The Challenges and Benefits of the Multi-Generational Workplace

The Challenges and Benefits of the Multi-Generational Workplace

Gerri King, Ph.D.

Imagine a gathering where people speak different languages, come from a variety of cultures, and see the world through diverse lenses.  Consider that multi-generations in an organization might replicate that situation. 

This is the first time in American history that it’s not unusual to have four, sometimes five, generations working side-by-side.  It has caused a good deal of disruption, except in organizations where it is viewed as an opportunity rather than a problem.

Is it challenging?  Yes.  However, consider the spectrum represented:  new ideas as well as institutional wisdom; technological comfort as well as informational depth; and a workforce that understands customers of all ages.  If you have a variety of generations represented, together they embody one perfect person.

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Succession Planning: Not For Family Businesses Only 

Succession Planning: Not For Family Businesses Only! 

Gerri King, Ph.D.

Succession planning has traditionally been considered the domain of the family within a family business. It is just recently accepted that the rationale for grooming successors should be at all levels of every organization.

With the baby boomers retiring in large numbers and the job opportunities expanding, the talent pool is shrinking. Additionally, the belt-tightening measures taken during economic downturns have eliminated a lot of people that might have been eligible for promotion. The general wisdom is that offering jobs to external candidates may not be the most effective way to fill positions. There are those that believe all organizations must hire, not just for today’s needs, but also with a look toward the future.

Grooming internal candidates ensures continuity, enhances skill levels, and helps the transition process appear more seamless because training begins long before an employee is promoted. Someone starting anew is far more expensive, during the interim, than a person who holds the history and institutional knowledge that is the foundation of a well functioning organization. The cost of overlapping the outgoing employee with the incoming person, for training purposes, is far less than a new hire trying to learn the job in isolation.

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Strategic Planning Is A Messy Process

Strategic Planning Is A Messy Process

Gerri King, Ph.D.

Strategic Planning connotes an organized, step-by-step effort. It’s true, but it’s also quite messy because it’s a change initiative. In fact, the only reason to have a strategy is to effect change and, whether it’s negative or positive, all changes are stressful because with gains there are losses. We’re giving up the familiar and heading toward the unknown.

Though often executed by the leadership team, if done correctly, the strategic planning process should include everyone at every level of the organization. (Remember, the people who do the job every day know how best to solve the problems.) Good assessments will provide the necessary information to move forward and, predictably, a lot of unexpected information will emerge - often derailing the original plan.

In the interest of moving fast, it’s rare that the appropriate amount of time is allowed. The ideal is to spend a month in the pre-planning mode; 3 days for the leadership team and facilitator to create a framework from which to proceed; 6-12 months to assess, collect input, and create the plan; and 4-5 years for full implementation. Caution: do not even begin unless the senior leadership team is committed to seeing through from deployment to inclusion to implementation. Anything less will lead to cynicism among the employees and, ultimately, your external customers.

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Does Punishment Really Work? A Case for the Punishment-Free Environment

Does Punishment Really Work? A Case for the Punishment-Free Environment

Gerri King, Ph.D.

What’s Wrong with “Punishment?”

• Punishment is usually a short-term solution without long-term, positive effects.

• Punishment often models exactly those behaviors and values we’d like children to avoid.

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The Downside of Merit Pay

The Downside of Merit Pay

Gerri King, Ph.D.

This is going to counter what most people believe, most organizations do, and most wisdom suggests. But, for the few minutes it takes to read this article, I ask that you suspend what you have been told and what you've experienced.

The question is provocative: Is it possible that Merit Pay doesn’t work? I have increasingly begun to question the practice. I'm beginning to believe that merit pay may reduce motivation, lower productivity, and possibly create a toxic atmosphere.

As though these weren’t enough, it may also increase divisiveness and hurt teamwork. Staff members should not be in competition with one another. Whenever possible, they should be working together to create a superior learning and productive environment.

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Set Up A Mentorship Program

Set Up A Mentorship Program

Gerri King, Ph.D.

The mentoring partnership is an agreement between two people to share experiences and expertise toward helping with personal and professional growth.

What does it take to be a mentor?

  • Mentors need to have the desire to share what they have learned during their careers.

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Mergers and Acquisitions

Mergers and Acquisitions Why 40%-60% of Them Fail

Gerri King, Ph.D.

When mergers and acquisitions fail, the event is often marked by surprise and shock. “The numbers worked, the market seemed ready, and the products were compatible, so what could possibly have gone wrong?”

