Leader Development: Solve for Women and Solve for X&Y
My mother always said that the most worthwhile things to do are the hardest. So it is with solving the problem around attracting, retaining, and growing women leaders in our organizations. But here’s the thing: if you do this right, you can create a triple return. Solve for women, and you will also have a roadmap to solve the leadership development challenges you face with your Gen X and Y employees.
Let’s start by re-visiting what women want from their employers. According to research from Manpower and LinkedIn:
- 65% want flexible work options – but only 28% of companies provide them
- 100% want a clear career path – but only 51% feel they have one
- Equality of pay and opportunity
- A one-size-fits-one approach to professional development
And what does Gen X and Gen Y talent want? A 2014 study by Tammy Erickson Associates showed that:
- Over 40% cite workplace flexibility as the ideal work arrangement
- Over 50% cite long-term career opportunity as critical to choosing a place to work
- About 40% are looking for flexible career options – a one-size-fits-one approach
In the last two years, I have had very intense conversations with clients who are wrestling with attraction, retention, and growth challenges in their Gen X and Y populations.
- In one instance, the organization had lost a number of key individuals due to lack of career flexibility. Digging further, I discovered that almost all had been men and that several had been trying to conceal their involvement in kids’ birthday parties and soccer games by fabricating social events with clients.
- Another client told me that he was starting to see a number of X and Y talent – both male and female – leave the organization because there wasn’t a clear plan in place for their career progression. All the seats at the top and mid-level were taken and there was no movement.
- A clash in working styles was causing concern at another organization. The top X and Y talent they had invested in did not want to follow the regimented work schedule that had long been favored by partners at the top of the firm. Instead, these potential next-generation leaders were so intent on carving out more family time, they were willing to take pay cuts to achieve that flexibility.
Almost all of my clients face significant challenges related to a multi-generational workforce. At the same time, they are having trouble attracting, retaining, and growing women into leadership roles. I believe that organizations have the opportunity to adapt their working models and talent management practices in fundamental ways that will address the concerns of all these segments. Here are just a few of the “multi-genderational” ways that organizations can modify their talent practices, job structures, and workplace environment to show talented employees of all ages and genders that you hear their voices:
- Shift performance management to focus on task completion, not time spent
- Design career paths that broaden, rather than narrow, their options
- Provide world-class learning opportunities in all forms
- Embrace time shifting and flexible schedules, with family-friendly flexibility
- Give them choice and control over their career paths
- Create a collaborative, team-based working environment
Think about the talent in your organization. What practices are you willing to look at differently to make sure they are fully engaged in their work and in the success of the organization?