Will the strategy succeed? Is this the right move at the right time? I know we CEOs have all spent many nights pondering these questions and weighing the possible outcomes. Overall, it can
be a complex endeavor.

There are a variety of variables and unique circumstances that come into play for any business, but here’s a simple equation that can be a handy part of your decision-making process when assessing the probability of success for a strategy:

Confidence in our people x confidence in our strategy x the level of coordinated activity = our probability of success

The equation’s value rests on your ability to be honest. Your evaluations need to be fair and realistic to provide the best data. If you aren’t fully confident in an area, that’s OK. It’s about making the best decisions for your company and your people — and that requires honesty.

Let’s look at each part of the equation:

People

Ask: What is my level of confidence in their ability to successfully execute the strategy?

Honestly assess: While we all would like to automatically say we have 100 percent confidence in everyone at every instance, in reality, the percentage may be lower for a number of reasons.

Perhaps the responsible leader is new and relatively inexperienced. Or maybe the team already has a full strategic workload with little excess capacity to engage in a new strategy.

Strategy

Ask: What is my level of confidence in the strategy?

Honestly assess: Not all strategies are created equal. The origins and the completeness of a strategy will determine the level of confidence in the strategy itself. Consider the process and if it was created by the boss, visionaries or tacticians? Is it proactive or reactive?

Activity

Ask: What is my confidence in the level of coordinated activity associated with the strategy? 

Honestly assess: All too often, great strategies and great people are handcuffed by the lack of coordinated activities. Before you can execute a strategy well, you may need to stop doing something else to create the strategic bandwidth to embrace the level of coordinated activity necessary for strategic success.

Now, let’s take a look at an example:

People: Let’s say you have a new leader and a fairly busy group. You decide your confidence in your people under these circumstances is at 90 percent.

Strategy: You have a great go-to-market strategy created by a visionary process. The only shortfall is the financials rely heavily on estimates, so your confidence is at 90 percent.

Activity: You believe the activity level is very high, but it lacks a certain level of management coordination, slowing success. It could be something as simple as an uncoordinated order entry process. Under these circumstances, let’s assess your level of confidence at 90 percent.

So here we go — what is our probability of success? At first blush, it looks like a 90 percent average. That’s an A- or a B+. Sounds good, right?

The reality is different, and here’s what you need to remember: Shortcomings, however small, tend to multiply quickly in business. This becomes clear when we work our equation: 90 percent x 90 percent x 90 percent = 72.9 percent. The probability of success is actually a very low C-. 

We have to make the best decisions we can for our people, and this equation can help us evaluate our circumstances and chart our course.

Joseph James Slawek is the founder, chairman and CEO of FONA International, a full-service flavor company serving some of the largest food, beverage, nutraceutical and pharmaceutical companies in the world. For more information, visit www.fona.com.

Published in Columnist

As temperatures rise, swimming pools aren’t the only things that will get more use. During the summer months, company leave policies are often put to the test as workers enjoy their hard-earned vacations. 

Paid time off policies, or PTO banks, have become the preferred alternative to traditional vacation plans. A majority of companies now utilize PTO banks, making it more popular than traditional policies that distinguish between vacation, sick and personal leave. Under a PTO model, all leave days are integrated into one pool, so employees can take days off at their discretion when they need them.

Companies of all sizes are adopting PTO policies. For one reason, businesses experience fewer unscheduled absences. Experts cite other advantages to PTO banks as well:

• Ease of administration. The PTO model is often easier to administer because it folds together vacation, sick time and personal leave. Vacation leave doesn't have to be coded differently than a sick day.

• Control over absences. When companies distinguish one type of leave from another, employees are likely to use every sick day granted to them whether they need it or not. With PTO banks, employees tend to save time off to use for vacation.

• Recruitment and retention. Employers are finding that PTO programs can make their companies more competitive when recruiting employees.

• Flexibility. The value of PTO banks is especially vital in industries that operate 24/7, such as the health care industry, because it offers optimum flexibility.

