing myself, I accept that I am not and will never be perfect.  Thus, I am continually working towards becoming a better person.  I admit that I need to be a better listener, have better control of my emotions, and even become a better delegator.  Conversely, my “one big thing” is control issues.

I was already aware of my areas of weakness, nevertheless, Kegan and Lahey helped put the significance of my weaknesses into a perspective I had never considered.  I was content simply knowing that there were a few things I needed to work on.  I did not want to think about every aspect of my faults—it makes me feel uneasy.  It truly is a slap in the face once you realize you are unconsciously blocking your own path to success.  With that being said, I appreciate the self discoveries that spawned from reading “Immunity to Change.”  Not only am I aware of my faults and consequences they may cause, now I am also aware that I have the ability to create a game plan by using an immunity map to overcome every obstacle blocking my path to success.

Organizational Transparency

Increased transparency is a consequence to the digital age.  A transparent organization shares information purposely beyond the boardroom with both members and nonmembers alike.  Organizational transparency encourages, honors, and engages with the public.  Transparency is the degree to which an organization shares the following with its stakeholder publicly:

  • Leaders are accessible and straightforward.
  • Employees are accessible and can reinforce the public view of the company by providing superb customer service, when appropriate.
  • Ethical behavior, fair treatment, and other values are on full display.
  • It’s culture.  How a company does things is more important than what it does.
  • Successes, failures, victories, and problems are all communicated.  Results of business practices, good and bath are communicated.
  • Business practices are aligned with the business strategy.  Misalignment can results in disaster.

The reasons why certain organizations have productive and lively workplaces go beyond hiring efficient employees and paying competitive wages. Workplace transparency can increase employee happiness, productivity and decrease the turnover rate. The responsibility of introducing transparency into the workplace falls upon the shoulders of management by keeping employees up to date with workplace changes. Communication is key; it can be as simple as carbon copying your employees in your emails.

Thanks to the evolution of social media, transparency is no longer an option.  It is in the organization’s best interest to talk openly and behave ethically.   Some recognized transparent organizations are Wholefoods, La-Z-boy, and PriceSmart.  These organizations model openness and integrity. When organizations announce their motives to the public it allows the public to hold the company accountable.

The Glassdoor provides an inside look at jobs and companies.  It includes salary details, company reviews and interview questions. Before your next shopping trip or when applying for your next job, check out what others are saying about this organization at http://www.glassdoor.com/index.htm

Leadership: The Good, the Bad and the Imperious

Despite what we might have been told (by others or ourselves), there is a leader in all of us just waiting to make an impact. The ability to lead is one of the most sought-after traits to have as a human being, for it demonstrates bravery, a clear vision and stability. But oftentimes, leadership can go to a dark place, and an ordinarily fair person can quickly become the opposite if they are not grounded in reality. In this post I’ll be looking at how leadership can go bad, and what people can do to regain the strength to be a positive leader.

After many years on the job, it is not uncommon for professionals in leadership positions to lose a sense of modesty. Perhaps this is due to the comfort level of professional consistency that they might have accomplished over the course of time. When a worker in power loses their sense of teamwork, cooperation becomes obsolete; thus creating a cycle of division and insufficiency in the workplace. This rubs off on their team members, who may see this behavior as healthy and normal, or “the way to move up.” Bennet Simonton, a leadership coach, explains “Bad leadership shuts off the natural creativity, innovation, and productivity of each employee and slowly but surely demotivates and demoralizes them. With the “I know better than you” and the “be quiet and listen to me” mentality often projected from management, the majority will act like robots waiting for instructions, even if that is not what management intended.”*

So how can problematic leaders take a turn for the best? The first step is to treat your so-called “subordinates” as equal players in the game of success. Listening to them and focusing on their strengths instead of their weaknesses is not as difficult as it seems when actively applied. Matching an employee’s personal strengths to responsibilities around the workplace makes for a huge success. Clear and concise planning free of haste shows a combination of accuracy and logical thinking. Strong problem solving, being proactive and brainstorming with team members are also excellent strengths to have. But more importantly, striving for success as fairly and efficiently as possible is a surefire way to becoming a prominent and productive team leader.

