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Generational Hiring: A Moot Point In the Wake of COVID-19


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New generations and ongoing workplace shifts make for fascinating studies. But, I find we focus too much on defining our teams based on their age demographic. This subject is coming into a new light amid the COVID-19 pandemic, where teams are working under unexpectedly difficult conditions.
New generations entering the workplace are helping to evolve how teams collaborate with technology. For some organizations, that may have helped lessen the shock — hopefully at least a little — that accompanied the requirement that most workers work from home for the foreseeable future.
Focusing on someone’s generation is quite limiting and often detrimental to an organization’s goals. It’s limiting because it presumes a colleague only has a particular set of skills based on the fact that he or she was born during a specific date range.
If we look at someone based solely on the decade in which he or she was born, it paralyzes our ability to see that person for what they are – a valuable colleague who, if empowered, can help transform an organization to drive greater results. It also illustrates how out-of-line priorities often are.
Technology is Critical for Success – Now More than Ever
COVID-19 is proving to be a catalyst for a swift change in the workplace. In terms of technology, organizations often look to younger generations with the idea that they grew up around it. Therefore, they must know how to use multiple devices and applications for organizational progress. But age doesn’t guarantee knowledge of innovation or how to deploy technology to achieve goals. There’s a gap that’s easily addressed to drive greater results.
Rather than focusing on generations, leaders should focus on solutions flexible enough for the diverse ways in which teams communicate to bridge the remote work barriers. These solutions have to be easy to use, so team members will use them to collaborate, regardless of their age, title, or job function.
Strong Leadership is a Must
Right now, much of the work environment may feel like it’s in flux. What teams need is clear direction and how they can help maintain an organization’s momentum — even amid the fluidity of the moment.
Too often, organizations fail to establish clear metrics for success, which leads to chaos and confusion at every level. I was struck by research from Gallup’s How to Adapt to Constant Change: Create It, which found the vast majority (70%) of decision-making is based on emotion. That means too little focus is placed (30%) on rational thought. Even in a time of crisis, success is the result of a series of intentional acts. Organizations that have displayed a visceral reaction to every bump in the road previously are struggling with the latest hurdle.
Gartner conducted a global survey of 4,000 employees, which concluded many managers admitted they have “a crisis of confidence” in their abilities. Just half of the more than 2,800 surveyed said they are well-equipped to lead their organization in the future.
During the current crisis, strong leaders who will be able to navigate this time in choppy waters will be well established. I feel for those that don’t have such leaders in place.
Build Your Team Wisely
How many companies have a tagline or a mantra that says something to the effect of “our people matter?” It’s a touching sentiment, but it begs the following questions: How are those people now that a global pandemic has broken out? Are they the right people to guide your organization during these challenging times? Or did you let some or all of them go at the first sign of trouble?
Leaders often mistakenly believe their products or services are the most crucial element of their business. But, organizations that hire the right people have just as significant an impact as any applications they produce; bluntly, right now, people will be the difference between success and failure for many organizations.
Successful leaders know they can’t just hire individuals based on previous job roles. They hire based on the best available candidates because they recognize a team comprised of the most talented people can accomplish any objective and drive greater results.
To create a team that is agile and able to navigate the unforeseen challenges of the moment and the future, an organization must define diversity in every possible way, including age.