Tending The Leadership Pipeline: It’s All About Engagement

Workplace lore has it that a manager who hires a millennial is facing a number of challenges. Among them: how to engage and retain a generation marked as me-centric, fickle, not versed in social or business etiquette and prone to jumping ship six months after utilizing an expensive bout of training. Yet millennials are now the majority of the workforce — and they’re not kids anymore. And I’m growing tired of everyone placing labels on this generation vs that generation. It’s We Generation after all. They’re, we’re already rising up through the ranks to positions of leadership, in some cases they’re, we’re building credible and thriving organizations. It’s time to start tending our talent pipelines with a sense of their maturity and potential — which means deepening your commitment to employee engagement in ways that fully embrace our new skills and mindsets. Nothing could be more important right about now.

Here are four ways to push for more real employee engagement and optimize your leadership and talent pipeline:

  1. Pay attention to their ambitions.According to Deloitte’s fourth annual Millennial Survey, which includes 7,800 future leaders from 29 countries. The bottom line is that there’s a compelling skills gap: just 28 percent of Millennials feel that their current organization is making full use of their skills. But more than half (53 percent) aspire to become the leader or most senior executive within their current organization. To keep them ambitious about their current organization takes a commitment to engage them, providing them with the increasing training and challenges needed to grow.
  1. Mind the gender/confidence gap. Combine the success of women in leadership roles and the mistaken assumption that millennials are somehow immune to the gender gap, and you wind up with a potentially damaging disconnect that may cost you future leaders. As it turns out, women millennials are still lacking parity in terms of ambition with their male counterparts. The Deloitte survey found that 59 % of men aspire to the top job in their organization, versus 47% of women. Yet they’re not lacking self-awareness of their aptitudes, and in this regard, women are actually ahead: in terms of professionalism, hard work, time keeping and discipline, woman actually rated themselves higher (45%) than men (37%). Again, it’s a question of engagement.
  1. Encourage cross-mentoring. despite any sense of intergenerational attitude gaps, enabling the cross-mentoring of generations in the workplace has obvious advantages, including a broader span of knowledge and expertise, and clear exchange of social, emotional and leadership intelligence. Create opportunities where Gen-Xers and boomers can mentor millennials, and you’re creating a pipeline of future leaders that will sort itself out: those who rise to the top in many organizations are those who will be able to leverage the wisdom of experience into their own skill set, and apply it to leadership roles.
  1. Fully merge the company culture with social and mobile. We are now all digital citizens, as my friend Kevin W. Grossman noted recently, and in order to fully engage the very generations that are going to lead us (let’s not forget about Generation Z), there can’t be any gaps in a company’s social and mobile presence. That folds back, as well to that Deloitte statistic that only 28 percent of Millennials feel that their current organization is making full use of their skills. And let’s not forget who is going to make up the bulk of consumers.

The presence of this generation has already changed the workplace, but now it’s beginning to change the face of leadership as well. Ground people in the values and mission of the organization, but let them leverage their de-facto mobile and social culture as they begin to reshape the workplace as well, or you’ll hamper the growth of the business.

And each generation of leaders has had their own communication style — so here’s one thing to remember. You may not feel comfortable getting a text or tweet instead of an email, or an IM instead of a phone call. But it’s the same business, and if you’ve aligned your future leaders with the mission of the organization, there’s nothing to worry about. Trust me on this.

A version of this was first posted on Forbes.

5 Methods for Social Leadership: Try Reverse Mentoring

I’ve been thinking a lot about global leadership applications for social learning lately. I spend a portion of my time helping companies and leaders hire and retain the very best and most applicable talent based on personality and skill set so this is a topic on my mind literally on a weekly basis. I have run into a recurrent trending theme in the past few years – reverse mentoring. It’s no secret there are greater numbers of older workers in the workplace right now; many baby boomers have evaporated retirement funds due to the recession, which means fewer career positions for recent graduates.

