How Ready is your Organisation for Gen Y?

How Ready is your Organisation for Gen Y?

By Dan Brieger

Gen Y, also known as Millenials, (born 1980 – 2000) are a huge part of the present workforce and are the next wave of senior leaders. Many have already assumed entry-level managerial roles and the most talented of these are advancing into bigger and more complex leadership positions. So, what are the key themes of this generation, and generally speaking how can you prepare your organisation to make best use of their talents?

The Characteristics of Gen Y

Gen Ys are characterised by having more liberal social and cultural attitudes and by being more civic and community oriented. Despite being hit hard by the 2008 financial crises they still have high expectations for advancement, salary and for a coaching relationship with their manager. Moving forwards organisations will need to adapt to accommodate and make the best use of Gen Y’s talents, for example, by providing more feedback, responsibility, and involvement in decision making at an earlier stage in people’s careers. Hackman and Oldham (1975) identified some key job characteristics that are essential to employee motivation. Research indicates these still matter to Gen Y, with a couple of additions:

  • Highly motivated by technology and like to stay connected
  • Value flexibility and seek variety
  • Want to feel a sense of identity and purpose
  • Value honesty, transparency and are ethically driven
  • Hold feedback and structured guidance in high regard

Is your Organisation Gen Y ready?

The role models here are Google, Virgin, Apple and Facebook – companies that excite this generation because of their brand, values, use of technology and the positive impact they have on society. Clearly not every organisation can be like this. However there are still some simple steps to making any organisation more attractive and rewarding to Gen Y.

How to Build a Gen Y Friendly Talent Strategy

There are some key considerations that will allow Gen Y to adapt to your workplace more quickly and propel themselves towards leadership positions. From our experience, there are six things organisations need to consider:

1. Emphasise feedback and development

Feedback is prized by Gen Y. This generation more than any other likes to know how they have performed and to be given this information quickly. Providing authentic, constructive and developmental feedback is therefore key to building motivation and engagement.

2. Pick up the pace

This is a generation that has been shaped by instant feedback, be it from the internet, X Factor or one form of social media or another. This means that the idea of annual appraisals is outdated, and simply too slow to be interesting. Recruitment processes also need to be exciting and to show an appreciation that candidates have a choice. Leave Gen Y candidates hanging at your peril.

3. Provide active career development

The popular mantra of employees needing to take responsibility for their own development is also under challenge. The Gen Y population expect to be served in exchange for their energies and loyalty. Whilst comfortable operating in less structured environments it is critical that individuals feel that their future is being considered. Line managers therefore need to be prepared to dedicate regular time to discussing this and Talent Review processes need to be felt rather than hidden away.

4. Invest in personal 121 development initiatives

Development is extremely important to Gen Y and a simple solution is for them to seek mentorship from Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964), with whom they actually share some characteristics. In fact studies indicate that Gen Y are more likely to look to Boomers for professional advice and guidance than Gen X (born 1964 – 1980). More often than not Gen Y are actually the children of Boomers and have been famously treasured and protected by their parents. This may explain why there are similarities that skip over Gen X.

Tom Banham, Head of Academy Talent Acquisition at Nestle UK & Ireland commented that “New Gen Y employees who enter our academy get a mentor to support them, usually a senior person in the organisation. However, now we’re going one step further and are trialling a dedicated manager who will provide support, be a coach, counsellor, whatever people need. Someone who is neutral and can be a confidante in situations when perhaps the senior people can’t be.”

5. Build flexibility into the work environment

Additionally, Boomers and Gen Y both share the value of ‘making a positive impact’ and value flexibility in their working arrangements, allowing them to have a better work-life balance. A recent study showed that 70% care about flexible working hours, whereas only 46% care about base salary. Developing a flexible reward strategy and implementing solid CSR initiatives are clearly things that will motivate Millenials and will make an organisation more attractive as an employer.

