Meet the Millennials: The next generation of your workforce. Be warned they think differently to you.

Posted on : 31-07-2014 | By : richard.gale | In : Innovation

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Whilst talking with a senior manager at one of the big banks he mentioned he was having trouble with some of his graduate trainees. He couldn’t work out why, after their two year induction, they were having such difficulties in ‘getting out there’ and making their mark on the business. We talked about this after the meeting and our thinking is that the traditional way of working may now be changing with the new generation of Millennials.

Every new generation now has a name- ‘Teenagers, Baby boomers, Generation X and now the Millennials – these are people born between 1980 and 2000 and are now growing up and changing the way organisations function and think. Obviously all these names are broad generalisations but how is this group of people different? The following list identifies the key characteristics of the Millennial:

They Multi-task naturally

Doing several things at once, updating social media, listening to music, watching something else whilst tapping out a note on their iPad is the norm for the Millennial generation. They are easily distracted they are great skills for the real world of work where there are always multiple things to get done. The prioritised, ordered to-do list is history and these guys take everything on at once. What needs to be managed is a clear set of goals that need to be achieved in relatively small and short pieces. This will ensure the most important stuff gets done first.

Their lives are connected and they are immersed in technology

Everything is available and connected, all answers are out there either through searching web, social media or just putting a question out there for an instant response. If your company isn’t out there using these channels then it effectively does not exist. Technology in all its forms is part of life now for this generation. There is no real need to train or get them ‘up to speed’ with applications but they will question why they can’t use their own devices and apps at work and why the firewall won’t let them get to Facebook.

They desire recognition and praise

They need this instantly and often, yearly reviews will not cut the mustard with them. They are used to feedback, likes, comments, suggestions as soon as they put something out there and they generally don’t mind who sees it. Recognising this need is important in hiring and retaining young people. Products are evolving to work in this way – just take a look at Salesforce’s work.com (previously Rypple) that provides that continuous, on-going communication.

They need a great work/life balance

This is really about flexibility for both employee and employer. Millennials are hardworking and play hard too but they expect work to fit into their lives and they want balance. Companies need to show that they can flex and also, as importantly, be more than a faceless organisation. Employee events, charities, perks such as fitness clubs all help. Millennials will work hard to get the job done on time but don’t want to be dictated to on how to do it or where to do it from.

They demand transparency and honesty from those around them

Part of the frequent feedback and interaction is a level of openness and honesty. This needs to be encouraged and reciprocated by any employer or partner if they are going to succeed in retaining the millennials.

They are great team players

The new generation are all about teams, collaboration and communication. The days of going off, sitting alone and pushing through a set of work until completion are finished with these guys. Teamwork, sharing, supporting and pushing hard is where they excel.

They are ambitious

They have grown up with expectations that they can ‘do anything, go anywhere’.  It is critical that we support this as there is so much confident talent out there.

 

As to our senior manager friend at the bank, we talked again and he now sees the true benefits of working with the new generation and he’s loving it and changing too!

 

 

The aggregation of marginal gains – what can we learn from the sport of cycling?

Posted on : 30-09-2013 | By : richard.gale | In : General News

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Sir David Brailsford is the major driver behind a revolution in the fortunes of British Cycling. The UK is now one of the most successful cycling nations with two successive Tour de France winners from Team Sky, a team that was put together barely 4 years ago. Fifteen years ago British cycling was languishing in the lower divisions, now it is riding high in the world rankings.

One of the most interesting techniques Brailsford has applied to cycle coaching is the “aggregation of marginal gains” the sum of analysing & making many small changes to an environment or training plan.  Many examples have been quoted such as heating bib shorts before use to keep the muscles warm, wiping tyres down with alcohol before the start of races to clean grit off and employing a chef to provide optimised meals for the riders.

One specific example of this is the Team Sky Bus. Every competitor has a bus but, before Brailsford and his team, none had thought about in the same way. Team Sky started from scratch and built it out to provide the perfect environment to support the riders on the tours. Every part of the rider’s routine was analysed and an environment was then designed to meet their needs perfectly. Riders need lots of clean, dry kit, the need lots of nutritious interesting food, they need somewhere private to discuss the days’ events and plan for the next one. So the bus included washing machines (muffled of course), meeting rooms, kitchen & sleeping areas customised for the riders.

The attention to detail (and an almost unlimited budget) showed through when two brand new Volvo coaches were torn apart and then 9000 man hours of kitting out took place. This process involved the coaches, riders and other staff with continuous feedback which refined the result into an additional pair of team members. Initially the rival teams dismissed the buses nicknamed “Death Stars” as just another bus (abet – expensive they ended up costing around £750k each)but as Sky’s daily results on the tours jumped up the leader boards they came to learn and respect the thought processes involved.

So what lessons can we learn on the Sky approach? Well the techniques they are using have been borrowed from business ideas but it is the consistent application of them which is making them work so well.

GB cycling & the Sky team have a similar philosophy based on the following core principles:

Setting ambitious goals

From a standing start in 2010 Brailsford said Team Sky would win the Tour de France within five years. This was seen as ludicrous by the cycling establishment. He disrupted conventional thinking by applying scientific methods to the sport and, with Bradley Wiggins victory in 2012, it actually took them three years.

We think this ‘shooting for the stars’ ambition can work for business just as well. Aiming for what could be done not what is being done changes the way people think within companies and, given the right environment, support, drive and that ambition does create winning organisations.

Focus on the end result

What is important? All around there is noise, interference and distractions so keeping the ‘blinkers’ on to aim for the end-game is critical. Saying that, blindly ignoring feedback or responses around you can be fatal too so ensuring you are aiming for the right end result is also critical.

