What Color Is Your Hoodie?
What? You don’t have a hoodie? You have one but you don’t wear it to the office, press conferences, and business appointments? We suggest you read the 7-06-11 Wall Street Journal article and get with the program if you expect to lead young people and/or think your organization will have a multi-generational legacy.
O.K. so your organization is not based in Silicon Valley and the players in your world are not wearing hoodies…yet…While the WSJ article has a lot to say about perks and such, the important point from a leadership perspective is that accessing creativity and passion is a major strategic advantage, and rapid change is afoot within the generations of the workforce, in your markets and the financial world. While we are half joking about the hoodie, we are urging you, as with our recent Lady Gaga post, and General Stanley McChrystal post, to really consider what it means to lead a multi-generational workforce.
How willing are you to change your views and cause your leadership team to learn how to lead and manage multiple generations successfully? Here is a very simple example from a company workshop I recently facilitated. During the workshop we laughed about how the founder, as recently as the early ’90’s, would walk around the office at 7:45 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. to see who was at their desk working. This was his number one test for gauging “best employees.” Today the younger generation of leaders who deal with many 20-something employees are learning entirely new ways to evaluate these associates.
It is a challenge to any leader to know for sure who is working hard and, more importantly, to lead in a way that calls forth creativity, passion, and dedication, particularly now. Many workers work from home or are at other off site locations. Some come in later or leave early to deal with kids. Others work at their computers with their headsets on listening to music and perhaps shopping or “Facebooking” in mid-day. Ask for a report and they may surf the web, create a “mash up” and give you a 20 page document that they did at home at 11 p.m.
Is this your worst employee, your best, or just another member of the team? Your challenge may well go way beyond being able to simply answer that question. You may have to re-train yourself to draw out creativity and passion rather than stifle it. If thoughts like “disrespectful,” “insubordinate,” “unreliable,” or “screw up” come to mind, you will likely be facing ineffectiveness and obsolescence as a leader.
All is not lost if you create a new context or frame-of-mind for your leadership. To be successful, you will have to be much more connected with your people. You will have to relate to them as diverse individual human beings rather than physical objects that are tools in your tool kit. This will take development work on your part. A good start is to check out General Stanley McChrystal’s TED talk. He has a great section in there on working with multiple generations.