Approach change with open mind and willing attitude

Jan 31, 2014 | Investor's Business Daily

By Sonja Carberry,

Change is opportunity to professionals. How to seize possibilities in the workplace:

Observe the curve. Millennials — those born after 1980 — will edge out older workers for majority representation by 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

By 2030, those tech babies will make up 75% of the working world.

"Some of these kids are directors now, soon to become vice presidents," said Velocity Technology Solutions CEO Tom Bruno. "We need to figure out how to mentor them well."

Baby boomers have much to offer, and much to gain, by reaching out collaboratively. "They should only be intimidated if they yearn for the days of the Walkman again," Bruno told IBD. "Our efforts here are to bridge the gap."

Learning from each other sharpens everyone's professional skills.

Mind their styles. As CEO of a cloud tech firm — Velocity hosts apps for enterprise and business software — Bruno has observed the contrasting approaches of baby boomer and millennial employees.

Take how decisions are made.

The younger types? "They'll blast a problem out in a public forum," Bruno said. "It's fascinating to watch them gain consensus and gain access to information we never thought to tap."
Seasoned executives tend to start with established expert sources.

Their leg up? "The veracity of that information," Bruno said.

Bend with it. The successful professional — regardless of age — has a lock on a universal skill.
"They adapt to change much more rapidly," Bruno said.

Emphasize aptitude. One trend potentially slowing the millennial takeover? "Boomers are working longer than our parents did," said Joyce Maroney, director of the Workforce Institute, which researches labor and talent issues for management firm Kronos.

To anticipate their eventual exit, many organizations are "deliberately recruiting millennials to build bench strength," she said.

The bottom line for every organization is talent.

"It's the employees in a workforce that make the difference between success or failure," she said. "The people part of the workforce doesn't go away."

Use their tools. The old guard might think social media is a recreational and distracting break from work. "I think a lot of companies are still trying to suppress it for that reason," she said.
The more-forward thinkers treat Twitter (TWTR) and Facebook (FB) as essential for marketing, talent recruitment and networking.

"These are becoming very powerful engines," Maroney said.

Tap new expertise. Maroney says more organizations are asking: Do I need a data scientist?
This emerging position applies math and algorithms to business dilemmas to pinpoint insights — data that might improve a marketing campaign, anticipate product demand or help detect fraud.

Even if firms don't hire for that job title, more are applying big-data techniques to decision making.

Widen the search. An emerging trend in the nonprofit world, according to Mary Lee Montague, DHR International executive vice president: "The leaders of nonprofits are retiring. There's a huge gap in the need for new talent."

The executive search firm is seeing more organizations widen their pool of candidates to include for-profit professionals.

Her advice for corporate executives interested in do-good careers: Connect with your passion, then bring your A game. "If you are sincerely interested in nonprofit work, it will be the most rewarding experience you've ever had," Montague said.