Nevertheless, times are always changing in the world of work, new workers are entering the workplace with much different expectations for leaders and team culture. They may be less willing to play the game of climbing the corporate ladder and more convinced skipping rungs is the new norm as they navigate the management ranks. It’s inevitable that these generations will be in competition for jobs held by older workers, creating tension and potential workplace unhappiness. This is why I think the only antidote to this unavoidable outcome is mutual trust from leaders and employees alike.

You might be wondering: How do you build real trust in a workplace that is both social and multi-generational? Reverse mentoring is one way to do it while creating space to build enduring relationships that transcend age and pay grade.

Let’s be honest, if you’ve been in the workplace for more than a minute you’ve already been mentored, usually by an older worker but maybe even by someone younger than you are. Maybe it was your manager, or his or her manager, or a colleague from another department, but someone offered the lifeline of advice, informal training, support and cultural clues to help you thrive and survive in the organization. Is this YOU? These links are critical to individual development in a workplace culture where formal schooling and degrees give workers about five years’ worth of usable skills, say John Hagel, Co-chairman – Deloitte LLP Center for the Edge, and other people over at Harvard Business Review.

Time is a ticking at lightning social speed, and five years isn’t much time to build a career path, let alone pay off student loans. For older workers it may feel like a threat – if you earned your degree in 1982, how on earth can they expect you to keep up? The need to keep re-tooling skills underscores the value of mentoring, particularly bi-directional mentoring. Let’s look at how organizations can create a mentoring workplace culture which works both up and down the chain of relationships and leadership channels. Who knows, there may even be an argument for mentoring as an aid to reconcile older workers to the reality of being managed by younger, probably less experienced people.

The very best mentoring workplace cultures rely on a mix of formal, informal and social learning, explicit mentoring programs, support for cross-functional teams, and consistency in management treatment of the work population.

Here are 5 methods I suggest to build a workplace and leadership culture to support bi-directional “AKA” reverse mentoring:

  1. Create a management playbook for culture-building. Managers, especially in the HR side of the house, sometimes rely on employee handbooks and training as a way to transmit culture (and rules). Too often these programs don’t cover management’s responsibility to employees. Creating a healthy multi-generational culture requires consistent, transparent communications, clear expectations for managers, and creative programs to encourage learning and peaceful co-existence among employees of all ages. Valve gets a shout-out for its guide to company culture!
  1. Reward workplace flexibility. Leaders, don’t panic – I’m not saying have no rules – every community and group needs rules, but reward flexible thinking, which means being open to new ideas and ways of doing things. Flexible cultures provide lots of room for mentoring relationships to flourish and encourage a culture of learning that spans generations.
  1. Institute global mentoring programs that ignore age and rank. These can be based on skills, interests or, if you’re a really attentive manager and the organization is a still small, temperament or personality mesh with your colleagues. Assign mentoring teams to new employees so if personalities clash mentoring still continues. Make sure mentoring teams represent an age-and-skills cross section of the organization; you want to create an environment of cross-generational and skills trust and learning. And check in with employees on the effectiveness of the teams. Feedback is critical for your success. It’s almost worse to have unmonitored mentoring programs than no mentoring at all.
  1. Consider out-of-the-box job categories. There are many technology innovators and leaders that created a career path for those who opted out of management: members of technical staff tend to fit into this category. This is perfectly fine – not everyone is passionate about taking on a management role. As workers spend more time on the job their interests and focus will change; be prepared, not with a short-term plan and a not-so-gentle push, by creating job categories to keep experienced older workers engaged while allowing eager youngsters to rise through the ranks. These workers will be great mentors for the up-and-comers, by the way.
  1. Socialize mentoring, learning and workplace culture initiatives. You won’t be successful if you send an email simply telling people to be mentors, coaches or team-mates. Show you have a stake in the game: be part of a mentoring team. Be a coach. Live the role and others will see and feel this from your leadership.

Show you truly care about learning, informal, formal or social. Test these assumptions weekly and be ready to rewrite the playbook where it doesn’t hold up.

Leaders – Be The One. It Starts With You.

A version of this post was published on on 9/23/12

photo credit: Smell of fortune via photopin (license)

Let Your Millennials Manage

There is a widespread opinion among HR and leadership professionals, that millennials are the most terrible group of workers who have ever entered the workforce. They are a constant pain for HR and leadership and a unlimited source of content for journalists and content marketers.

