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.”

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

Nonprofit Management

Nonprofits that can stay afloat do so by having a viable mission statement, ethical, accountable, and transparent practices.  Additionally, successful nonprofits recruit working boards and educated staff.  They can keep up with technology and social entrepreneurs.   A nonprofits mission is at the core of why they are in business whereas the values drive how nonprofits conduct business.   Transparency, ethics, accountability must begin within the organization before they move outward. 

Leadership should be visible and accessible.   In a bottom –up management, management is treated as support and values direct staff.  In this model, management attempts to be an enabler not a restrictor.  Management treats employees as they want to be treated, leaders are willing to follow.  Supervisors provide the tools and training to the frontline employees.  They encourage, coach, and mentor staff.  A working board understands the mission of the nonprofit and acts in support of the mission.  The board works directly with the executive director and/or CEO and evaluates him or her annually.  The board will change over time and provides the nonprofit public support.  The board is a key asset when the right individuals have been recruited.  A nonprofit’sboard is usually responsible for:

  • Government reporting
  • Policy and organizational goals
  • Hiring of ED and/orCEO
  • Fiscal and personnel policies compliance
  • Nominating of other officers
  • Volunteer work

Finally, when making decisions, the nonprofit should keep the following in mind; a) does the action support the organization’s mission, b) does the action maintain focus on the organization’s priorities, and c) has adequate research been conductedKeeping the aforementioned will ensure that nonprofits keep focus on their mission and values. For more information and training go to Center for Nonprofit Management  or Blue Avacodo’s web page.

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

Personality, What Personality?

Have you ever wondered why you cannot get along with your coworker?  It could be that your personalities do not complement each other.  A personality test such as the Myers-Briggs Test can help you understand why you may feel awkward around others and/or places. A personality test is a set of questions designed to identify aspects of an individual’s character or psychological makeup- resulting in sixteen different personality types.

After taking the Myers-Briggs Test, I found out I am an INTP (introvert, intuitive, thinker, and perceiver). Making up about 3 to 5% of the U.S. population, INTPs are conceptual problem solvers. They tend to be quiet, detached and inwardly absorbed in analyzing problems. A primary example of this is my dislike of large crowds and public speaking. Therefore, a job that would require presenting or mingling would not be a good fit.  Based on my own experience, I was surprised at how accurate the results matched my personality, especially the pitfalls. Additionally, a personality test can provide great insight intohow individuals will react to each other.

In recent years, recruiters are turning to personality tests to find ideal candidates for job openings. So if a job requires certain characteristic and personality traits, they may use a personality test for placing individuals in the right positions. This can be an effective way of producing better workplace-relations thus increasing productivity. What is your personality type?  You can go to personalitytype.com to find out.

Performance Management: A Measuring Tool For Business Success

In America, the demand for things to be done faster, better and simpler is constantly on the rise; making it tough for any business to survive.  Whether it’s a new gluten-free food product, a multi-purpose electronic device, a new energy-efficient car or an action-packed Hollywood film, all products are designed to meet the needs and desires of consumers in order to gain prosperity.  Nonetheless, meeting production deadlines is not a company’s only concern.  With the development of today’s global market, organizations are incessantly seeking ways to grow and maintain high rankings.

Every day, top companies are faced with fierce competitors seeking to rise above them and/or take them out of business all together.  Thus, it is imperative, for the sake of the company, to stay ahead of the game by constantly evaluating production and management procedures and the means by which they are implemented into the organization. Performance Management is an essential tool to measure your company’s productivity and success. I am Ready to Manage subscriber and they recently posted a blog about Performance Management that I found to be very helpful in my own workplace. It’s a simple read and with great resources. Check it out and see for yourself: http://blog.readytomanage.com/what-is-performance-management/.

Words That Can Bring You To Your Knees — And 8 Ways To Retake Control Of Your Career

by Pat Palleschi, Ph.D

“Fired,” “right-sized,” “terminated,” “severed,” “we’ve gone in a different direction,” “we’ve changed strategies,” “you get two weeks severance,” “good luck in your next opportunity…”

These are all words that can bring any adult to their knees. And in Los Angeles there are millions of people who have heard them.

Here are the 8 things you need to do to retake control of your career:

  1. Take control of your finances. Put in a safe place (ha!) the equivalent of what you will need to live on for ONE YEAR. Can’t do that? Learn to be cheap. VERY cheap. Take on roommates; take your lunch to work; read a book you’ve borrowed from a friend.
  2. Use every means possible to learn and make yourself more valuable to your current company or the next one. Learn on the job by talking with friends who happen to be experts in a field, go to conferences (volunteer to help, so you don’t have to pay), take online programs, etc.
  3. Grab anything your company has to offer that can teach you new skills. Take on new projects, work on enterprise-wide systems, in-house Facebook pages, kick-ass presentations, etc. Have the people you work with document what you’ve done and write a recommendation for you on Linkedin.
  4. Learn how to use social media to position yourself as an “expert” (see above note on Linkedin).
  5. On your own time (weekends, nights, etc.), learn NEW skills. Then use them to get results in a volunteer activity.
  6. Become invaluable to your current job. Become the expert in sustainability, social media, artificial intelligence, analytics – any skill that your company needs to become a leader in the field.
  7. Lose your ego. If you get fired, take ANY job while you WORK to get another job. Drive a taxi (and write a blog about the weird stories you learn while driving!). Volunteer. Even if you were worth $1 million a year, you must find a way to re-value yourself.
  8. Remember that any job change affects your whole family. Get your whole family involved in this “new adventure” of finding work.

