January Online Exclusive: Bridging the Gap: Part III

The changing roles of leadership and HR to move from the cultural divide to cultural co-existence


The role of human resources  

  • Talent recruiting: Effective cultural co-existence begins with this step. Getting the right candidates in the right place almost always ensures success. During the interviews, we often look for values fit but seldom look for cultural fit. We don’t frame a question about how someone would deal with this intergenerational diversity.  One can get useful cues about pacing, enthusiasm, respect and collaboration by looking for specific examples. Another sensitive area is that levels and compensation of niche players is lot higher. HR should bring candidates in at the right levels despite a lack of willingness to do so at times.
  • Roles redefinition: We discussed the nine characteristics that young and experienced leaders can develop in Part II. HR should relook at the key attributes of each role and strive to develop roles that address and develop these specific requirements  and characteristics. The young and experienced should be presented with a role that necessitates cultural co-existence and success in these roles, requiring them to work effectively together.
  • Reshaping culture: The intergeneration gap will become reality so beware of preferences to only certain types of candidates, which delays the obvious. HR should actively create intergeneration gaps and prepare organizations to adapt to this new reality. Future leaders of the organization should be groomed for their capability to be inclusive, dealing effectively with the intergenerational issues and create opportunities to develop them. Collaboration can be promoted by setting up open culture/environment of office space, incentives, rewards and recognitions to change people’s behavior.
  • Nurturing diversity: Diversity is often misconstrued for culture, gender and ethnic diversity—though they are very important. True diversity comes from thought, which can be achieved by bringing the right blend of education, experience and exposure. HR should have an open mind during the hiring process, which means moving away from key word based searches and showing openness to move people across functions. HR should pay particularly close attention to paternalistic promotions and roles filled by people coming from a certain function or background and address it appropriately.
  • Sensing sentiments: HR can play the role of a detector or sensor of cultural co-existence. Great teams that can work better together provide visual cues of excitement, enthusiasm and results. Detections also can be performed by looking at the overall mix and diversity, tempo of dialogues in a group setting, people demonstrating team spirit, expression of thoughts and candidness in discussion. HR should pay particular interest to candidates, know them on a personal basis and use those settings to probe about cultural sentiments.
  • Restructuring measures: Everyone can relate to the fact that real world measures drive most behavior.  For successful cultural coexistence, effectiveness of the young leader should be measured by his or her ability to go from ideation to value generation and doing so by relying and collaborating with more experienced counterparts. The experienced leaders should be measured on their ability to develop well-rounded leaders and driving organizational change process.
  • Acting decisively: HR should act swiftly and decisively in matters relating to respect, inclusion and intergenerational conflict generators/promoters. Being fair and tough in such matters sends the signal that such behavior will not be tolerated and that such cultural co-existence is active part of the organization value.  The future promotions for leaders at all levels should be measured on their ability to promote, thrive successfully and foster collaborations.

The role of executive leadership

Finally we finish with the role of the most important stakeholder in the organization, the Senior Executive Team. Here are six things senior executives should do to promote an enduring supply chain where intergeneration gaps can successfully co-exist.  

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