Talking about a generation

Making generalizations about an entire generation is a perilous exercise. Stereotypes are not helpful! That being said, for employers, cracking the Millenial code is essential to recruiting – and retaining – new talent.

This week, a panel of five MBAs had a lively dialogue with the participants of the IMD Transformation Summit, an event for Chief Human Resources Officers (CHROs). What better way to dispel stereotypes than to bring generations together in the same room?

Here were some of the hot button topics in this week’s discussion of Millenials in the workplace: Bosses, job offers, patience, purpose, ambition and loyalty.

What is your idea of a good boss?

  • Someone who creates a mentoring and coaching relationship. Someone who explains the “why.”
  • Authentic, honest about the pros and cons of the company and the role I am being recruited for. During the job interview process, it’s important to create trust. It should be a dual exchange and not just being evaluated on a checklist.

What would make you reject an employment proposal?

  • A lack of transparency in terms of where and when decisions get made in the company.
    There has to be fairness and also recognition.
  • It’s about mindset. I love to challenge the status quo. I like smaller brands, not a big, successful company.
  • It’s essential to have responsibility and room to manoeuvre. I need space and safety to develop ideas.
  • I need to feel a passion for what I do, passion for the product.

How long are you willing to wait until you get to the leadership role you’re aiming for (whatever your ambition is in terms of the level of leadership role)?

  • I’m flexible, as long as I can keep growing. It’s about assembling building blocks for the future. I’m looking for a role where I’m completely utilized, where my talents are used.

What big thing would you change in the business world?

  • Short-termism. When you have profit targets, going quarter to quarter limits your options.

Millenials are perceived as being less loyal to the companies they work for and more likely to move around a lot. Is this true? How do you see loyalty?

  • I’m loyal to my co-workers and my boss, but with the company it’s a contract.

What are you looking for in terms of work-life balance and job evolution?

  • A more fluid and flexible schedule: if my task, output and time frame are clear, it makes sense for me to organize myself in the way that suits me best to deliver.
  • I’d like the possibility to move in 3D (industry, geography, function) and to have transversal roles.

Imagine we are a company undergoing a transformation from a traditional and hierarchical organization to a new model. How do we retain you though this process? Inspire you?

  • Show me that there is light at the end of the tunnel: create a career plan for me, map the steps clearly.
  • Be honest and open about the realities of the transformation.
  • Seeing progress is important – even small progress. Show the plan for change. Demonstrate that you’re implementing feedback.
  • The company has to make sure the flame is still there!

Chairing the discussion was Jennifer Jordan, Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behaviour. To frame the discussion, Professor Jordan gave an overview of the unique characteristics of Millenials (see Cracking the Millenial Code). For example, Millenials are the first generation brought up with a child-focussed and emotional style that arose from 1960s counter-culture. They are also the first to grow up in a rich media environment offering complex and non-linear computer games. Values also differ: when asked to choose an object that represents freedom to them, Baby Boomers choose the car whereas Millenials choose the mobile phone, closely followed by sneakers!

Anouk Lavoie
IMD Research Associate

“It was very beneficial to be part of the panel as I had the opportunity to debate what the main challenges are that companies have attracting Millennial talent. I felt that companies have this matter on the top of their agenda, and are striving to create environments where Millennials can have a meaningful career.”

David Ruiz
IMD MBA 2018 Candidate

Looking back

The  2018 class have dispersed to different parts of the world to enjoy their much deserved vacation! Hopefully, one or two of them will share their adventures with us over this month. But in the meantime, below is an entry posted this time 10 years ago. The Stewart Hamilton Scholarship for Women was created in memory of this great professor, who taught our MBAs for many years. Continue reading “Looking back”

Day 5 – Innovation Challenge

The entrepreneurial rollercoaster is on, and we start to enjoy the ride. It is day five in the IMD Innovation Challenge and our master coach made it clear that we are passing through the informed optimism phase, an excellent place to be. This week has been a constant spin of ups and downs, it started with the great excitement of an idea, it passed from the hard crisis of a reality check, to when we critically readdressed our project towards a new and unexpected dimension. Continue reading “Day 5 – Innovation Challenge”

When all you want is “nothing”

my tryst with minimalism

One of our MBA partners this year, Swati Dalal, shares her impressions of Lausanne and new opportunities.

