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


Culture: Probably the biggest contribution to success is the executive’s ability to create a culture where intergenerational professionals can co-exist and the rest follows. To make culture stick and produce results, senior executives must clearly define the behaviors they need, and work relentlessly, building an environment where those behaviors are common and rewarded. People who deviate from this behavior should be dealt with swiftly.

Leadership: Practicing what you want your team to follow is a very critical aspect of leadership management. Research has indicated that cultures where leaders practice collaboration are likely to have their teams collaborate effectively. Employ walk the talk style leadership where senior executives embrace social media or technology, acting responsibility and practicing the behavior they want exhibited by their teams. With social connectivity, senior executives should be particularly careful how they behave.

Entrepreneurial atmosphere: Young leaders particularly prefer entrepreneurial behavior and are tend to be risk takers. Senior executives should provide air cover and support for taking calculated risks and promote that behavior. Set up an entrepreneurial atmosphere that appeals to young leaders where calculated risk taking is appreciated and applauded; provide appropriate tools and resources to succeed. Be forgiving of innocent mistakes and use it as a coaching moment and help shape their “mindware” to be in a continuous learning framework.

Approachability:  Senior leaders should demonstrate approachability in all forms. This includes office setups where openness in communication is promoted, open door policy to welcome questions and concerns, being personable and taking time to mentor leaders. Also create a strong sense of community feeling where ideas are welcome from anyone; people are willing to reach out to others beyond the functional boundaries to foster free exchange of information.

Behavioral empathy:  Senior executives need to be empathetic to the behavioral traits of the young professionals. This includes being perceptive of their preferences in work styles, social awareness and connectivity,  and environmental sustainability. Senior executives should embrace these new social norms to demonstrate openness toward finding a mutually workable solution to attract and retain talent.

Rewards and recognition: Create the right incentives and rewards for proper behavior of both young and experienced professionals. Use differentiated incentives that appeal to both the cultures: long-term incentives for experienced professionals and options/stocks/recognitions for younger generations. Make the rewards and recognitions visible so it sends the right signals to the rest of the organization and nurtures the right behavior. Celebrate team-based performance and wins.

About the author: Shekar Natarajan is Senior Director of Supply Chain Planning, Anheuser Busch InBev in St. Louis. He is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of Supply & Demand Chain Executive magazine. He was formerly the Director of Supply Chain for the Pepsi Beverages Co. Natarajan was recognized as Supply & Demand Chain Executive’s 2011 Next Generation Thought Leader for the Supply Chain.

 

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