I got an email flyer on workforce development from ASTD this afternoon and thought to paste a reaction to some of their thinking, which I think tracks reality pretty well in this case.

The point that they made was that there are these Millennials in the workforce and they should be getting a lot of attention in regards to how we accomplish training and development and build teams and all that. They do tend to have different styles and different values. The social connections and use of technology are different and do represent some opportunities.

On the other hand, we see that Millennials as well as most other workers are also somewhat un-engaged and not greatly aligned and motivated in many workplaces. They are likely to get trained and then jump ship. There was an article online about Apple and how they are burning people out and the shift is to simply work there to get that on the resume instead of looking at them for “lifetime employment.”

(Boy is “lifetime employment” an oxymoron these days, or what!?)

You can see some ideas about involving and engaging people in my article called, “I Quit! Nevermind. Whatever…” on my articles page by clicking this link.

The thing that what caught my eye was this comment:

Despite these younger employees in the workforce, the workforce actually isn’t getting younger.  It’s moving in the opposite direction — the workplace is getting OLDER. Because of recent economic crisis, many workers have delayed their retirement plans and continue to work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of those 55 and older that remain in the workforce rose to over 68%. (In 1987, that number was 54%.)

Yes, the number of people over 55 working in organizations is 7 in 10.

And. according to a new survey by the Conference Board, two-thirds of workers between the ages of 45 and 60 are now planning to DELAY their retirement and work longer. That’s a 20-point jump from 2010 – when only 42% of workers had plans to put off their retirement. Job losses, low salaries, and declining home values are some of the main reason why Americans can no longer stick to their retirement plans and plan to keep working.

Thus, you have the “young guns” of eager, networked creatives entering in the workplace and you also have the established, grizzled (in my case!) people who have their ways of doing things, who have a great deal of tacit knowledge about how to make things work and get things done, and who might be somewhat resistant to change. How do you identify and resolve some of the conflicts? How do you build alignment and collaboration? How to you increase engagement?

How do you manage both groups, who are quite different? The answer is simple: Involve and engage and form teams and allow them to work together to strategize, design and implement new ideas and new innovations.

We have great team building programs that are designed to involve and engage people and generate momentum for improvement. Our flagship team building game, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, is the best exercise in the world — from what our extensive user base keeps telling us — for generating inter-organizational alignment and collaboration.

And our various Square Wheels toolkits and games like Innovate & Implement all work to generate a shared language of continuous continuous improvement in how things work and can be used to generate alignment and improve readiness to change.

Your managers should be your motivators.
Your people should be involved and engaged.

You can read a lot about our approaches to organization improvement, dis-un-engagement and engagimentation, and our general thoughts on innovation in the many different blog posts. At last count, there were nearly 200 posts on a wide variety of topics around people and performance in here.

If your organization can meet the challenges of this workplace environment, it should give you a significant advantage over the companies that will be stuck in the mud of performance and change.

Mud color yellow

We know that both groups can be highly productive and impactful — why not work to make them ONE coherent team aligned to your missions, visions and goals.

The skills needed by your management team, at every level, are those of facilitation and engagement. Good feedback and measurement systems can improve your likelihood of success with behavioral change. Doing things the same way will give you the same results.

For less than $50, you can have a tool to get started.
Check out our facilitation toolkit here.

P.S. – It is also true that 69%t of employed respondents are considered job seekers—meaning they’re actively seeking a new job or open to the idea. (See the Forbes article here)

Lastly, have some BIG FUN out there, yourself!

Scott Simmerman

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

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