Also at Future Forum: How to Manage a Changing Workforce

Press enter to search
Close search
Open Menu

Also at Future Forum: How to Manage a Changing Workforce

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Bruce Tulgan, founder of consulting and training group Rainmaker Thinking and author/co-author of more than 15 books including It's Okay to be the Boss, told guests at Convenience Store News' Future Forum, held here at the Renaissance Vinoy resort, that he hoped to leave the audience with one new idea that would help them run their business.

Instead, Tulgan gave a wealth of information and insight into the largest and fastest growing demographics in the workforce -- Generation X and Generation Y -- and ideas on how to manage these employees to ensure they become successful leaders within organizations.

The American workforce can be divided into four generational groups. Those born before 1946 make up 40 percent of the workforce, while Baby Boomers hold 42 percent. Generation X -- those born between 1965 and 1977 -- hold 19 percent and the new generation, often referred to as Generation Y (born between 1978 and 1991) hold 22 percent of the workforce.

Because the two ends of the spectrum are changing -- the workforce is getting older at the same time it is getting younger -- there are changes occurring in the workplace -- a shift in attitudes, values, skills and perceptions about security -- that need to addressed to cultivate leaders out of the young inexperienced workforce, Tulgan explained.

Generation Y is similar to Generation X, but "on fast forward with self esteem and steroids," he said. They have higher expectations of themselves and the companies they work for, and are often seen as demanding. When asked to go the extra mile, they will reply "What do I get?" Tulgan said. Managers must not take this as an insult, but understand that they are asking for short-term rewards for tasks, not recognition in five or more years for their dedication.

Tulgan also gave a list of the seven biggest myths concerning young employee management:

-- The myth of empowerment: the idea that a way to empower is to leave employees alone to manage themselves. "This is only true in a land where we are all winners," Tulgan said.

-- The myth of fairness: fairness is perceived as treating everyone the same, but it is also doing more for those that are deserving.

-- The myth of the nice guy: bosses might think they are doing good by being friendly to employees, but it will backfire when subordinates need discipline. A friendly boss "can turn into jerk boss on a dime," he noted, leaving employees confused.

-- The myth of difficult confrontation: the thought that hands-off management means less confrontation is false, Tulgan said. "Hands-off means confrontation is inevitable," he said, adding that small fires that could have been prevented with confrontation early-on become large fires that are unmanageable.

-- The myth of the natural leader: managers that claim to be a poor leaders are incorrect, because everyone can learn.

-- The myth of the red tape: managers often use "red tape" or corporate bureaucracy to avoid situations.

-- The myth of time: When managers tell Tulgan they have no time for hands-on management, he responds: "You don't have time not to do this," he said. Managers do spend a lot of time managing -- putting out fires that didn't need to start in the first place, if there was a hands-on management approach, he explained.

With new generations of inexperienced workers entering the industry, management styles must be altered to tune into new generations' attitudes. If their concerns are not met, potentially high performing employees will seek employment at competitors, he said. "This era does not call for weak management -- it calls for strong management."

"The best young employee … has looked at the company and thought about purchasing it. And has thought about who to hold onto and who to fire -- and who to keep on as an outside consultant," he told attendees.