Teamwork & Ensuring the whole team has one vision

All organisations have teams. Team GB & Sky have ensured the right mix of individuals form a team with a common, shared goal. This is something which is part directed, part in built and always reinforced. Everyone understands the obligations and rewards of having the single winning vision.

Analyse everything

Data is everything and unlocking its hidden value is another key to the team’s success. Everyone in the team understands the value of capturing as much information as possible and that data is analysed and replayed in as near time as possible. The Sky team sometimes forgo the glory of the ‘hands free’ roll over the finishing line to punch in the completion message on their bike computers.

Control & Discipline

There is a poster on the entrance to the team bus with the Team rules re-emphasises the importance of the vision and goals of the team. It does not spell out the penalties for infringement but a number of people have left the team after breaching rules either during or before their stint with Sky.

Grow the person

This is the aim of most businesses but both GB and Sky aim to get inside their team members’ heads to understand their motivations, desires and ambitions. This energy is then focussed in such a way to build and improve the team whilst maximising the personal objectives of the person.

Plan and plan flexibility

Team GB & Sky management and riders spend a large amount of their time planning for every eventuality including differing weather conditions, team strengths, rivals changing strategies and  any other factors that can influence the race. They then produce the strategic plan of the race, the day, the hour or the hill. The important piece is that any changing circumstances are fed into the plan to modify or indeed create a new plan as it is required. It is strong enough to hold up and work but flexible enough change and still be a success.

 

All these attributes can be applied to most business areas and it is the ability to plan and refine every detail which has provided British cycling and Sky with their continued success. Small continuous improvements bring marginal gains to both Sport and also Business teams.

What is also critical is that the strategy or ‘big picture’ is going in the right direction. There is no point bringing the right pillow if the bus is parked in the wrong town.

 

 

High Performing Teams – Preparing for the “Long Haul”

Posted on : 19-10-2011 | By : john.vincent | In : General News

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This month Broadgate Consultants sponsored a car in the Britcar24 race at Silverstone.  Beforehand we knew little about the event but at the very least it seemed a good opportunity to support Adam, one of our associates in the Scuderia Vittoria team.  So we went ahead and with 10 days to go we had a quick look at the logistics and sorted out the admin.  Then back to work…

On the Friday qualifying we enquired how preparation was going.  Adam said it was going well, currently 31st on the grid and 7th in class, although a fire somewhere in the exhaust system was a bit of a set back !  I’m not a car enthusiast, but even to a novice that sounded bad.  Anyway, a new one was fitted ( along with a replacement bumper ) and after night qualifying we retained our overall position.

The race started was due to start at 4:30pm on the Saturday, so we headed up to take in the day’s activities, again not really knowing what to expect.  When we arrived we went to the garage and met the drivers and support team.  A few things struck me immediately.

Firstly, it looked very busy with the car still undergoing extensive tuning and race preparation.  The race planning and strategy had already been developed from the previous days testing, so it was really just about getting the final details correct.  Our car was a Porsche 996 GT3 and Adam ran us through the spec, including some positives compared to the competition, which had faster cars and were positioned further up the grid.

“It doesn’t actually really matter where we are now, it’s where we are this time tomorrow” ( obvious perhaps, but it hadn’t been until then ).

Secondly, the level of teamwork, commitment and endurance required to run any car, let alone a performance one, for a solidly for 24 hours was both impressive and daunting.  Adam explained that every car would likely spend an amount of time off the track dealing with technical problems of some kind.  It was how the team prepared and reacted to the situation that would determine the final outcome.  It was clear that finishing in itself would be a huge success !

These themes are naturally easy to relate to business.  We often see organisations with seemingly faster acceleration that are “quicker off the line” but don’t always come out on top.  In previous economic climates this might have been less obvious as once the race was underway the finish line could just be moved to suit the participants.  Not so now.

Also, in high performing teams the short-term view that may have existed ( driven largely by yearly compensation ) has given way to 1) building long-term capability and 2) delivering sustainable business value.  Looking at return on investment on more of a strategic basis can be difficult to internally sell against the economic backdrop, but it is sensible ( see last month’s blog on Technology Investment ).

Characteristics of High Performing Teams

  • Communication ( Common Goals + Openness + Inclusion )
  • Collectiveness ( Content Intimacy + Empowered Decision Making + Creativity )
  • Contribution ( Flexible Leadership + Personal Growth + Individual Self Esteem )
  • Interaction ( Trust + Respect + Constructive Conflict )

Back to the race….after a quick walk round the grid the race started and we made great progress through the field.  Up from 31st to 19th in the first couple of hours.  Then we had a driveshaft failure and the team went to work.  Now, at my garage I’m sure there would have been copious amounts of breathing in followed by “…it’ll be ready a week Wednesday” ( and of course accompanied by a lightening of the wallet ).  However, we were back on the road and amazingly lost only 9 places.  A brilliant effort under pressure.

We returned home in the evening with the car still running well.  Overnight there was an issue with the brakes ( not good at those speeds ) which was again resolved.  We monitored the race throughout Sunday with updates both via Twitter and from our onsite representative.  At 4:30pm we crossed the line having completed the 24 hours successfully overall in 17th place ( 6th in class ).  A great result.

It was great to see a high performing team working towards a “collective self interest” in order to achieve a long term goal.  Speaking afterwards with Adam there was a recognition within the team of both what went well in preparation and the lessons learnt for future races.  I’m sure next year even more successful.