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My previous blog post discussed the inherent differences in out multi-generational workforces. Following on from that, here are some practical suggestions to assist people managers to manage the expectations of everyone in the team.

1.  People all of all generations want to be respected.  

Everyone has different strengths to bring to the table, whether it’s years of real-world experience and accumulated corporate knowledge, a fresh young mind and novel approach to problem-solving or an amazing proficiency with the next big thing in social media.  

Promote a culture of active listening and discourage employees from generation-bashing eg: ‘I see Dad’s Army are manning the security desk again this morning!’ or ‘Have you seen the new intern in the accounts department? A flock of seagulls could be nesting in those dreadlocks!’

2. Be clear about expectations and career advancement opportunities within your organisation right from the start. 

Realistic information at recruitment fairs and job interviews, as well as ‘onboarding’ and induction programs can help to manage the high expectations of young people when they join the workforce. Remember they are often highly qualified and recognise that there can be blockages at the top as older generations remain in the workforce and this tension may need to be managed. The fact that globally this generation is highly qualified and it is a very competitive recruitment market means that young people need to distinguish themselves in the job market through experience. Exposing them to different experiences or projects (not necessarily promotion) can be a way to manage everyone’s expectations in the workplace.

3.  Emphasise shared goals but be flexible about the best way to reach them.  

Nobody likes being micro-managed and different generations may approach their work in a variety of ways. Gen Y are often exceptional multi-taskers, Gen X may prefer to work autonomously and some Boomers may be more comfortable working collaboratively. However, there are many roads to a shared destination. Be flexible. Encourage staff to communicate openly and to celebrate their creativity and diversity.

4.  Encourage inter-generational mentoring

Not everyone will feel at ease sitting in a classroom (particularly a computer training room) but everybody likes to learn new skills and feel valued by their employer. Consider offering a ‘skills exchange’ program where, for example, Boomers pair up with Gen Y to swap advice about leadership skills for help using new technologies.

5.  Leaders need to be authentic, trustworthy and motivating.  

Different generations may have different expectations about leadership but everyone wants to be able to trust and respect the ‘commander-in- chief’. The best leaders have a broad range of leadership styles and have the capacity to adapt to changing circumstances and different audiences.

6.  Encourage a healthy work-life balance for all age groups.

To retain valuable staff of all age groups for longer, ask people what they need in terms of a reasonable balance and as long as it doesn’t interfere with organisational goals or performance, try to accommodate it wherever possible.

7.  Change is hard on everyone.  

There is a widespread perception that older people are more resistant to change and that young people embrace it. However, research shows that the acceptance or rejection of change has far more to do with the perceived costs and benefits of that change than the age demographics of employees.

8.  Give constructive feedback and encourage life-long learning. 

Everybody likes to know how well they’re performing and feel that they have the skills to do their job well.  Research conducted by the Hay Group found that all generations cited ‘exciting and challenging work’ as the main reason for staying with their current employer. Give staff opportunities to keep growing and developing their skill sets and knowledge base, whatever their age.

9.  All generations have similar core values but they may express them differently.  

While people of different age groups may at times seem worlds apart in terms of interests and capabilities, when it comes to what really matters most, all generations put family at the top of their list. Other top values shared across the generational divide include: achievement, competence, happiness integrity, love, self-respect, responsibility and wisdom.

10.  Loyalty is about the context, not the age of your employees.  

There has been a lot written in recent times about younger generations being less loyal employees than older ones. However, research has found that number of hours worked by employees related more to the level of seniority within an organisation rather than age demographics, ie the greater the level of responsibility, the more hours worked.

If you would like to know more about human resource management, conflict resolution or leadership training opportunities for your organisation, please contact us.

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Generational diversity in the workforce is nothing new, but as people are living longer and retiring later, it is becoming more common to see four, or in some cases, even five different generations working side by side in organisations.   

It is not uncommon to see the workforce in both government and the private sector reflecting a growing number of 65+ year olds due to changes in accessing of entitlements and ensuring sufficient funds to support them for retirement into their 80s and beyond!

