I wrote about how I invest in my career and one of the strategies is watching the Modern Workplace video series produced by Microsoft. I recently watched an episode titled Global Workforce: The new culture of work that I felt was really worth sharing with my readers and fellow peers in IT. In this blog post I'd like to share with you what I learned and inspire you to explore this topic deeper and what this means for your organization.
In the video Microsoft host Alex Bradley interviews two guests from the industry: Kelly Joscelyne Chief Talent Officer, Mastercard and Cam Marston President, Generational Insights who offer interesting insights on the topic of generational and cultural differences in the workforce.
Here's what I learned:
(These notes are a mixture of quotes from the speakers that resonated with me and my own interpretation)
Understanding generational and cultural differences is a dilemma for most leaders
Businesses that have a globally distributed workforce with employees located anywhere, these employees are most likely also customers of your business. This means that by better understanding your employees, you also better understand your business.
Generations have biases on technical expertise
As humans we may develop bias that some generations are more technically savvy than others. A critical function of business, technology is owned by youth and is unprecedented.
Expectations differ, such as with speed of realization
Life stages of generations influence expectations of technology. Different generations have different life stages, but all humans want the same things – compliments, reward, recognition, etc. Generations are actually similar, but what's happening in the world is different – and many share the same experiences. Going through life stages changes a generation's perceptions.
There are 3 common hurdles:
Cultural Sensitivity: What are the sensitivities with generations? How can you tap into everyone in the organization and be inclusive but yet spur innovation that is diverse? Lack of awareness.
Social Distance: Leading teams across borders. How do you build trust in teams that aren't in the office (or same location as you?) this can be difficult. "Water cooler" talk is important to social health and important to build effective teams. How do you do this virtually?
Communication and Tone: What's the feedback loop look like within the company? What about when emails or social channels are used? Communication can easily be misinterpreted between cultures.
Leaders must gain a deeper understanding of their people and finding time to do so is extremely important. Finding collaboration tools helps to bridge cultures. Leaders must ensure that everyone has a voice while being sensitive to cultural tendencies. You have to co-create and be inclusive.
Build trust by being human, having empathy and following thru (and building trust). Spend quality time with your people.
People want to work for an organization that touches their need for cause and purpose. What I found really interesting: "perks by tech companies have trickled into traditional workplaces". Providing a connected purpose for employees is critical but employers find it difficult to provide the perks.
Wrap Up: This portion of the video was about 22 minutes in length, and I found it interesting – certainly talking points to use. This gives me ideas for how using technology to build the humans in teams together to be empowered to do great things together.
The remainder of the video was an overview of Microsoft 365 by Jack Elmorm from Microsoft. He delivered some great demos on Microsoft Teams and how teams communicate in different ways, 3D in PowerPoint for visual aids, Azure Cognitive Services for language translation, live language translation in PowerPoint using subtitles to multiple languages during a presentation (audiences can follow along the presentation on their own device, in their own language). This was really cool!