• Diversity. Today, employees celebrate a variety of cultural or religious holidays. PTO banks reflect a company's respect for employees' diversity by allowing them to schedule time off around their individual holiday calendar.

• Privacy. While most employees don't want to lie to their employers, they also may not want to announce that they are chaperoning a field trip or in need of a mental health day. A PTO bank allows employees to take time when they need it without having to explain it.

• Equity. There's a common perception that employees with children are allowed more time off than single people without children. PTO banks level the playing field, because everyone has access to time off based on service, so it's objective.

Despite these advantages, many employers and employees fear the unknown. Employees fear the possibility of an unexpected illness wiping out their accrued days, leaving them with no remaining vacation for a visit home at Christmas.

Employers fear potentially higher costs associated with a PTO policy. While other leave policies allow a payout for unused vacation time in the event of termination, under a PTO an employer cannot distinguish between vacation and sick leave, so all unused time must be paid out upon termination.

So how do you decide whether a traditional vacation policy or a PTO model is right for your company? Like most things, there isn’t one method that works for all companies. Ask yourself whether your company is seeing a problem with excess absenteeism or abuse of time off. If your traditional leave policy is working, there may be no compelling reason to change course.

For companies that want to provide their employees more flexibility, a PTO bank may work better. Not surprisingly, however, proper management is key to ensuring that PTO works effectively. Many companies enforce “use it or lose it” policies and setting carryover limits or accrual caps. Some companies even establish buy-back or donation provisions to allow employees to sell or donate unused days to coworkers who may have a greater need.

No matter which type of leave policy you have in place or plan to adopt, remember this — paid leave is an essential employee benefit, and it can serve as a powerful recruitment and retention tool.

John Allen, is president and COO of G&A Partners, a Texas-based HR and administrative services company that manages human resources, benefits, payroll, accounting and risk management for growing businesses. For information about the company, visit www.gnapartners.com.

Published in Columnist

You will never get it all done!

My first job out of grad school was managing one product line, no people and a “to do” list that was a mile long.

I remember breaking down to my dad one night, who at that time was a bank executive who managed multiple divisions, hundreds of people and a lot more responsibility than I could ever comprehend. I was beyond frustrated working 70+ hour work weeks yet I couldn’t manage to get everything done, and my to-do list kept growing!

That’s when Dad gave me some of the best advice that I have ever received. He said, “David, they don’t pay you to get it all done. They pay you to get the most important things done.” Wow! That simple phrase changed my life.

Let me clarify by saying that some jobs, entry level specifically, do warrant the employee to get everything done; all phones need to be answered, hamburgers cooked, etc. prior to leaving for the day.

But as we begin to move up the ranks of responsibility we don’t want to take this mentality with us. When we are managing people, places or things, the options of what we spend our time on grows exponentially. We can conduct training, print a new catalogue, go to a meeting ... the list goes on and on.

 

Learn to focus

So many options and requests on our time and soon, we find that we can never get it all done. This is why it is imperative that as we grow in our positions, we learn to focus on the right things.

The power of prioritization is undeniable in terms of your future success and in order to be exponentially successful, you must learn how to differentiate time management from prioritization.

Peter Drucker says it best: “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” Don’t waste your energy just crossing things off your “to do” list. Instead, spend some time prioritizing. Then pour your energy into the projects and tasks that you have deemed to be the most important things to complete today.

In the early days of Defender, I was a young entrepreneur obsessed with thoughts about how I could grow our business. As Defender grew, our team members were presented with new opportunities everywhere we turned.

While sometimes it was hard to turn away from an opportunity to sell what was presented as the “next big thing,” early on I took a step back to really evaluate our business. Every time we said yes to a new idea or product, it meant more training, more options, more complexity.

 

Stay in focus

Success does create more and new opportunities, but that means we must stay focused say no more often! Otherwise, our team and focus will fragment and slow us down.

I hear so many stressed out business leaders say, “But it’s all important!” However, by definition, if everything is important, then nothing is important.

If you want to be the leader of a high performance, fast-growth business, then your No. 1 job is to figure out what is most important and to "keep the main thing as the main thing."

