Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds
Issue link: http://diversitywoman.epubxp.com/i/662902
38 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N S u m m e r 2 0 1 6 d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m THEGENERATIONGAME last summer, CEO Michael Kempner met with Emily Graham, the frm's group vice president of corporate communications. "He wanted to fgure out how to channel the energy of Millen- nial employees and heighten engagement," says Graham. "He said, 'How do we make their voices heard? Go out there and tell me what you come up with.'" From that efort arose Verge, a council of repre- sentatives of younger employees who brainstorm fresh solutions. Graham's team asked senior leadership to send the names of their superstars. "Tey sent us the names of 20 people—from London, Los Ange- les, Dallas, New York," Graham says. Verge tackles everything from work-life balance, to improve- ments in the ofce environment, to cross-team collaboration. Tey helped launch a program, for example, that allows New York and San Francisco employees to swap ofce locations for the summer. Although Verge was primarily created to engage Millennials, Graham—a Millennial herself—says the group is hardly insu- lar. "We don't want Millennials to be over here and other gen- erations over here," she says. "We're anticlique. We want to cre- ate collaboration. Verge is helping to put front and center some of the [problems] that can crumble a business, and there are benefts to having so many walks of life and insights. We want to be sharper, smarter. And if you're not bringing the diferent generations together, you're not doing your best work." Graham brims with infectious optimism, while also acknowl- edging the challenges. "I'm a Millennial who manages other Mil- lennials, but my coworkers and colleagues are senior leadership," she says. "So people come through my door who have a Millen- nial issue. Tis is my reality. Tere's a perception that Millenni- als are entitled, annoying, fll-in-the-blank—any stereotype you can think of. And Millennials might think of their managers as stifing, controlling, fll-in-the-blank. You need to get people to speak one another's language. How do we communicate about the elephants in the room so we can be more col- laborative?" To help employees understand one another, MWWPR is planning an orientation series on managing Millennials—as well as one on being managed by Millennials. "I'm a Millennial, and there are boomers on my team," Graham says. "Tey're my parents' age. So how do you main- tain respect but keep things happening?" Tat's becoming a common scenario. "Multi- Generational Leadership," a study conducted by Beyond, Te Career Network, surveyed 5,771 respondents and found that 83 percent of employees have seen Millennials managing Gen Xers and baby boomers in their ofce. But 45 percent of baby boomers and Gen Xers surveyed feel that Millennials' lack of managerial experience could adversely impact a company's culture. At the same time, over one-third of Millen- nials say that it's difcult to manage older workers. Orientation training programs like those at MWWPR can help build intergenerational trust and teamwork. Ongoing mentorship and coaching can also sharpen Millen- nial leadership skills, yet only 47 percent of survey respondents said they work for a company that has a formal mentorship pro- gram to support their leadership development. Meanwhile, team-building exercises can build trust between workers. As Miligram says, "My team has engaged in everything from brainteaser activities to of-site boot camps, where [em- ployees] escape their comfort zones and view colleagues' abili- ties through a fresh, new lens." Bottom line: Organizations that help older and younger workers connect will reap benefts. "Te cool thing about gen- erational diversity is that it's the most inclusive topic under the diversity umbrella," says Givings Bailey. "Everyone can see him- or herself within this, so people really engage—and it's also a lot of fun." DW Kimberly Olson is Diversity Woman's managing editor. CULTURE SHIFT By 2020, Millennials will make up half of the work- force. Younger workers are a diverse bunch, but they tend to have some common beliefs and attitudes that are bound to shape workplace policy and culture. Money isn't everything. A 2011 study of 4,300 college graduates under age 31 by PwC found that Millennials' top workplace value is work-life balance. Upon joining the workforce, 28 percent said that work-life balance at their company was worse than they expected. The pleasure is in the journey. Older generations gener- ally decided on a career in their 20s. Millennials were encouraged to explore their passions, and they take about seven years longer than previous generations to settle into a choice, so their focus is usually on the next year to two. Diversity matters. Millennials are the most diverse generation yet, and they want to work at companies with strong diversity policies. At the moment, many are not impressed. Over half of respondents to the PwC study said that while companies talk about di- versity, they don't feel that opportunities are equal for all in the workplace. Men and women should share the career spotlight. Millennial men are more comfortable working for a female boss, for example. And a 2014 Mayfower survey found that 72 percent of Mil- lennials would support a move for a wife's job, compared to 59 percent of boomers and just 37 percent of preboomers.