This is a very different work environment to even 10 years ago for many organisations.

This workplace reality can create many people management challenges as different generations can reflect different perspectives on communication styles, work/life balance, organisational change, implementation of technology, leadership style, expectations of employers and paths for career progression for example. 

Although stereotyping is always a risk, there is some value on reflecting on the different generational experiences and how that can impact on the workplace environment.

So how are the different generations characterised?

  • Traditionalists, also known as the Silent Generation (born between 1928 and 1945).     

Although only comprising around two per cent of the current workforce, many working Traditionalists now hold very senior and powerful positions, eg members on Boards of Directors.

  • Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964),

Accounting for about 29 per cent of the workforce, the 2008 Global Financial Crisis (GFC) hit the superannuation funds of this group hard. Many have delayed their retirement plans and are still working full-time, much to their disappointment and simultaneous annoyance of some of the younger generations coming through! Changes to superannuation access rules have hit this group the hardest with the least amount of time to recover from the changes.

  • Gen X, also known as the MTV generation (born between 1965 and 1979)

This group makes up about 34 per cent of today’s workforce. Many are now at the midpoint in their careers and hold strong positions in key leadership roles.

  • Generation Y, also known as Millennials (born between 1980 and 1994)

Comprising of about 34 per cent of the workforce and this group are now in the early stages of their careers. Often described as the most highly qualified generation (and of course as a result lumbered with large HECS debts they are keen to pay off!)

  • Generation Z, also known as iGens or Post-Millenials (born between 1995 and 2009).

Often confused with Millenials, the oldest of this group are now just beginning to enter the labour market and currently make up less than one per cent of the workforce. Their experience of being born into a world of fast paced technology reflecting constant and rapid change has manifested itself particularly in different expectations to other generations around how we communicate and feedback in the workplace, in what format and how often.

Just as in any diverse mix, the potential for conflicts are clear.

Stereotypes abound about each of these groups, eg that Traditionalists favour a ‘command and control’ management style and resist change, Boomers are condescending workaholics, Gen X are cynical and disrespectful of authority, Gen Y are tech-savvy narcissists who need constant attention and Gen Z are risk-adverse, untrusting Snapchatters with an attention span of eight seconds!

It’s not always easy to separate the myths from the reality and I want to focus on the areas that unite, rather than divide, people.

Jennifer Deal, a leading research scientist with the US Center for Creative Leadership, argues that intergenerational conflict has more to do with miscommunication and misunderstandings than anything else. Her findings, outlined in the book, Retiring the Generation Gap: How Employees Young & Old Can Find Common Ground (2007) are based on seven years of research with more than
3,000 corporate leaders.  

According to Deal, while it is natural that people of different ages will see the world in different ways, the so-called generation gaps are more commonly “fuelled by common insecurities and the desire for clout”.

Tolbize (2008), similarly found that “Generational conflict is more likely to arise from errors of attribution and perception, than from valid differences.”

So how do you manage the age mix and promote intergenerational cohesion in your workplace? 

My next blog provides some helpful strategies, but if you would like to discuss the needs of your organisation, please get in touch.


  • Deal, J, (2007) Retiring the Generation Gap: How Employees Young & Old Can Find Common Ground, Jossey Bass, San Fransisco
  • <http://www.amanet.org/training/articles/The-Myth-of-Generational-Differences-in-the-Workplace.aspx> viewed 26 March 2016
  • <https://www.haygroup.com/downloads/de/haygroup_thought_paper_multigen%20workforce.pdf> viewed 26 March 2016
  • <http://growingleaders.com/blog/generation-z-differs-generation-y/> viewed 26 March 2016
  • <http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/05/11/millennials-surpass-gen-xers-as-the-largest-generation-in-u-s-labor-force/> viewed 27 March 2016
  • Tolbize, Anick, 2008 ‘Generational differences in the workplace’, <http://rtc.umn.edu/docs/2_18_Gen_diff_workplace.pdf> viewed 28 March 2016
  • <http://www.tomorrowtodayglobal.com/2007/07/25/retiring-the-generation-gap-how-employees-young-old-can-find-common-ground-by-jennifer-deal/> viewed 28 March 2016
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In Part 1 of my article on workforce planning, I discussed the importance of clearly identifying where your organisation is heading and what internal and external drivers are shaping your business direction.