6. Communicate transparently and honestly

Finally, honesty and transparency form a large part of a Gen Y’s thought processes, as social media is able to expose the flaws and failings of corporations and their leaders. Talent acquisition and development programmes need to reflect this. Stephen Isherwood, Chief Executive at the AGR commented: “Gen Y respond well to openness, so organisations shouldn’t be afraid of honest conversations over non-traditional platforms.” So clarity in terms of roles, development plans, expectations and goals is critical to them – or they will hop on their smartphones and find out the truth.

In summary, the generation gap is an important discussion point at the moment and the progression of Gen Y into more senior leadership roles needs consideration. However, the challenges are not insurmountable to organisations that take a proactive approach to Talent Management. Initiatives, as above, executed in the right way can help retain and nurture key talent, and gain an edge in the re-emergence of the war for talent. In theory, Gen Y leaders should be well equipped to lead Gen Y employees. Time will tell.

If you would like more information on how to ensure your organisation is optimised to attract, develop and retain the best emerging Gen Y leaders then contact us on 0203 940 6446.


Signup to our Newsletter

By signing up to our newsletter, you are agreeing to receive monthly marketing emails containing thought leadership, event invitations and other industry insights. You can unsubscribe or change your preferences at any time. View our privacy policy for more information.

* indicates required





Setting NEDs up for Success

Setting NEDs up for Success

By Colin Mercer

As boards evolve to reflect the rapidly changing environments they operate within, the focus has shifted to appointing Non-Executives with specific functional skills, rather than those with relevant sector experience. The rationale here is understandable: in an increasingly challenging funding climate, organisations are keen to supplement their boards with value-adding functional expertise to help them move forward.

However, are these new skills-based board members always able to deliver the changes they have been brought in to facilitate? Before even reaching the appointment stage, there is often scepticism from candidates as to whether organisations which have traditionally been slow to change will actually appoint someone without sector knowledge. And even if they do, will they allow the new recruit to make a difference?

Follow-up conversations with recently appointed non-sector NEDs are often interesting and insightful. Whilst some settle in quickly and are able to add value from the outset, other roles do not meet candidate expectations. Where frustrations exist they are usually triggered by one primary factor – the recruit has not been allowed to utilise their skills and experience to help initiate change.

If you plan to recruit an NED, our experience suggests the following to be worthwhile considerations both pre and post-appointment:

  • Establish absolute clarity concerning the change you are seeking to engineer, and the role the board (and the new NED) will play in delivering it.
  • Explicit acknowledgement from the board that new recruits, especially those from outside the sector, are likely to do things differently. This is to be welcomed, as presumably it is the reason the organisation has gone outside the sector.
  • New people bring different strategic perspectives and new ways of working – feathers are often ruffled. Regular two-way feedback reviews are essential. These provide insight, guidance and reassurance to all parties.
  • What expertise does the board have in change management? There is a growing body of literature, lots of highly practical tips and techniques on transformation, that can easily be accessed on the internet. If you want a fuller discussion, speak to us at Wickland Westcott.
  • Courage, and the ability of the board to ‘hold their nerve’, will almost certainly be required. Anticipate this, prepare for it as a team, and think about how and what you will communicate during the more challenging periods in the change cycle.
  • New NED candidates (especially first-timers) can be so focussed on securing the role, that they join without fully understanding the organisation’s expectations. This is where a good search consultant earns his/her corn. Our role, in conjunction with the Chair, is to ensure that the candidate has considered every aspect of the opportunity, and is confident they can genuinely deliver what is required of them.
  • A thorough induction process is essential in order to help deliver the change agenda. The induction allows candidates to understand the organisation’s recent history, the current challenges, and the desired future direction.
  • Whilst the current emphasis is on skills-based appointments, it is essential not to lose sight of the cultural and values fit. This is crucial to ensure the new Non-Executive has the required impact and can appropriately influence stakeholders. Whilst organisations must change, board members (new and existing) cannot lose sight of the core organisational values. Jim Collins (Good to Great) articulates this dilemma well, stressing the need to both ‘stimulate progress’ and ‘preserve the core’.

Currently, there is a healthy candidate appetite to join the boards of public sector and not for profit organisations. The best candidates want to help deliver positive change, and in the current funding climate, it is crucial that their enthusiasm and skills are harnessed and effectively deployed. Preparing well, and following the above steps, maximise the likelihood of this happening.


