Culture and Innovation: Are you really listening to your Gen Y employees?

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Culture and Innovation: Are you really listening to your Gen Y employees?

Creating the future of our organizations is a vital role that we often assign to our most senior and experienced leaders. We also recognize that the culture needed to execute this future needs to be shaped today, to be a match for our commitments. But how often do we really look around the room and admit that the people present may not be the best group to be creating the culture and foundations for a future, 5 or 10 years down the road? How many will be close to retirement when that future is fulfilled.

Culture and Innovative leadership.

A few years ago, one of the “catalytic projects” chosen by a cross-national group I was working with was to create the conditions for “Multi-Generational Management”. The group recognized that successful ‘high-tech’ businesses need to take on new technologies and ways of working that are emerging and rapidly changing in today’s environment. A conventional management team, traditionally composed of senior personnel who have often spent a significant period working within the business may not be fully qualified to generate real growth and innovation, and not equipped to see their business through fresh eyes.

This group saw that new possibilities could be available with a leadership team composed of and embracing the expertise of both the older and younger generations present within their business unit, and better serve its strategic development. After some research, benchmarking and brainstorming, they chose to break from the traditional set-up of their leadership team and innovate by including 2 young engineers in their Business Unit Board meetings. A few years down the road, this practice still lives on, and a new team of 2 has been invited to Board meetings, bringing even more constructive challenge and new thinking.

Interestingly, this practice has not permeated to other business units in the wider organization. Why is that? Culture change and innovation require the willingness to challenge the status quo and experiment! If you look around at your leadership team, are you really listening to younger employees? Are you being inclusive and innovative in your culture and management practices?

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