*Works Cited

Simonton, Bennett. “Good Leadership vs. Bad Leadership.” Web log post. Www.bensimonton.com. N.p., 2012. Web. 8 Aug. 2012.

Training and Development

Last year I researched variables that generate success for small businesses in an ever-changing economy. Primarily, I wanted to prove that well-structured training programs are the core on which all other factors stand to warrant a company’s merit. Professional Resources stock image

I referenced my learning experiences from relative academic courses and my personal work experience at small companies. Additionally, I gathered data using Google Scholar and OhioLinks as research tools for academic articles that supported my hypothesis. Business success, business development, training programs, and Fortune 500 were just a few of the key phrases I used.

With additional supporting evidence from scholarly articles, I proposed training programs were the common denominator among the most successful companies at the time. Furthermore, my research unveiled the basic fundamentals for training that can be incorporated in almost any industry.

The article I found most useful came from the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD). I highly recommend referring to this organization for the latest trends in training and development.

Merit Increases Today

This past week I attended a WebEx about merit increase guidelines for my staff for fiscal year 2012.  This is the first time my organization offers such training and I was really taken back to hear that we will be receiving a merit increase this year.  My organization, like many others have not offered their employees a merit increase in a few years, if not longer.  It turns out that most organizations are giving anywhere from two to three and a half percent increase in 2012.  The truth is that what your organization should pay in merit increase depends on many factors.  Some factors include, what is going on in your market, what is the demographic of your workforce, and how your organization differs from the norm.

Just looking at the average in your company in your area is not enough.  Say a sales person in the industry may be at three percent.  Even though you are not a sales company but you have staff in sales, you may consider giving the sales staff a three percent merit increase.  If you do not stay competitive, you may fear losing the sales staff.  Earlier in your career there is a positive correlation between higher pay and each additional years of service.  For example a staff member with one year of experience the difference between one year to two years may be up to a four percent but a staff with 15 years of experience the difference in pay with only one more year of experience may just be one percent.  If your organization is performing better than its competitors, it may warrant an increase higher than the average. Also, the average should be based on what organizations are paying competitively with market.

Organizations should establish a compensation philosophy that builds a compensation plan with relevant, timely market data, supports business objectives, and executes increases based on rewarding what your organization values.  This will help the organization stay ahead of being just the average.  For a 2012 Compensation Best Practices Report, go to http://www.payscale.com/hr/default

“Why would I work for free?”

By Sherry Wong

As an ABC (American-Born Chinese), my parents hardly talked about community service  or its personal value. Growing up poor, my parents were more concerned about putting food on the table and making rent than helping others. The times that I did hear about community service, I got the impression it was for punishing celebrities – e.g. Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Naomi Campbell and Snoop Dogg. “I don’t want to do community service. Can’t I just donate money?” That is what I used to say until my Service Learning course – MGT 524 – enlightened me.

I currently tutor a young lady from Thailand through LAPL’s Adult Literacy Program. Since English is her second language and she wants to attend an American university, she is required to take the TOEFL iBT test – it measures a person’s ability to use and understand English at the university level and it evaluates how well you combine your listening, reading, speaking and writing skills to perform academic tasks. I have been working with my Thai student for about seven weeks now and her English-speaking progress is evident.

I learned that community service is not just court-mandated for naughty celebrities. I
learned community service is not simply about donating money. I learned through my
Service Learning experience that community service is about giving back (time) and
paying it forward. I attended Los Angeles public schools and I remember every teacher
who helped me succeed along the way. Their kindness compelled me to give that same
time and focus back to my Thai student. When my Thai student and I started working
together seven weeks ago, she was very quiet and timid. Now she is incredibly talkative
and humorous while doing it all in English. I know I am making a difference and there is
no better feeling.