 

Last year, I came across a beautiful article on minimalism, in which the author eloquently explained how her family had taken a conscious call to follow a minimalistic lifestyle to unclutter their lives. The article really struck a chord with me. It was like looking into the mirror.

More clothes than we can wear, more food than we can eat, more work than we can do, more friends than we can love – maximum life (or minimum) in maximum city. While excessive consumerism has become synonymous with well-being, you don’t need an understanding of welfare economics or Pareto’s principle to comprehend that socio-economic divide is at the helm of most (if not all) conflicts in the world. We love blaming the politicians, the corporate houses, even God, while we hide behind an occasional visit to the orphanage.

I would be a hypocrite to say that I am any different. While the article made me ruminate on my lifestyle, I did not find it very practical. To me, it was an American thought propagated by an Instagram mom. It was her “thing”. Good on Facebook, not so much in real life, at least not in my life.

However, sometimes the Universe knows what’s best for you. A month back, we moved to Lausanne – a new life, limited means. It is incredible how much our context defines our lifestyle. With no family, no jobs and no friends, we had no context in Lausanne to influence our choices. We were “nobodies” and trust me, at times, that’s the best thing that can happen to you!

As we went about laying our new life, I knew it was time for me to embrace what I had been wanting all along. It was my chance at having “less” and living “more”. For the first time in my life, I started differentiating between need and want. And it was not just me!! As I got to know the city of Lausanne, I was overwhelmed by its efforts to reduce improvidence.

This was in complete contrast to my perception of the western world (defined by Hollywood, books, sitcoms etc.). No QSR outlets choking the streets, no big malls luring customers, no under-construction multi-storey buildings, no neon signs glaring in your face. Lakes, parks, walking and cycling tracks, quiet restaurants, antique boutiques. A walk down the lane and you would know that this town is not looking to BUY, not looking to SELL. More people on walk-ways than in the supermarkets, more people in the community centre than in H&M. You already know what the city stands for, and if you don’t, then try recycling! This town does not believe in wastefulness.

I was amazed to see that a city that has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world, houses people that consider it a personal responsibility to allocate trash in eight (or maybe more) categories for recycling! From house sizes to recreational activities to food choices, the austerity is evident.

I came across people who make soap at home to protect the environment from harmful chemicals, and those who would feed only whole grains to birds at the lake (no white bread please!). I had never come across this level of social consciousness and it was overwhelming.

Needless to say that the goodness rubbed off, not just on me, but on my daughter as well. From having a room full of toys, she came down to a couple of dolls. And, from having a huge wardrobe, I came down to a couple of sweaters. The change had a purging effect. It was incredible how little we had to choose between, and how much time and energy that saved. I discovered recipes that she enjoyed, and she made paintings, which I put on the wall. We cooked, played, walked, trekked, and we did not need anything to do anything.

Just a couple of days before we left to return to India, we went to a shop which had some toys. As my daughter had not bought a single toy in three weeks, I thought of treating her with something small. I asked her what she wanted to buy, she just looked at me and said “Mom, I don’t want anything. I have toys at home.”

Swati

P.S- We are back in Mumbai and trying hard to keep up with our new lifestyle!

 

 

Snowshoes as a way to get to know each other

Professor Knut Haanaes joined IMD in 2017 and is currently the Deputy Dean of the MBA program and a professor of Strategy at IMD. His research interests are related to strategy, digital and sustainability. Before joining IMD, Professor Haanaes was a senior partner at The Boston Consulting Group. Continue reading “Snowshoes as a way to get to know each other”