The Worst Generation Ever

They crave attention, need feedback and think only about themselves. Not to mention the fact, that they want to change jobs every few years and have no idea how to manage money. So no one in their right mind would put a millennial in a manager position. Maybe in 10 years, when they’ve accumulated enough experience and calmed down (and, to be fair, when there is no one else left to choose from and the next generation becomes the Worse. Thing. Ever).

Yet Millennials has many qualities previous generations don’t.

Young people have developed a mind that easily handles many things at once, they are ambitions and motivated to go far. They are willing to learn and open to feedback,

For me, all those these assets sound like traits of leadership. True, they don’t have a lot of experience yet, because they finished college last week. But how should they ever get those skills when they are not given a chance to lead. I don’t try to say that being a millennial should be the one criteria for deciding if a person is fit for management, but you also can’t let it be the reason not to choose him.

Future Leaders

According to a study by Deloitte, when it comes to leadership, millennials value transparency and fairness. They value clear communications and as leaders they understand the need for truthful feedback to themselves and their teams.

All those values are also part of what generations Y and Z expect from their managers. So it makes sense to let millennials manage millennials. They will work well together, increase engagement and cater the needs of the younger workforce.

A mindset with those perks should be a welcomed addition to any company’s leadership.
Most millennials would also welcome a chance to lead. 70% of respondents want to launch their own company one day. Only thing that’s holding them back is their lack of experience and knowledge.

We live in an age when all you need to create a company is an idea and a laptop. So millennials who are held back due to their age, are more than likely to quit soon and create their own companies and start-ups.

They will be CEOs and managers and then they’ll be your competitors.

Keep Your Millennials Close

Giving millenniums with leadership potential a managerial role now, will give them a desire to stay loyal to you and your company. This is the way to make sure they’ll still be with you, when thy are in their 30s and have tons of experience thanks to having years of feedback from their peers.

HR and leadership face many problems and dangers every day. Often because there are a countless number of articles that say you have to adapt to the workforce.

Millennials, in management or as employees, don’t have to be the reason you lose sleep at night. Instead they should be your golden ticket to success.

Image: bigstock

#TChat Preview: Why Multi-Generational Leadership Activism Is In

The TalentCulture #TChat Show is back live on Wednesday, August 19, 2015, from 1-2 pm ET (10-11 am PT).

Last week we talked about how social networking and the job search pay off, and this week we’re going to talk about why multi-generational leadership activism is in.

Regardless of pop culture wisdom, every generation wants to change the world, and millennials are no exception. But every new generation’s flaws are also stereotyped and criticized by the mainstream media, to the point where it’s non-productive.

What if these very criticisms were the foundation for refreshing new leadership? The good news is they can be, if mentored and nurtured accordingly.

In fact, this isn’t the age to just mentor millennials. We can learn better ways to grow our own talent and leadership skills from different generations. Engagement is out. Activism is in.

Sneak Peek:

#TChat Events: Why Multi-Generational Leadership Activism Is In

TChatRadio_logo_020813#TChat Radio — Wed, Aug 19 — 1 pm ET / 10 am PT

Join TalentCulture #TChat Show co-founders and co-hosts Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman as they talk about why multi-generational leadership activism is in with this week’s guests: Jon Mertz, thought leader, author and a Leader to Watch in 2015 by the American Management Association; and Danny Rubin, Millennial communications expert and author.


Tune in LIVE online Wednesday, Aug 19

#TChat Twitter Chat — Wed, Aug 19 — 1:30 pm ET /10:30 am PT Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin, and Jon will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where we’ll continue the discussion with the entire TalentCulture community. Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we gather for a dynamic live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: What new leadership skills do younger generations bring to business? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q2: Should leadership mentoring be cross-generational in business today? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q3: What are career development truths we all need to embrace today? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Until then, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed, our TalentCulture World of Work Community LinkedIn group, and in our TalentCulture G+ community. So feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions. See you there!!!