In Part 2, I’d like to give you some tips for getting the balance of skills and experience right in your organisation. 

Once you have determined the optimum organisational structure and identified the skill sets you require for the future, focus on these two key questions:

  • What strategies are available to you to ensure your staffing mix meets your organisation’s requirements? 
  • How can you ensure you have the right capacity in terms of staff numbers, structure and skill set?

If it helps, take a snapshot of where you are currently. A comprehensive audit is often the best way to establish a baseline. However, I understand this can be time-consuming. If you work for a large organisation or government agency, explore the option that others in the organisation may be collection people management data as part of other reporting requirements to assist you.

Information that can be used to objectively review the current position of your organisation includes:

  • Staff demographics and staff turnover trends
  • Current roles, grades or classifications in the organisation
  • Staff numbers and employment mode (eg. full time, part time)
  • Employment status (eg. permanent, casual, contract)
  • Short term or temporary staff
  • Qualifications held
  • Skills and competencies currently held
  • Number of employees in training positions
  • Locations of staff
  • Salary rates and HR budget figures
  • Awards and agreements.

Analysing this information will help you identify those areas which need attention and action.

Once you have this data at your fingertips, consider some of the HR options available to align your staffing mix with your overall business goals.

HR options will typically include one or more of the following:

  • Development or improvement of retention strategies
  • Training and education
  • Restructuring
  • Succession planning
  • Targeted recruitment
  • Redeployment
  • Redundancy program
  • Retrenchment program.

Finally, it’s always important to review how effective the HR strategies you have used in the past have been in facilitating your overall business objectives. Monitoring, evaluating, and if necessary, modifying these strategies regularly will ensure you have a flexible, living plan and that you are using all the resources available to you to meet your organisation’s needs and goals.

If you would like to know more about human resource planning for your organisation, please contact us.

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The New Year is always a good time for organisations to plan, develop plans and develop practical strategies to achieve personal and organisational goals.  

Your HR plans should be linked to the broader strategic plan of the organisation and the business plans and the short, medium and long-term goals outlined.

HR Planning involves the key questions:

  • What are the skills and capabilities I need to support and lead the organisation in the short, medium and long term future?
  • What is the organisational structure that we need to meet our business goals in the short, medium and long term future?

Getting the right people into the right positions at the right time is far easier said than done!  

The best people managers understand this and know it doesn’t happen by accident. It is a deliberate strategy and requires careful thought and consideration.

Increasing competition among companies to recruit and retain the best ‘talent’, rapid technological growth (often outpacing the skill sets and training of existing workers), reduced operating budgets and constant pressures to increase efficiency are all factors that need to be addressed.

Additionally, Australia’s ageing population, and retiring baby boomers in particular, are depleting many organisations of some of their most experienced and knowledgeable employees, often before succession plans (if they are in place at all) are ripe for fruition.

Workforce planning represents a major challenge for HR so I have decided to devote my next two blogs to workforce planning.

In this article (Part 1), I’d like to outline some helpful points to consider when planning your HR requirements and in the next one (Part 2), I’ll discuss some strategies you can use to create the right staffing mix for your organisation.

I hope these suggestions will help you to respond more confidently to changes in your workplace operating environment throughout the year and stay on track to meet and exceed!  your professional goals for 2016.

Where are you headed?

Usually, the most constructive place to start is by conducting an ‘environmental scan’.