Still, today I divide my to-do list into A,B,C and D priorities and every morning I write my top three A priorities on a Post-It note, which I carry with me throughout the day as a reminder to keep me focused.

If each day I can get my top three most important things done amongst the chaos of life, I figure I'll have a pretty successful life.

Remember, there will always be more things to do than there is time to do them. You’ll never get it all done and your “to do” list will never be empty. Let this philosophy release you from the stress of trying to get it all done and put that new energy into getting the right things done today.

Published in Columnist

Nothing builds and sustains credibility better for a business professional than when he or she can lead by example.Whether you take the time to chat with new colleagues before a meeting, help out with a difficult project, or are the first to ask the hard questions, you alone are responsible for setting standards and expectations.

As a father, husband and business intermediary, people count on me for advice, leadership and guidance. I found the best way to earn their trust is by setting a good example.

Actions speak louder than words, particularly when your attitude and behavior motivate people to do their best work. Doing otherwise only confuses the people who look up to you.

By incorporating the following practices into your life, you will not only improve the way others perceive you, but you will also feel better about the way you are presenting yourself as a person that others will follow and emulate — the very definition of leading by example.

 

Get involved

While working your “day job” may already be taking up too much of your time, getting involved in industry organizations may be just the thing you need to advance your career and set a positive example for others. I am involved professional organizations such as the Georgia Association of Business Brokers, the International Business Brokers Association, Rotary International and Street Grace.

I have found that getting out from behind my computer can be a challenge.  But meeting new people and talking big-picture about my industry has been crucial to my professional advancement.

Joining professional organizations in my field has given me a chance to do just that. Best of all, most organizations have local chapters so I did not even have to travel very far to get involved.

 

Put family first

Putting family first is something that we all strive to do, but in today’s busy world, most of us have jobs that do not allow for much free time to spend with our family.

I know that trying to put family first above everything else may seem like a mission and not knowing how to do this can make things even harder. Jobs can be a huge part of our lives and sometimes our jobs can get out of hand and make us spend less and less time with our families.

I make it a point to be involved in my children and wife’s lives as much as possible. Taking interest in their hobbies and being an active participant is a great way to spend time with your family.

I am a lacrosse coach and Cub Scout den leader. In these roles I have the opportunity to shape lives and demonstrate to other parents how they can become involved in youth organizations to point kids in the right direction.

 

Look to your community

The best way to stay involved in your community is through maintaining a commitment to make a positive impact in the environment in which you work, live and play. You can gain respect, friendship and pride through community involvement.

One of the most satisfying, fun, and productive ways to lead by example and get involved in your community is through volunteerism.  When you commit your time and effort to an organization or a cause you feel strongly about, the feeling of fulfillment can be endless.

Your peers, colleagues and family members are always watching you and taking notice to what you do. They will see the benefits of being involved in professional organizations, putting family first and being involved their communities.

Owner of the North Atlanta office of Murphy Business & Financial Corp., Reed has been serving clients for more than 20 years in the Atlanta, Ga., area as well as across the country. He is an accredited business intermediary, a licensed real estate broker and has owned and managed his own limited liability company. Reach him (678) 383-4781 or k.reed@murphybusiness.com

 

Published in Columnist

When we start off working as youngsters, most of us don’t have the common sense to move beyond our juvenile selves to assume more mature character traits appropriate for the workplace.

We also typically land in jobs where our potentially outrageous behavior can cause the least amount of damage — in my case, this included mating freshly-grilled burgers with appropriate-sized buns for the steamer storage bin at Burger King.

Later, our mismatched personalities of “future business mogul” and “party animal” duel it out in college during classes, internships and more responsible employment.

Then we madly scramble to figure out who we really are before we interview in the full-time professional world — where, of course, our potential employers think we’re only going to stay for two years anyway.

However, when each of us eventually enters the professional workforce, our youth and inexperience still typically dictate the creation of a brand new professional personality where one may not have existed before.

The result: a work-week personality vs. a weekend personality.

After all, it’s normally not advisable to do shots out of someone’s belly button in the Board Room.