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Class of 2013 Goes To Work #TChat Recap

Written by guest blogger, Katie Paterson

The HR community is so generous! This week at the SHRM conference in Chicago, as well as in online #TChat discussions, you’ve helped Achievers and TalentCulture spotlight issues and opportunities facing the next wave of graduates who are entering the workforce.

The ideas flowed freely throughout the week, from the moment we started pouring margaritas at our #SHRM13 booth! Below are summary points about key #TChat topics, followed by resource links and a Storify highlights slideshow. Thanks to everyone for contributing such useful insights!

Social Tools For Job Seekers

LinkedIn received resounding support as the top social hiring hub. Twitter earned some votes as a secondary portal, with other major players like Facebook and Google+ mentioned in supporting roles.

An interesting sidebar thread touched on tools for showcasing professional portfolios. Pinterest was mentioned as a smart choice, as well as tools designed specifically for portfolios, such as Seelio.

Onboarding Improvement

Mentoring received popular support as a way to strengthen employee indoctrination. Workplace “sherpas” are a natural, easy way to introduce new hires to company culture, workgroup standards, and individual responsibilities. And #TChat-ters agreed that this practice is effective for both recent grads, as well as workforce veterans.

“Buddy systems” were also mentioned as a way to connect new hires with one another as they move through the new-hire experience together. Seasoned employees can offer organizational context, but new hires can bond as they learn from each other, in parallel.

Performance Evaluation Frequency

I think @ValaAfshar said it best:

The #TChat community universally applauded continuous constructive feedback, and @Achievers couldn’t agree more. Several chat participants pushed the concept further — indicating that those who are responsible for providing for feedback should also ask for feedback and suggestions, in return.

Why Recognize Employees?

This point might be preaching to the choir, because #TChat-ters were emphatic about recognizing great performance. But it’s noteworthy that two kinds of benefits were mentioned:

1) Human motivation: Many responses focused out how important it is for individuals to hear about their progress — especially when they meet or exceed expectations.

2) Business advantage: Other comments focused on the fact that recognition helps align employees — reinforcing and redirecting work to keep everyone moving together toward organizational goals.

Improving Retention

To engage recent hires, you recommended multiple ways of involving them in the organization. We couldn’t agree more! Offering meaningful work, fostering an inclusive team environment, and tying individual contributions to a broader mission keeps employees engaged and coming back for more.

It’s important to ask for opinions, provide opportunities for growth, and demonstrate consistently that employees are valued. If you inspire passion in your employees, they’ll reward you — not only by remaining loyal, by being your most consistent and vocal ambassadors.

For more information on what motivates the graduating class of 2013, check out Achievers’ latest whitepaper.

#TChat Week in Review

WED 6/12

#TChat Sneak Peek:  Kevin W. Grossman examined the emotional factors that drive employee engagement in a teaser post: “Feeling The Future Of Work: #TChat Meets #SHRM13.”

SAT 6/15

#TChat Preview: Our Community Manager, Tim McDonald, introduced the week’s topics and special #SHRM13 events in his post, “Stronger! #TChat Preview #SHRM13 Edition.”

SUN 6/16 Post: In her weekly Forbes column, TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro, offered advice about how companies should attract and retain next-generation talent. Read “Smart Leaders Engage Tomorrow’s Workforce.”

MON 6/17

Margarita Monday Meet-up: #SHRM13 attendees timed-out with Meghan and Kevin at the Achievers booth, while hearing about the latest research on “The Class of 2013: Understanding the Needs of the Future Workforce.” If you missed this event, we invite you to attend the Achievers webinar on June 26 (or on-demand after that date).

WED 6/19

#TChat Twitter: #TChat-ters came together on the Twitter stream for our dynamic weekly idea exchange. If you missed the real-time Twitter action, or would like to review highlights, watch the slideshow below:

#TChat Twitter Highlights: “Looking Forward: Class of 2013”

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Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about the Class of 2013, or future workforce opportunities and challenges? We’d love to share your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week we’re tackling a big topic — literally! Big Data in HR! Stay tuned for details this weekend. And remember: starting next week #TChat Radio moves to Wednesday nights at 6:30pmET — back-to-back with #TChat Twitter!