To do this, consider the following questions:

  • What external factors are occurring in your industry or sector that could potentially impact on your organisation and therefore your team? (eg new or emerging competitors entering the market, technological changes, economic growth/downturn, the age profile of your workforce, potential legislative changes that may impact on your business)
  • Where can you readily source the most credible data on industry or sector trends to make informed decisions about the staffing mix you need?
  • Are there any current legislative or political issues that may be relevant? (eg expected changes to funding models, training requirements for staff, new taxes likely to come into effect in 2016)
  • Do you need to adapt the types of services and products you provide to meet the changing needs of your customer base?
  • Are you intending to expand, reduce and/or restructure your workforce?
  • What organisational structure would work best?
  • What are the key skills your organisation needs? (including technical, operational management and people management skills)
  • Do you have enough people with those skills? What are the time frames to acquire those skills?
  • Can you grow those skills internally (ie through staff development, succession planning) or do you need to recruit them in? What are the timeframes involved?
  • What internal information do you need to source? ( eg demographics, retirements, predicted staff turnover, succession plans, planned absences, staff surveys)

Taking some time to consider your external and internal environments and taking stock of your internal resources will help you to embrace 2016 with the calm self-confidence of an experienced driver, well- prepared for all conditions and ready to enjoy the journey.

If you would like to know more about human resource planning for your organisation, please contact us.

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Moving into new or expanded leadership roles can be both exciting and daunting. Many frontline or first time leaders often have strong technical or operational skills but, as any leader will tell you, it is the people management skills involved in successfully leading teams that are often described as the most critical!

For those experienced leaders, adapting and growing your leadership skills as your responsibilities or the size of your team expands can also challenge our confidence. The weight of expectation can be overwhelming so it becomes important to make the best possible start on the new leadership journey.

Here are some strategies to help you make the best possible start to fulfilling your leadership role.

1. Do your homework on the business unit as much as possible. Understand their role,  previous performance successes and disappointments, any external challenges they have faced recently or changes that may be imminent.

2.   Confirm the scope of your responsibilities, available resources, levels of decision making authority and ways in which your performance will be measured.  

3.   Spend some time on determining how your role and your team can add the best value to the organisation. Start to build your strategic thinking capability. Reflect on what the functions are of the team. Are there opportunities to improve the contribution to the organisation in the way the team delivers their services?

4.   Develop and confirm your ‘must do’ priorities for your first 3,6,9,12 months. This planning includes the preparation of your ‘100 day plan’ usually at the commencement of a new position which assists you to focus your energies and avoid becoming overwhelmed. Once developed the plan should be discussed with your senior managers and also your teams so that the focus of your efforts is clear and expectations can be clarified.

5.   Clearly communicate your vision or plan to the team. Where do we want to be in 12 months? What do we want to have achieved? What are our goals? How will we get there? How will we measure our performance?

6.   Discuss and confirm the communication methods that will work most effectively for your teams, senior managers and peers.  

7.   Define the culture you believe is necessary for the team. What behaviours are appropriate? What positive behaviours and attitudes need to be fostered? Once these have been defined you can communicate those expectations clearly to the team. What key organisational documents will support you in driving positive cultures?

8.   Make a concerted effort to personally connect with your team and one to one partnerships.

9.   Make a conscious and determined effort to make positive impressions at every opportunity in your new role. Convey your leadership through your communication and your actions by delivering on expectations with conviction and enthusiasm.

10. Invest in your network. Create a deliberate strategy to invest in building strong internal and external stakeholder partnerships. 

11. Manage the change process. Where you have a number of change projects identified, reflect on the priority, the expected outcome, the current engagement level of the team and implement the change program accordingly. It will be counterproductive to tackle too many fires at once. Focus on small wins initially to build your confidence and the confidence of those around you.

12. Deliver.  Deliver.  Deliver. New managers must deliver successful outcomes within reasonable time frames. Identify the priorities and focus your efforts on ensuring that projects of tasks are completed to a high standard. Resist the temptation to take on too many things at once for exactly this purpose. It will undermine your efforts to complete and this will affect your confidence.

For more information on options to develop confident and competent leaders in your  organisation, please contact us.

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