Signup to our Newsletter

By signing up to our newsletter, you are agreeing to receive monthly marketing emails containing thought leadership, event invitations and other industry insights. You can unsubscribe or change your preferences at any time. View our privacy policy for more information.

* indicates required





CFO to CEO – What does Big Data tell us?

CFO to CEO – What does Big Data tell us?

By Darren Woods

Much has been written about the changing role of the CFO. Over the course of many assignments, and through daily dialogue with CFOs across all sectors, it is clear the job continues to evolve. The skills required to succeed today are wide ranging, and some incumbents feel they are catapulted into the role with little time to obtain the management and commercial skills needed. Certainly they can learn on the job, but obviously there are risks inherent in this approach.

The CFO role typically involves maintaining financial control, and protecting the integrity of the company, whilst ensuring that systems, procedures and personnel are aligned to the changing needs of the business and the environment it serves. Over recent years the key criteria for success as a CFO is the interplay between the CFO and CEO and the link into the Non Exec Board. This ability to come together to address the key issues on development strategy, investor relationships and stakeholder management has led to the assumption that the CFO is seen as the CEO designate. At Wickland Westcott (WW) we maintain a proprietary database detailing (anonymously) the background and competencies of all the Executives we engage with. This data suggests that, on average, the CFO’s strongest skills are usually in analysis and decision-making, and also commercial appreciation.

Do enough organisations take steps to help the CFO develop these skills, either upon appointment or ideally before-hand? Are there circumstances where the Executive him/herself is uncomfortable asking for training or coaching, as this can perhaps be seen as a reason to overlook them for future progression? In reality, how many Chairs or HR Directors can point to current, fquote1it-for-purpose development plans for their Senior Executives? The answers to these questions suggest that, in my experience, UK plc still tends to favour an ‘appoint and leave them to it’ model.

Turning to CEO succession, it appears that a finance grounding is the favoured CEO career-platform in the UK, with research suggesting approximately half of the FTSE 100 CEOs has such a background (Robert Half study, 2015). The biggest competency development areas for CFOs making this transition are likely to be in the areas of communication and people leadership, according to our database.

But what is the picture in the US? We are often told they prefer to look to the business development functions for their CEOs. Empirical evidence, however, suggests that whilst a fair number (~20%) of Fortune 500 CEOs do have a sales and marketing background, the largest proportion (~30%) spent their early years in finance (Heidrick and Struggles study, 2011).

In both countries, it appears that going straight from CFO to CEO is a relatively rare move (5% to 10%) – rather the step up from a significant operational role is considerably more common. All these permutations have implications for the likely development needs of the new incumbent – those transitioning in from Sales often need to grow their skills in managing change, whilst those moving to CEO from Operations may need to deepen their strategic understanding (WW database, 2016). quote2 Of course, these are general themes and every case will be different, but the message is clear – there are identifiable differences between the skills required at CEO compared to those demanded in many of the classic feeder roles.

This gets back to my original question, which organisations are bold enough to work closely with their Executive and Non-Executive colleagues to define the true succession plan, and undertake a process to allow development needs to be highlighted for the greater good? These are the organisations most likely to build sustainable success.

The Executive Search industry is increasingly alive to the value of offering coaching, assessment and development services alongside their traditional talent-finding capabilities. Wickland Westcott has been providing a fully integrated leadership service for nearly 40 years. In-house occupational psychologists work alongside market-focussed Search professionals to deliver exceptional client service and satisfaction. With extensive experience at ‘C Suite’ level, and half of our top 20 client list featuring in the FTSE 250/NYSE, Wickland Westcott has a clear picture of what makes for leadership success.


Signup to our Newsletter

By signing up to our newsletter, you are agreeing to receive monthly marketing emails containing thought leadership, event invitations and other industry insights. You can unsubscribe or change your preferences at any time. View our privacy policy for more information.