It may sound self-serving for me to say “get a good coach” – but I will say it anyway. Get a CAREER coach who has done job placements. DO NOT spend money on “life coaches” (unless you have extra money and need a life).

No one at your company has the ability or time to watch out for you, your desires and your long-term goals. A company cannot afford to become your family (with some very, very few notable exceptions).

TAKE Control of your career. NO ONE else can do it, except you.


Guest Blogger Pat Palleschi is the President of The Executive Agency. She has devoted the past 25 years to creating HR strategies that help organizations and individuals succeed. As VP of Human Resources Development at Disneyland, she helmed the Disney University, where she and her team made it their mission to attract, develop and retain Disney Cast members who were “pumped to perform.” Before Disney, Pat served as Senior VP of Training for Bank of America. She earned her doctorate at the University of Massachusetts and chaired the Speech Communication Department at Loyola Marymount University.

Q&A: What is Strategic Planning?

by David Norgard, Adjunct Faculty, AULA BA Program
Strategic planning answers a basic question: Where do you want to go as an organization?

photo by Kazi Shefaet Rahman, Illuminatus Rex, via Wikimedia Commons

Another way to put it is: What do you want to see happen? Or, again: What do you want to accomplish? That question begs another: How are you going to get there? How are you going to realize your aspirations? A sound strategic planning process helps leaders arrive at informed, clear answers to these most basic questions.

Why should we bother? (Who knows what the future will bring anyway?)
A popular adage used in strategic planning is a retort to this question: If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there. Nevertheless, some of us are familiar with situations where much time, effort and money was spent on producing a very elaborate plan, only to have it put into a three-ring binder, placed on a shelf, and collect dust until a new occupant in the office threw it out. A good strategic plan is valuable in that it provides a continuing reminder of what you really want and need to accomplish, even in the midst of a hundred other possibilities and detours. It provides clarity about mission, vision, values, and priorities… And that clarity helps leaders make more informed decisions about everything from program initiatives to infrastructure requirements.

What does the process involve?
The strategic planning process can be relatively quick and simple or lengthy and complex. How extensive the process should be depends largely on the size and complexity of the organization. For example, an agency with a single program and a budget of less than $1M requires a far less elaborate approach than an agency with multiple programs and an operating budget over $5M. Nevertheless, every strategic planning process, however abbreviated or extensive, should include these elements:

  1. Review existing Mission, Vision, and Values Statements and revise and refine as appropriate. If no such statements exist, draft them so that the organization has succinct descriptions of what it does (mission), what it wants to accomplish (external vision), and how and/or why it does its work (values). These statements are the foundation of a strategic plan.
  2. Assess the organization’s current situation and context by gathering and analyzing information from both internal and external sources. Most commonly this is done through a “SWOT Analysis” – a survey and review of internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats.
  3. Build agreement about strategic priorities. The assessment will likely point to where the organization needs to focus its time and energy. Arriving at consensus about strategic priorities sets up the plan’s overall framework.
  4. Identify functional goals and specific objectives. The goals explain how the established priorities will be achieved in general, and the objectives detail how each project will be tackled. They provide the “finish work.”
  5. Adopt the plan and commit to reviewing it regularly. A strategic plan should be formally adopted by a vote of the board. An annual review and revision is best done by a committee composed of both board and staff members.

Who should be involved in the process?
At a minimum, the board of directors and the senior staff need to be involved actively in all major steps of the process. Sometimes, a planning committee guides the process and coordinates the participation of others. The assessment stage particularly may involve getting input from a range of internal stakeholders and external experts. These may include affiliate (national/local) representatives, allied organization leaders, clients, donors, members, neighbors, partners, referral sources, sponsors, and authorities on the subjects most relevant to the organization’s purposes.

When should the process be undertaken?
Every organization without a strategic plan should have one. So, in general, there is no virtue in waiting. However, there are certain circumstances when some delay is prudent. Do not attempt to launch a planning process if the organization is about to change executive leadership or is in the midst of dealing with a crisis.

What happens when the planning process is completed?
It is critically important for the plan to be monitored regularly and revised as appropriate. Even more importantly, the plan is worth nothing without an implementation schedule. As soon as the plan is adopted by the board, prepare a timetable that assigns goals and objectives to lead individuals and provides dates for progress and/or completion. A date should also be set for an annual review.


In addition to being an Adjunct Faculty member in the B.A. Program of Antioch University Los Angeles, Guest Blogger David Norgard is the founder of OD180, a consulting firm that develops strategies for nonprofit organizations. He has also held leadership roles on various nonprofit boards and committees. At present, he serves as the President of Integrity USA, the Episcopal Church’s LGBT advocacy group. A graduate of AULA’s M.A. in Organizational Management program, David currently serves as Chair of AULA’s Alumni & Community Advisory Board. He also holds a B.A. magna cum laude from Augsburg College and an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School, where he received a Dean’s Citation for Community Service and an Award of Distinction among Alumni.