In the previous part of this series, Steve Price, Executive Director of the EIIL, discussed the need for changes in the leadership skills used by the next generation of leaders to lead Generation C. In this second part of four, he discusses the retention of Gen C in the War for Talent.
As discussed last time, developing additional communications skills and an ability to lead increasingly multi-cultural distributed teams which remain connected internally are important additions to the skill set of any current industry leader. However, there are further considerations for today’s leaders.
Today’s technology graduates are more demanding than previous generations. They require changes to happen in the workplace, amongst the collective leadership of the company and in the attitudes and behaviours of individual leaders in order to deliver on a recruitment promise which will both attract and retain. Traditional industries first have to appear cool to command the attention of Gen C’s against competition from the ICT giants. Then they must deliver.
In principle, traditional industries can compete by offering fulfilling roles to Gen C and communicating these roles effectively. These include aspects such as meaningful work, a pleasant environment, awesome colleagues and a good work/life balance.
It’s important not to see Generation C as an extreme outlier in their expectations. Like others before them they will increasingly demand a varied career with regular exciting challenges and increases in responsibility with which to impress their peers. The key is that unlike previous generations the alternative offerings from other companies are much more visible. The pressure to impress their peers is higher, because of the increase in visibility afforded by social media.
Companies must be ready to offer clearly described entry level roles with in-house development schemes and progression opportunities which can be shown to require and develop increasing levels of skills. These skills have to be readily recognisable since this is key to peer-group-approval.
However, no matter how cool we make our company appear, our ability to deliver the recruitment promise is changing.
Currently, many if not most industrial leaders have followed a structured career path in their company to develop skills on the job. Now the industrial landscape is becoming more and more fragmented. Under the drive to focus on core competencies, companies are trading their business portfolios and pursuing a slow but steady transfer of skills, either offshore or to service providers who are more efficient and responsive. It follows that there will therefore be fewer development roles in-company.
At the same time, technology-driven changes are seeing the reduction of entry-level roles through automation. A general management career path in an operating company today involves assignments in an entry level role and in other development roles in order to gain an appreciation of various business functions. This basis of appreciation gives the opportunity for future broader roles within the business.
This is becoming increasingly difficult. Operating companies who wish to retain this essential appreciation step for their next generation leaders will have to be creative with job rotations, even considering starting assignments and temporary rotations on loan to their supply chain partners.
This is a company leadership issue requiring alternative employment contracts and procurement model changes, becoming increasingly important as talent becomes more scarce.
In addition to the ability to offer opportunities to develop, we need to consider the workplace attitudes and behaviours which will help to retain Generation C; help them resist the lure of predatory recruitment consultants and their seductive offers of greener grass across the fence in ICT-land.
This series is continued in part three, Next Generation Leaders: Generation C wild cards and 3F feedback. We’ll be releasing the whole series over the next couple of weeks so check back for more!