Training Tomorrow’s Leaders: The Next Generation of Workplace Thinking

As the Boomer generation ages, increasing numbers of senior executives are moving toward retirement. Consequently, organizations must have strategies in place to find, hire, train and retain the next generation of thought-leaders---those with the talent and vision to take things to the next level. That’s a formidable challenge considering that the next generation---Gen Y / Millenials---has very different philosophies about life, work and what they want from their careers than the current generation looking to hand them the keys. Here’s a look at some of the next generation issues existing leaders will need to address to make sure their companies remain in competent hands.

A new definition of “work”

To the current generation, work has been viewed as a destination---a place you “go to” for a set amount of time. But for the members of Gen Y, work is more about doing something that is meaningful and is not limited by four walls and a clock. Gen Ys cut their teeth on technology and, unlike the generations before them, they rely heavily on technology and will expect to be able to use it to perform their jobs. In fact, they’ll probably want to bring their own devices. Management that is not up-to-date with technology will need to get on board with it to accommodate the next generation.

The flexibility factor

While older generations have been content with the traditional, structured, nine-to-five Monday through Friday scenario, the next generation is looking for a more flexible work schedule. In fact, many are willing to trade higher pay for fewer hours, in pursuit of a better work/life balance. Organizations attempting to attract and recruit next generation employees will need to offer some degree of workplace flexibility, including an option to work from home, to accommodate a workforce that is quite comfortable collaborating in a virtual environment.

Recruitment and retention challenges

The next generation is a high-priority target for recruiters, especially in light of their formidable tech skills. Therefore, organizations need to gear up, as increased demand will make recruiting top talent very competitive. Companies such as Google, have implemented some very aggressive recruiting strategies, offering promising candidates lucrative positions---even pay raises---before they ever set foot on the Google campus to ward off poaching. To maintain a strong recruiting presence, companies will have to offer stronger incentives that will resonate with this next generation of candidates. Retention of Gen Y will also be a challenge, as this group likes to stay on the move. Statistics show that, on average, next generation employees tend to stay with the same company about two years before moving on. It’s critical that organizations understand the career goals of the next generation, and then make every attempt to help them achieve those goals---without their having to look elsewhere.

The mixed generational challenge

As next generation workers come into the workplace with their new skills, values and expectations, they will be mixing with those who have been in their careers for several years and may be somewhat averse to change. This can present a real problem for current generation leaders, as they attempt to find and manage the middle ground between how things used to be and how things need to evolve going forward. Strong mentoring, allowing older thought-leaders to pass on critical knowledge to a new generation of thinkers, while at the same time gaining fresh new insights and ideas from them, will be essential for companies to survive and thrive well into the future.

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