Tackling the XY Generation Gap

Those who have come into management jobs in the last 18 years of clip_image002growth and affluence now have challenges.

Companies are now very lean and highly intent on remaining viable as they look to position for upturn when it comes.  The skills for pulling all this all together are in short supply.

I am not sure if the so called XY Gen awakening is so evident yet. But these guys are seriously racing to get skill sets needed to manage all this. I have no doubt that there is  a rapid maturing of the so called good times over indulging and conservative “me” generations that make up much of our business culture .

I am privileged as a real McCoy baby boomer, like many of my peers, to have done quite well in life, We have made the mistakes through some good and tough times and now find we can still add significant value and ideas to younger managers of today.

As source of great power for us is  the natural peerage of old boy’s networks. But adding to this now are  recent innovations such as online professional networks and social networking. LinkedIn for example has reconnected me with many former peers whom I had lost regular touch with.

I now connect and sometimes even meet up with a much wider circle of old boys for business and current issue discussions. It is like being in a private club where your past successes and sins are known and taken for granted as part of the journey of life.  The great thing is “me” is out as is competitive vying. Such self indulgence is not tolerated  so people actually make valuable contributions as they listen.

With such transparency and social circumspection the pearls of pure wisdom just drop out in most conversations. And many XYGENs are taking up these forums too and getting it all by osmosis as they quickly pick up the threads and contribute well. They are also naturally forming their own breed of networks as they realize the value more so than we ever could.

In a meeting for breakfast recently I joined one such old boy’s network, for a comfortable continuance that has met for years. Discussions were about stability issues and business and personal ongoing prosperity. Double edged and quite eclectic interaction was only punctuated  by plates clattering and “more coffee Sir”.  From this peer meeting I  left my mates with a sense, that for many of us BB, time is not quite right to let go of  the reins.

At that breakfast we discussed many things like managers ability to reincarnate themselves from acquisition to  restructure mode; from asset stripper to asset preservationist; and from strategic planner to a strategic implementer and so on. We also discussed the value of high risk investment of training  human resources who invariable left as they were coming of age. We also covered things like basic skills and willingness to do things. Consensus was clear that a plethora of ready-made skills of small contracting teams now also give us better options.

Many of these skills, being movers and shakers in their time who can still make it happen, are now keen to rejoin a team and work for a steady fee to bring in results. Hence the choice is there at least in the short term to be able to chose from the “best” without the “invest”.

We also discussed the world wide latency that is evident generally in people’s ability to plan and change and move on new strategies. A consensus also offered is that this is now limited by relentless focus on process automation and wide use of cheaper process labour that discourages initiative and innovative thinking. The  knowledge workers and middle management who are responsible for now are much more skilled at concentrating on getting logical efficiencies and KPI driven results so a large gap has opened on innovation.

Looking forward with these work practices  and markets changing rapidly, we also pondered the folly that conservative XYGENs, making up much of the middle managements, may be  displacing  aging experience that is flexible and still current and comes without attitude and  and often at lower cost to make it happen.

So seems as business leaders we need to rethink and fix this problem if our businesses are to survive another generation.  Our XYGENS must plan well the takeover completely as the old guys let go or drop off the perch.

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