The literature shows (and common sense supports) that most often the problems can be traced to the lack of attention paid to the integration of cultures, staff, processes, best practices, and philosophies. As a result

  • Retention of key employees, at all levels, is compromised,

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Success-Avoidance and its Effect on Motivation

Success-Avoidance and its Effect on Motivation

Gerri King, Ph.D.

Abraham Maslow suggests that after physiological needs, safety needs must be met in order to achieve at higher levels. I contend that success can be viewed as a threat to safety. Just look at where success may lead and consider the trade-offs involved. As examples, here are some real life reactions from students with whom I've talked.

Success may lead to:
• An expectation that it continue: many youngsters talked of the burden of getting good grades. "If I do well one semester, they'll expect me to continue to get A's. If I do poorly, they think it's great if I occasionally get a high grade, but they're not pushing me to do it all the time."

• Less freedom to make mistakes: The following was a typical response, "Hey, I'm considered a "screw-up". It's expected. I don't want anybody saying' 'we don't expect that of you'. I get to do what I want."

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Managing Conflict 

Managing Conflict 

Gerri King, Ph.D.

On-going conflict is rarely about the issue being discussed; more often it's about how the conversation is being handled. Within minutes, it's not unusual for someone to say "You're not listening to me" or "You always talk to me like that." Once that happens, there is then conflict about the conflict, which is much more apt to produce emotional stress and linger in our minds, hearts, and memories.

To avoid this unnecessary situation, it is essential to reduce miscommunication by increasing our listening and responding skills. More importantly, whenever there is an opportunity, we should share what we know about our individual styles of communication, conflict resolution, and stress reaction.

If we truly understand other people's styles, we are less likely to take responses personally; to project what we would be thinking or feeling if we used that style; and to hang on to difficult interchanges in a way that affects future interaction.

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Managing Change 

Managing Change 

Gerri King, Ph.D.

Life would be more comfortable if clichés helped. "Change is the only constant." "Without change we'd never have progress." "Change should be embraced."

If only it were that easy.

Scientists talk about the ripple effect of one small change on ecosystems in the natural world. Change has the same effect on patterns and systems we set up in our own lives.

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Becoming A Blame-free Organization

Becoming A Blame-free Organization

Gerri King, Ph.D.

Removing blame from a company’s environment results in an increase in productivity and collaboration.

What’s Wrong with “Blame?”

  • If it works, it’s a short-term solution without positive long-term effects.

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Before Downsizing, Talk With Employees!

Before Downsizing, Talk With Employees

Gerri King, Ph.D.

During these difficult times, organizations in both the private and public sectors are desperately trying to find ways to reduce expenses and create budgets that will secure a future. An obvious approach is to lay people off.

Cutting employees is not only traumatic for those whose positions are affected, it’s difficult for the survivors. They stand to lose their friends and colleagues, and they find themselves waiting for “the other shoe to fall,” wondering if they’ll be next. Morale decreases and guilt is pervasive. Stress increases. Productivity goes down.

Ironically, it's common to assume that those employees who survive the layoffs should be delighted, as well as relieved. It's also often assumed that survivors do not need attention in both the short and long term. In fact, those that retain their jobs are often very distraught. They can hardly celebrate when their friends and colleagues have been downsized. They're now responsible for more work, some of which is outside their areas of expertise, which can result in low self-esteem and feelings of incompetence.

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The Duh! Approach To Management and Supervision: Dispelling Common Leadership Myths

People are promoted because they’re good at their jobs. Being in a leadership position is a very different job, for which most are not trained. Why they’re not trained is a bit of a mystery. It’s as though colleges and professional schools don’t expect their graduates to move beyond the entry level.

Interestingly, well-intentioned managers, doing their best to be good organizational leaders, often repeat unhelpful supervisory practices experienced in their early careers, even if they disliked them at the time. Here are just a few commonly held beliefs that I dare to call myths. They are meant to start the conversation.

Those at the top should present a united front. Presumably you gather a variety of people when addressing concerns and making decisions because you want diverse input. You can be united around the final decision but share your struggles and areas of disagreement so employees know that their viewpoints were represented.

All change should be embraced. Positive change is just as stressful as negative change because with every gain there is a loss. Empathize with those who are struggling and offer them training and support rather than insisting that they immediately “get on board.”

If finances, product alignment and geography are compatible, mergers and acquisitions will go smoothly. It is said that 40%-60% of mergers and acquisitions fail because of a lack of cultural integration. Easily solved if time is spent at the outset engaging in cultural mapping and conversations with employees at all levels of the organizations. The people who do the job every day know how to solve the problems.

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