* indicates required





Content: Absolutely Essential, and Totally Insufficient

Content: Absolutely Essential, and Totally Insufficient

By Adam Hillier

There is a clear and growing market demand for candidates with social media understanding and expertise. Knowing how to target customers with relevant and valuable content that helps shape and change behaviours is crucial for businesses searching for ways to gain competitive advantage and appeal to today’s increasingly discerning customers. According to Richard Williams, former Head of Media, UK & Ireland at Yahoo! the best providers establish editorial credibility and ensure content is editorially owned. It is also important to identify the boundaries between marketing and content – consumers must be able to clearly recognise a commercial arrangement versus pure journalistic comment.

One of the features of the social media environment is that much of the content cannot be premeditated and pre-approved. Many of the checks and balances in place in more traditional media are therefore absent. Or at least they need to be, if the content is to be fresh and edgy.

For recruiting organisations, this means that the skills required are more rounded than simply thinking-up something clever to say – the ability to write in a compelling way, good vocabulary and grammar, and an understanding of the prevailing zeitgeist are all valuable. In short, good journalistic skills add considerable value.

Juliette Otterburn-Hall, Global Chief Content Officer at Beamly, suggests that clients too often lack clarity regarding the job specification. This may be because of difficulties imagining a role that doesn’t widely exist currently, and doesn’t naturally fit into a distinct discipline. Most traditional marketing teams are separated from those creating content, whilst editorial teams tend not to be commercial enough for content marketeers. And yet companies demand measurable results. Convergence therefore is not just happening in technology, but in the very disciplines required to deploy it effectively! Content, channels, analytics, return on investment – organisations now expect these skills need to be integrated. A marketing professional who can cover all these bases will be in great demand.

So what does this mean for organisations wishing to recruit these rare skills?

  • Take the time to think through exactly what outputs you want from the role
  • Ensure clear line-of-sight between role deliverables, and expectations concerning enhanced customer interaction, engagement and ultimately revenues
  • Be clear how the role fits into the marketing strategy, and the overall business strategy
  • Once you’ve created the role specification, share it with a few internal stakeholders to check understanding
  • Retain a Search partner (such as Wickland Westcott) who clearly understands the contemporary social media and marketing landscapes
  • Deploy a selection process that probes candidates on relevant expertise and experiences. Ask for lots of examples – work in this domain is likely to be publicly viewable
  • As well as the requisite technical skills, ensure the candidate will fit the culture of your team and business. Personality questionnaires such as Credo can be very useful here
  • Give the new recruit plenty of on-boarding support – set them up for success

The Executive Search industry is increasingly alive to the value of offering coaching, assessment and development services alongside their traditional talent-finding capabilities. Wickland Westcott has been providing a fully integrated leadership service for nearly 40 years. In-house occupational psychologists work alongside market-focussed Search professionals to deliver exceptional client service and satisfaction. With extensive experience at ‘C Suite’ level, and half of our top 20 client list featuring in the FTSE 250/NYSE, Wickland Westcott has a clear picture of what makes for leadership success.

For more information, or a confidential discussion on the points raised, please contact Adam Hillier our Lead for the Marketing & Digital Practice at Wickland Westcott on 0203 940 6446 or email at adam.hillier@wickland-westcott.email


Signup to our Newsletter

By signing up to our newsletter, you are agreeing to receive monthly marketing emails containing thought leadership, event invitations and other industry insights. You can unsubscribe or change your preferences at any time. View our privacy policy for more information.

* indicates required





Finning

Change Programme

Chief Executive Officer: "We were embarking on a significant business transformation project and initially used Wickland Westcott as a sounding board drawing on their experience and insight. They quickly understood our culture and the opportunities facing our managers and helped us establish a ‘culture of change’ across the senior leadership team. Wickland Westcott responded to our needs, were flexible in their approach, resonated with our team and have been a pleasure to work with."


Aviva

Developing Talent for Tomorrow

Chief People Officer: "Wickland Westcott understood our ambition to transform Aviva, and have worked with us on developing our leadership capabilities to meet that challenge. Thank you for your partnering, your preparation and your brilliance."


Diageo

Board Evaluation

Chairman: "In the discussions with us Wickland Westcott were thought provoking and showed a real desire to engage with the Diageo board in a way which we believed would help us improve. The results did not disappoint."