As the years pass and our resumes expand, these dueling personalities pretty much have to unite as one — a multi-faceted persona, we can hope, but one nonetheless.

Even so, we were all young once. Beginning with everyone’s first foray into the workforce, an ongoing battle commences of “character” versus “characters” — who we are as compared to who we sometimes pretend to be.

Perception versus reality

These days, society doesn’t always help.

First, the wireless world has all but stripped today’s youth of the ability to communicate in person.

Then, with the increasing popularity of Reality TV, our “character” is often influenced by “characters” whose “reality” bears no resemblance to whom we are or who we should be.

For example, not immune to the allure of a Real Housewife, I still understand that I am sometimes being entertained by bad behavior while an impressionable youngster actually may tragically aspire to become “16 and Pregnant.”

And though “Saturday Night Live” alum Darrell Hammond has laid claim to the longest tenure of any SNL performer (1995-2009), this does not mean his personal character compares to the various “characters” he has portrayed: President Bill Clinton, Vice Presidents Al Gore and Dick Cheney, Regis Philbin and an Alex Trebek-loathing Sean Connery.

My recent chat with “businessman” Hammond revealed a man who sermonizes the value of hard work, determination and goal setting. He’s not really a president — he played one on TV.

At least pop-culture icon Judge Judy Sheindlin presents a reality-based version of the legal system — one that rewards polished communication skills, honesty, respect and even posture. Like her or not, Judge Judy’s least-successful guests suffer very public consequences stemming from a lack of preparation and yes, character.

Facing the job ahead

Of course, we can still complain about the seemingly selfish behavior of our younger generation, but before we throw Gen-Y under the bus. Who was driving the bus in the first place?

Weren’t today’s successful CEOs, VPs, senior managers and entrepreneurs also the parents who raised Gen-Y?

The bottom line: experienced business professionals must accept a more significant role in mentoring our young charges as they are essentially playing an adult version of Follow the Leader.

There is simply no greater example of character in business than a willingness to mentor and lead by example.

Though, to an actor such as Hammond, "honest" refers to a truthful portrayal of a character, using "honest" as a character trait resonates equally well in the business world.

After all, no one wants to deal with a business professional who is acting the part.

Real character matters.

Speaker, writer and “professional storyteller” Randall Kenneth Jones is the creator of RediscoverCourtesy.org and the president of MindZoo, a marketing communications firm in Naples, Fla. He can be reached at Randy@mindzoo.com or (571) 238-4572.

 

 

 

Published in Columnist

I drop off my clothes at the dry cleaner weekly and the staff is always friendly. A hello, good bye is always said but there are a few things that are missing.

1. A few weeks earlier, I dropped off some clothes and picked up and paid for the clothes that I had dropped off the week earlier. As I was getting out of the car I asked my son to bring in my dry cleaning. He said, “Dad — these clothes don’t look like yours.”

As I took a quick look, he was 100 percent right and two minutes later we were back at the dry cleaners exchanging the wrong clothes…. I hoped. Thankfully after 15 minutes they found my clothes and life was back to normal and my shirts were back with me.

The interesting thing was what the owner said or actually didn’t say. The only thing he said was, “Thanks for bringing back the clothes,” which I thought was very odd. There was no sorry for the mix up… no sorry for any inconvenience… in fact, no sorry at all.

Lesson No. 1: Say I’m sorry. It isn’t a sign of weakness; it isn’t a sign of embarrassment. Frankly it is a sign of honesty and sincerity, and it shows the customer you really, really care about them and their business.

2. In the past few months I have also noticed that my dry cleaner will give me a date/time when my clothes will be ready. Lo and behold when I show up, they aren’t. I understand that you can miss a deadline but when you know you have missed a deadline, say something. they have my phone number and email. Make a call or send a text/email.

Lesson No. 2: Everyone will miss a deadline. Doing nothing, sweeping it under the rug and not communicating is a huge mistake and can only cost your business in the long run!

3. This next one was actually very funny or at least I thought it was funny. I lost one of my buttons on my shirt and asked my dry cleaner to sew it back on. They said, “No problem at all and it will be ready when the rest of your clothes are ready.”

