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If You Can Only Go to One: ERE Fall Expo

Derrick Barton, chief talent officer for the Center for Talent Retention, is among the dozens of great presenters at next week’s ERE Fall Expo in Hollywood, Fla, which is our featured event this month. SmartBrief on Workforce Senior Editor Mary Ellen Slayter recently spoke with Derrick about what it takes to keep a multigenerational workforce fully engaged. An edited transcript of that conversation follows.

MARY ELLEN: What steps can managers take to keep workers engaged when they can’t give raises or promotions?

DERRICK: The foundation of engagement is one-to-one dialogue, those regular conversations that help you make sure you really have a handle on what’s critical for this person. That’s the best way to know if the projects they are working on fit their skills and interests, and if they have the right resources to get the job done.

Such conversations are free, but they do take an investment of time by the manager. And this works across the board: Boomers want it, Gen X wants it, Millennials want it.

What do you think is the biggest mistake managers make in trying to engage their workers?

On of the biggest relates to prioritization — thinking ‘I’m going to do this when I have time.’ Engaging people is really a make-time issue. If you manage talent, you need to be making time to manage talent.

Another common issue is treating all of your workers the same. There are similarities and differences between people, and those differences make a difference.

A third mistake is thinking that organization initiatives will solve the top needs affecting why a person engages and stays. Most needs can be significantly addressed when a manager and their talented employee work together to make an impact.

What do you think is the sharpest difference between the Millennials and previous generations?

If a Millennial is in a bad work decision, the speed at which they will make a decision and inform their network is astounding.

If a Boomer is unhappy, she’ll maintain their current level of engagement, and perhaps talk with one or two close friends. A Gen Xer will pull back his engagement, and tell maybe 10 to 15 people. Millennials? They leave with speed, and if you get a disgusted Millennial, they’ll inform thousands via their social networks.

What advice do you give to a manager who’s trying to maximize the effectiveness of a multigenerational team?

The manager has to think about two things: How do I maximize my team’s performance, and how do I maximize the performance of each talented person. For the team to work, you have to make sure the group has a clear goal, clarified roles and established practices for sharing information, making decisions, monitoring their group’s performance, and informing other stakeholders. For individuals to perform at their best (engagement) and want to stay (retention) you must be actively working on creating a work situation that is a good “fit” for their most critical needs. You engage and retain talent one person at a time.

Image credit, Yuri_Arcurs, via iStock