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I got the chance to catch the Great Eggspectations session – a panel discussion during CompTIA ChannelCon 2018 earlier this month at Marriott Wardham Park in Washington, D.C. As always, this great format brings together differing perspectives that generate thought-provoking conversation. On the menu was how to build a strong multigenerational workforce (or as I like to call it, a tasty workforce omelet), a practical topic that companies genuinely wrestle with that also has real impact on our productivity and job satisfaction.
The panel was led by T.C. Doyle, senior director of content at Informa. Representing the youngest members of the workforce were Alec Stanners, director of marketing and strategic alliances from BVoIP, and Hannah Lloyd, senior channel manager at Inbay Ltd. Representing Gen Xers was Jay Tipton, CEO at Technology Specialists. And rounding out the panel representing Baby Boomers was John Rice, president at Think Channel.
Doyle asked the panel, “What was the most productive workplace you ever worked in?” Rice said, “It was at a company where we were a driven team, with a good and effective plan, that we followed religiously.” Lloyd had a more personal perspective. “At Inbay, we are like family.” Both Tipton and Stanners were the introverts of the panel, preferring environments where they were left alone so that they can focus, but with also lots of opportunity to communicate when necessary.
Next the panel was asked how they solve inter-generational issues when they arise. Rice said, “The best way to resolve most issues is clear communication and being open with each other. When you get to a point where you can’t communicate, then it is time to cut bait.” Bringing home this point, Tipton shared that he recently had to let an engineer go who screwed up an installation and then decided to leave early. When confronted, he said that he did not like Tipton’s management style and didn’t understand how any of these issues were his fault. “It is hard to work with people who can’t take personal responsibility for their work.”
Adding her perspective, Lloyd said that her generation at times struggles with a hierarchy. “The best thing that ever happened to me was being in an environment where I was allowed to fail and then learning from it.” She felt that as millennials get more experience in the workforce, they will become more adept at navigating a structured work environment.
To build workforce cohesion, Rice recommended building a culture where you are expected to honor what you say you will do. When this happens, trust is built and teams perform well. Stanners shared that his CEO gets the most out of everyone through frequent communication – citing that he speaks with his CEO three or four times a day.
Tipton recommended teams eating together. “There is something about the social nature of a meal that allows people to bond and freely share ideas that is often lacking in formal workforce interactions.” Lloyd agreed, sharing that what she appreciates most at Inbay is a culture of mutual respect.
The panel was then asked about how to build employee loyalty. Stanners felt that loyalty comes from creating a great work experience every day. If people enjoy coming to work, they are not going to jump ship nearly as easily. Rice added that young people need the opportunity to grow fast and moving from one company to another provides that. There is nothing wrong with this, it’s just where people are at in different stages of life.
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