A few weeks later I wore the shirt that the dry cleaner had fixed and noticed the button (on my sleeve) was actually a different color than the one next to it. My dress shirts have two buttons on the sleeve so it is very easy for me to notice. I looked at the bottom of my shirt where there is always extra buttons sewn in and lo and behold, all of the extra buttons are still there. Ok, I will admit I did chuckle a little bit.

Lesson No. 3: Pay attention to details. It is the smallest of details that can and will affect your business the most. Rest assured if you pay attention to details your enterprise has a much better chance to be successful.

Merrill Dubrow is president and CEO, M/A/R/C Research, located in Dallas, one of the top 25 market research companies in the U.S. Merrill is a sought after speaker and has been writing a blog for over six years. He can be reached at merrill.dubrow@marcresearch.com or at (972) 983-0416.

 

Published in Columnist

Google Pay Per Click advertising is a great tool for building brand awareness and generating leads online. It can be a bit of a complicated process for some, so it’s important to have a good foundation in the fundamentals of maximizing your PPC performance. 

There are four things you should be doing for your PPC to reach its full potential.

1.) Organize keywords to target niche prospect groups

The difference between an ignored ad and an effective ad is its relevance. An ad for jewelry gets ignored when in the search results of someone searching for remodeling services. The way you can make your ad the most relevant to prospects is by separating them according to the keywords they target and organizing them into groups.

The more thoroughly you organize your keywords, the more specificity you can use when creating your ad. That means your ads appear as if they are made specifically for the prospect, because they are.

Organizing your keywords does two things for your PPC:

1.) It makes your ads more relevant to prospects.

2.) It increases your click-through rate.

These are the exact factors that also give you a high quality score for your ads. A high quality score gets you better ad locations on websites and better ranking for search ads. It also gives you a lower cost per click for your ads. Google is rating your ad on how helpful it is to your prospect, based on its relevance and click-through rate.

2.) Create consistency throughout your PPC process

The PPC process is three steps: 1) Grab prospects’ attention with a relevant ad. 2) Direct them to a landing page that elaborates on what the ad offers. 3) Present a special offer as an incentive for prospects to fill out a contact form.

From your ad to your offer, your PPC marketing message and design should feel continuous and cohesive. It shouldn’t feel like three steps. If your landing page looks different than the image ad that attracted the prospect, the user will experience a disconnect.

You should simply build upon each step to build trust throughout the process, ultimately leading to the prospect filling out your contact form. That’s how you turn them into a lead for you to follow up with using your ongoing marketing methods.

3.) Optimize ads for phone responses

For most businesses, phone responses are a more valuable lead than the kind you get from contact forms, so it’s a great idea to optimize your ads to generate these calls. There are two ways to do this:

1) Make sure your number is displayed in all images and text ads.

2) Adjust your display times to only show ads when you’re in the office. This gives you the opportunity to get those calls and make the most of them when you’re open for business. Your phone responses don’t cost you anything. You only pay for clicks.

4.) Use ad extensions

PPC ads have a small character limit, but luckily Google offers Ad Extensions. These give you the ability to present important marketing information without adding to your character limit.

Six extensions they offer:

1.) Location Extension: Helps prospects find your office.

2.) Product Extension: Shows pictures and prices of your products.

3.) SiteLink Extension: Presents multiple pages from your website simultaneously.

4.) Phone Number Extension: Adds a click-to-call number beneath your ad.

5.) Social Media Extension: Shows how many +1s your Google Plus page has.

6.) Seller Rating Extension: Shows the rating your customers have given your company. Google only shows it if it’s four or fivestars.

Make sure you are taking advantage of every opportunity to improve your PPC efficacy. You’ll see the difference in your sales numbers.

Get Pay-Per-Click targeting options that get you more quality leads by going to www.postcardmania.com/google-adwords-targeting-options

Published in Columnist

Every year, your company conference creeps up. So, who’s going to plan it? Who needs to go? What does the agenda look like, and what is it we want people to take away from the experience? Set the stage from the beginning with a cross-functional planning committee, determine the key members of your team who need to attend and ensure at the end they have key takeaways.

