Facing a career decision? Puzzled by a co-worker’s point of view? Struggling with a specific workplace dilemma? Looking for ways to improving engagement, collaboration, or innovation within your organization? Wanting to learn more about something I said in one of my books?
I’ll do my best to offer some suggestions, if you “Ask Tammy.”
Q&A: Traits and Characteristics of Leaders Across the Different Generations
I am in the process of completing my MA, Leadership and I am doing a 10 - 12 page lit review on the traits and characteristics of leaders across the different generations. Beyond that I am not sure the best way to focus the reseach paper. I see that you have done a lot of work in this area so I wanted to ask you ‘how would you narrow this down’? Would you focus on style in relation to industry or would you focus on style more in more general terms?
I’d suggest starting with style, or what I like to think of as the “lens” through which each generation sees the workplace. I write a lot about the lens of each generation; I think you’ll find it easy to obtain that background. I’ll also provide a list of key characteristics, below. (Note that these are U.S. characteristics; I also write about the generations in other countries, but I’m assuming you’re looking at the U.S.)
Joiners—eager to “join the world” and get a piece of the pie
Loyal to institutions
Accepting of hierarchy and rules
Accustomed to using money as a metric of success
See life as a game of Musical Chairs—a zero sum world
Mistrustful of institutions
Confident, upbeat and determined
Tolerant and spiritual
Then I’d suggest looking for articles that describe the leadership practices of various individuals of different ages and see what parallels you can observe. I wouldn’t limit myself to business applications, since many Gen Y’s may be leaders in non-profit or other environments outside corporations.
I hope that helps! Good luck with your work. I’d love to have a copy of your paper when you are through, if you’re open to sharing it.
All the best,
Filed under: Comparisons Among the Generations | Published: 03/20/12
Q&A: Are Gen Xers Good Leaders for the Y Generation
What do you think the relationship would look like when a Y works for an X? Will X’ers be good leaders for the Y generation?
I’ve found a wide range of relationships between members of Gen X and Y. In some cases, the X’ers are invigorated by the Y’s and enjoy the new ideas and “push” they bring to the workplace.
However, in many cases, I’ve found that X’ers are annoyed by Y’s. It’s important to remember that X’ers entered the workplace at a time when few people were worrying about how to keep them happy. X’ers slipped into whatever slots were available, given the large number of Boomers who had preceded them, and have had to work hard to advance. Many feel that the priority companies have placed on attracting and retaining Y’s is a bit unfair, since there was little of that thinking when they were newcomers. Many also find the Y’s unrealistic in their desires to advance, and secretly worry that the Y’s will advance right past them.
My hope is that a better understanding of why people approach work they way they do will help reduce any irritation, and allow the generations to work together more effectively. X’ers and Y’s have the potential to make a great team—for example, they both use social media and are committed to integrating it into their business activities.
I’d love to hear more about your thoughts and observations.
Filed under: Comparisons Among the Generations | Published: 03/07/12
Q&A: Stuck in Middle Management
I am 42 year old HR manager working for Telecom company in India. Last 3-4 years I am stuck in middle management level, and unable to reach top management. I went through 360 degree feedback of myself- my strengths are coming up with ideas and implementing them. I have won awards too. My weakness is lack of visibility, doing too much of back-end work. I tried to improve visibility by keeping CEO, CFOs informed about what I am doing, but when it comes to promotion, it always goes to older guys, because they “look” more mature.
Congratulations on the strengths you’ve demonstrated – and the fact that they have been recognized through a number of awards.
I suspect the issue you’re struggling with may have less to do with your physical appearance of youth, than with people’s perceptions of the strengths you have to offer. Ironically, often what makes you successful at one stage in your career is not what people are looking for in individuals who move to the next level. So, by communicating your successes more broadly, you may be reinforcing people’s perceptions that you are well-suited to your current role.
In general, we go through three types of responsibilities as we move up the hierarchy: from a focus on content – that is, on the nature of the work itself, to process – managing and coordinating various elements of a project, to context – creating environments in which others can succeed. If you are perceived as someone who is excellent in doing the work itself and/or in managing projects, you are setting yourself up for awards – and for remaining in the same role for many years. To move into top management, you need to impress people that you have the skills associated with context – that is, with helping others succeed. Talk about how you’re creating engagement within your team, how you’re mentoring others, ideas you have to make the overall workplace more productive, and so.
Best wishes for success!
Filed under: Career Strategies | Published: 02/29/12
Q&A: Translating the Need for Change to Baby Boomers
I am a management consultant to creative industries. I began this work after noticing how many Gen X designers were fleeing their industries; struggling in companies that don’t fit their work and management styles or allow them to grow professionally.
Your ‘Outdated Management Myths’ speak to many of the issues I have tried to communicate with managers in creative firms. While Gen Xers and Ys are excited about rethinking management, I’ve struggled with translating the need for change to Baby Boomers. I understand that change is difficult and risky, especially in the current economy. However, without a sense of urgency and action, I fear the significant loss of talent we may face.
Do you have any recommendations for encouraging Baby Boomers to reevaluate current management styles? How to get them interested and on board?
Ah, what an important question! And one that is of serious concern to me, as well. I, too, have found that it is very difficult to help Boomers understand that their view of the world (“our” view, I must say, since I am one) is not necessarily shared by everyone.
Here’s my best trick: I ask them if they have children. If the answer is “yes,” I’m well on my way. I then ask them if their own children would like [to work in this company], [to abide by this practice], etc. This stops many Boomers in their tracks. I’ve had many say, “well, no, my child wouldn’t like this . . . “, to which I say, “I suspect other parents’ children won’t, as well.”
In other words, bring it down to the personal level. I once asked a leadership team of a major corporation how many of them had recommended to their own children that they apply for a job at this company. Not one hand was raised. And, in many ways, my job was done at that point. They had the message: if this isn’t a company they would recommend to their own children, on what basis would they recommend it to other children?
Boomers still have that idealistic streak that they developed as teens—it’s been buried for 30+ years, but you can tap into it if you get them thinking about building a corporation that their children would love.
All the best,
Filed under: Boomers | Published: 01/11/12
Q&A: Trends and Issues in Operation Design
In the field of OD are there any emerging issues and, what trends do you foresee in the future of OD?
I think the biggest issue facing OD is the challenge of helping organizations transform to take advantage of the capabilities offered by new social media technology. Here’s my perspective:
New technologies are making their way into the workplace, offering significant improvements in generating, capturing, and sharing knowledge, finding helpful colleagues and information, tapping into new sources of innovation and expertise, and harnessing the “wisdom of crowds.” Over time, these collaborative technologies will change the way work is done and the way organizations function. They will shift the way we interact with people on our teams, find external expertise when it’s needed, and share ideas and observations more broadly.
We are on the brink of an important transformation. Today’s technologies enable a very different level of business performance. The frontier of human productive capacity is the power of extended collaboration – the ability to work together beyond the scope of small groups.
But realizing the benefits of these new capabilities is not as straightforward as installing a document-sharing or Facebook-like application inside your organization. People aren’t necessarily as motivated to share documents at work as they are to share baby photos in their personal lives. Identifying relevant business connections isn’t as clear cut as finding old high school friends. The range of activities that collaborative technologies can take on to enhance performance and drive increased productivity in the workplace is far broader than the activities most of us have explored during our personal use. Perhaps most importantly, many of our existing work practices actually hinder the successful use of extended collaboration.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Filed under: Innovation | Published: 12/06/11
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