Until then, the World of Work conversation continues each day. Join us on the #TChat Twitter stream, or on our new LinkedIn discussion group. And feel free to explore other areas of our redesigned website. The gears are always turning at TalentCulture, and your ideas and opinions are always welcome.

See you on the stream!

katieprofile.lpeg(Author Profile: Katie Paterson is the Social Media Community Manager at Achievers, where she is focused on building an online community of Human Resources professionals who want to learn how engaged employees can impact business results. She is passionate about the world of social media, its impact on the workforce, and how it can be integrated into the our lives personally and professionally.)

Image Credit: Stock.xchng


Stronger! #TChat Preview #SHRM13 Edition

(Editor’s Note: Are you looking for a full review of this week’s events and resources? Read the #TChat Recap: The Class of 2013 Goes To Work.”)

Hello Chicago: #TChat Is In The House!

Buzz is everywhere in Chicago and on social media channels, as nearly 20,000 human resources professionals descend upon the city for the annual SHRM Conference & Exposition.

And, as Kevin W. Grossman noted in his recent SHRM “save-the-dates” post, he and his TalentCulture co-founder, Meghan M. Biro will be working the aisles, leading live events and posting updates on the  #SHRM13 Twitter backchannel throughout the week.

As promised, below are details of #TChat events that talent-minded professionals don’t want to miss. So join us! Whether you’re live on the floor, or half-a-world away — the lights are always on, and you’re always welcome to contribute to our “world of work” conversation!

Bolder. Better. Stronger.


Visit the SHRM conference community site

These three words capture the aspirations of #SHRM13 organizers. Nice choice. To those of us at TalentCulture, they represent the promise of a workforce that is empowered to redefine organizational culture and performance. It’s a fearless approach to the future. But talent-minded professionals don’t have to go it alone. Instead, we can leverage the power of a broader professional community — sharing ideas and experiences that can move us all forward, faster.

But what do these three words mean for the next wave — those who are graduating from school, and looking at the world of work from a fresh perspective? It’s estimated that by 2025, Gen Y “millennials” will represent more than 75% of the workforce. That’s a huge generational shift. No wonder Meghan Biro says in that it’s smart for leaders to engage tomorrow’s workforce.

Building Bench Strength: It’s A Process

It’s one thing to recognize the importance of connecting with next-generation workers. But that begs another question: What can organizations do to drive engagement? It’s time to share some credible insights. And that’s the focus of our special “Class of 2013” #TChat events this week:

Achievers Promo

Learn more about the #SHRM13 Meetup

MONDAY JUNE 17 — 3:15-4:00pm Central Time (4:15pmET/1:15pmPT)
Margarita Meet-up at Achievers Booth #2455
“Class of 2013” Panel Discussion

Not to be missed. Meghan and Kevin will multi-task — mixing margaritas while moderating a live panel of HR executives! This should be a fun and fascinating discussion. We’ll highlight key results from a recent workplace expectations survey of 10,000+ graduating students, conducted by our partners at Achievers, in association with ConnectEDU.

WEDNESDAY JUNE 19 — 6:00-7:00pm Central Time (7-8pmET/4-5pmPT)
#TChat Twitter — with Moderator, Katie Paterson, Community Manager, Achievers
“Looking Forward: The Graduating Class of 2013

Let’s talk in more depth about why and how the next generation of leaders is influencing change across all HR functions — from recruiting, onboarding and development, to peformance management, recognition and retention. More importantly, what do these changes imply about the future of work, and the nature of employer/employee relationships?

Q1: What digital “social” tools are job seekers using today to leverage their networks and find jobs. Why?

Q2: How do orgs improve onboarding for new grads with little or no work experience? For seasoned veterans?

Q3: If performance drives business, how often should employees be evaluated and why? What about PT and contract?

Q4: Why is it important to recognize the individual in the workplace regardless of age or experience?

Q5: What can HR leaders do to improve retention for hired new grads and all talent ecosystems?

What are your thoughts? Whether you’re onsite or not, we hope you’ll weigh-in with your ideas, questions and opinions.

We’ll see you here in Chicago — and on the stream!

Image Credit: Pixabay