Planning a meeting is no small task, especially when it involves hundreds, potentially thousands, of people. While meeting planning often is the job function of one person, a cross-functional planning team can have positive effects.

First, it ensures all your departments are represented and that the topics from each discipline will be discussed. Second, it brings perspectives from different people, and with that, new ideas. It also allows employees to get involved and develop new skills they may otherwise not have been exposed to.

Conferences can get expensive, and when you add in the fact that they are often in different states and last for several days, a company has to be strategic about who can attend. It’s important your senior leadership team attends, as those leaders will likely be the ones presenting the strategy and reporting on the team’s accomplishments.

While not all associates need to attend, be sure to include those who lead teams, those who interact with vendors and those who have a purpose for being there. For employees who don’t attend year after year, it could be a nice surprise to invite one or two a year that don’t typically make the list.

Vendors are vital to a company’s success, whether they are partners of record or help on a project basis. It’s important they are invited, have a seat at the table, and hear the same messages your team does, because they are an extension of your team.

So now you’re at the conference and your team is attending the general sessions. They go to the break-outs. They listen to a guest speaker. They visit the vendor fair. Conferences are so much more than just following the agenda. I challenge you and your teams at the next conference to do the following:

Make a friend — There are always people you don’t know at conferences; many people attend just to network. Take the time to meet new people and get to know what they do and how they contribute to your company’s success. Keep in touch with the people you meet.

Develop existing relationships — If you have acquaintances at conferences, think about how you can take your business relationship with them to the next level, whether it’s learning something new about them or their business.

Learn something new — Lots of new information and ideas are shared at conferences. Attend with an open mind and be ready to learn. Take two or three new learnings and put together an action plan around them.

Recognize accomplishments — Conferences are a great opportunity to publicly recognize both employees and vendors who contributed to your company’s success.

In addition to celebrating accomplishments, it’s a good time to inspire attendees about the future. Conference themes that are reflective of the company’s long-term objectives will help ensure associates and vendors at all levels leave with a common understanding of the company’s strategies and what it is counting on them to accomplish.

Paul Damico is president of Atlanta based Moe’s Southwest Grill, a fast-casual restaurant franchise with over 490 locations nationwide. Paul has been a leader in the foodservice industry for more than 20 years with companies such as SSP America, FoodBrand, LLC; and Host Marriott. He can be reached at pdamico@moes.com. 

Published in Columnist

Consumers expect two-way communication with brands that is timely, relevant, human and most importantly, accurate.

Companies and brands that have embraced this reality are in a much better position to engage customers, build relationships with these customers and create advocacy. Those with phobias about technology and customer engagement will find growth and creating customer loyalty increasingly difficult.

Shift from one expert to many. One industry that is highly affected by the growth of this trend is health care. For health care systems, doctors have traditionally been the experts and patients took direction solely from their family physician.

That no longer happens in many cases as consumers seek information from search engines, websites and health care ratings organizations that are all perceived as “experts.” And in light of health care reform, the amount of misinformation that is accessible and shared is enormous.

These information shifts, however, are not exclusive to the health care industry. We have seen this in virtually every industry we represent, from automotive to health care to home and building products. The categories and industries may be different, but the shift in consumer behavior as a direct result of digital technology is similar.

Brands no longer have complete control of their message, and the best thing to do is take advantage of that by embracing digital influencers and developing strategies that leverage influencers rather than trying to ignore their presence.

Brand advocates. Every brand has the power to create advocacy. This is what leads to the influence-the-influencer approach to marketing. By embracing technology, brands can engage consumers to the following:

 

 

  • Gain additional perspective on your brand, products and services. Give them online venues to write about positive experiences.

 

 

  • Acknowledge their feedback through Facebook posts, forums, comments and tweets. Answer their questions, address their concerns and correct any information that is incorrect. Take them offline so you do not offend them or create a negative perception for you.

 

 

  • Delight and enlighten them: Content is king. Photos, videos, infographics … any way you can engage your audience, do it! Create content that is relevant, timely and focused on what consumers want and need. Optimize content for search engines. Create blogs with relevant and fresh content. Drive consumers to your website and ensure proper analytics are set up so that you can track their behavior.

 

 

  • Lastly, track and measure! Determine what your goals are and what your key performance indicators will be prior to any endeavor.

 

 

Relationship building. To be authentic, brands must focus on helping consumers and not selling them. Brands do this by ensuring messaging is targeted and relevant at every touchpoint in the customer’s journey.

Advocacy building. The best way to build authentic advocacy with consumers is to understand their concerns and mindset. This can be accomplished by incorporating a digital listening and responding strategy that includes a specific and timely process for consumer support, to acknowledge their feedback through social media and other means. The goal is to create mutually beneficial relationships with consumers.

Future Team. A team of this type helps keep us ahead of cultural shifts. Their insights help us create and implement metrics to support a brand through all touchpoints and help offset competing brands’ efforts. You should do this too.

Embrace digital technology now to capitalize on this important way your target consumes information.

Maggie Harris is vice president of account services at Hitchcock Fleming & Associates (hfa). Reach her at www.teamhfa.com.

Published in Columnist
Sunday, 30 June 2013 20:00

Generational management

In any business, a group of employees can consist of a diverse group of people. Differences in race, creed, color, sex, national origin and religion can bring a melting pot of perspectives and talent to the daily pursuit of your company’s mission. Proper management of these generations and a greater focus on the differences among them can enrich your business and ultimately your bottom line.

Building a diverse workforce has been a mantra in business for quite some time and as we become more effective at building that diversity, differences in each generation’s approach will begin to surface. Management and leaders of businesses must begin to recognize that their personal approach and desire may not deliver the same desired results in the future.

Leaders need to understand the personal needs and motivators of individuals within their organization. Individual and generational views of health care, vacation, promotions, bonuses, retirement, loyalty, authority, work hours, work approach, communication, work-life balance, etc. are quite different based on personal needs and expectations. Having polices aiming for one-size fits all will simply not work.

Here are a few characteristics of each generation that could dramatically impact how work gets done in your business:

Baby Boomers

This generation is accustomed to personal interaction. They enjoy teams and a take a collegial approach to most challenges. They tend to be workaholics and are willing to work during time typically reserved for home and family. They’re interested in being rewarded for that dedication whether it comes in a bigger bonus or further advancement.

Alternative appreciation such as more time off or vacation usually does not do the trick. This is a group that receives much satisfaction from work. This group relies on its healthcare and is looking forward to retirement.

Generation Xers

This generation is much more independent. However, they have disdain for rigid work hours and authority in general. They lack trust in institutions and corporations in general, which fits with their independent nature.

They are extremely savvy with computers and technology. The group is adaptive to change and will accept a number of job moves in their lifetimes. They work to live, not the other way around.

Generation Y / Millennials

This generation is likened to next level Gen Xers, meaning they take all the same characteristics further on the trend line. They question authority more and they challenge the status quo. Typically, they expect instant responses and are in touch almost real time with the world around them. They are multi-taskers and leave Gen X slightly behind with their knowledge of technology and the growing world of social media.

Telecommuting would be a fine option for them. They’re also very interested in quality of life and are interested in a good ratio of work/life balance. They are open-minded to differences and expect diversity.

Now that we know a little more about the differences inside the generations represented in the workplace, we can make good decisions accordingly. This knowledge is powerful when dealing with important tasks such as hiring and recruiting and how that may relate to the relocation of a key player inside your organization.

It can help you schedule meetings around preferences on work hours and access to information, and it can be worth its weight in gold relative to the retention of key team members and how you structure your compensation and benefits system for maximum impact.

Embracing the differences in your workforce relative to their generation may provide you with important information in order to make the correct choice on key decision points. Chances are that discussion with your team of HR practitioners and a little research in the areas we covered is all you need to make the most of your team.

 

Tony Arnold is founder and principal of Upfront Management, a St. Louis-based management and executive consulting firm. He can be reached at (314) 825-9525 or tony@upfrontmgmt.com

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